Starkville High School introduced Luke Adkins as the school's new baseball coach Friday. He is shown here with wife Avery and son Stetson. Photo by: Scott Walters/Dispatch Staff
June 2, 2018 7:52:20 PM
STARKVILLE -- Luke Adkins fell in love with Starkville when he played baseball at Mississippi State University.
While Adkins built so many memories on the diamond, he also met his future wife Avery, who was a diamond girl with the MSU program.
His love of family and love of the Starkville community were some of the reasons why Adkins was thrilled to be named as the new head baseball coach at Starkville High School.
The hiring was approved Friday by the Starkville-Oktibbeha County Consolidated School District Board of Trustees.
Adkins comes to Starkville after two seasons at Houston High School, where he was an assistant coach in both football and baseball.
"Starkville has always felt like home to me," Adkins said. "It is where I met my wife. The Mississippi State program has always been near and dear to my heart. To be able to call this place home is a wonderful opportunity for me."
Adkins replaces Travis Garner, who resigned in May to take the job at Caledonia High School. Garner coached the Yellow Jackets for five seasons, with four Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 6A playoff berths.
In those playoff trips, the Yellow Jackets never made it past the second round. Inside Region 3, Starkville has been paired with baseball powerhouse programs Northwest Rankin and Madison Central.
"For some, it's the reason not to take the job," Adkins said. "For me personally, it was a big reason to take the job. Ballplayers want a challenge. That is why you sign up to play or to coach. You want to compete against the best. I am aware of the challenges ahead. We are going to come in here and try to build this thing from the ground up, get it back to where it in the (1980's and 1990's)."
Starkville Athletic Director Cheyenne Trussell said he wanted someone "ready to make a long-term commitment" and someone who wanted the Starkville job as "a destination job."
He believes Adkins, who emerged from a final candidate pool of 25, fits that bill.
"He is firmly committed to Starkville," Trussell said. "The search process took about three weeks and we had several qualified applicants from three different states. What stood out about Luke was his desire to come to Starkville, be here for the long run, and to build a program. It was important to get a coach in front of our players, who is ready to invest in them, as both a player and person. Very pleased at how the process went and the coach that was chosen."
Adkins was a multi-sport star at Nettleton High School. His former high school coach, Scott Cantrell, who is now a superintendent with the Monroe County School District, was also in attendance at Friday's press conference.
His playing career started at the University of Southern Mississippi before a transfer to MSU. When you combine both schools, the coaching influences include Corky Palmer and Scott Berry from his time at USM, as well as Ron Polk, John Cohen, Butch Thompson, Nick Mingione and Lane Burroughs from his time at MSU.
"During the interview process, they joked with me that I had like half the SEC as references," Adkins said. "I felt honored to be able to call of those coaches mentors. You take a little bit from each one. That is how you put together how you are going to coach. Everybody has some good ideas. You learn a lot from each."
Adkins said he wants to win games at Starkville. However, he also wants to a show an investment in helping his players off the field, as well.
"You want to be their coach," Adkins said. "That means you do everything you can make to them successful. You pour your heart and soul into the program to be an influence, a difference-maker."
During Friday's briefing, Trussell thanked Starkville assistant coach Ben Tillman for keeping things going during the transition period.
The Yellow Jackets are already deep into a hectic summer ball schedule, with both the junior high and varsity programs playing on a regular basis.
"The biggest thing right now is to evaluate personnel," Adkins said. "The summer will be important because it is a good gauge for what we have to work with."
Starkville finished 15-13 this season, with a first-round playoff series loss to Tupelo.
Follow Dispatch sports writer Scott Walters on Twitter @dispatchscott
Scott was sports editor for The Dispatch.
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