Grand Junction High School hires baseball coach
Ever since he left the game of baseball, Donnie Alexander craved getting back in it.
Alexander, 40, is the new head coach of the Grand Junction High School varsity baseball program, athletic director Ned Pollert announced Monday.
“Since 2008, I’ve been out of coaching and wanted to get back on the other side of the fence, so to speak,” Alexander said. “I’ve been praying about it a lot, and I talked to a lot of people. I was blessed enough to get an interview and was hired.”
The 1990 Littleton High School graduate pitched four years at the University of Northern Colorado, where he set the school record for wins in a season (12), strikeouts in a game (14) and strikeouts in a career (291).
After his college career, Alexander signed a free-agent contract with the Ogden Raptors of the Pioneer League. The Raptors were an independent team then, unaffiliated with any of the Major League Baseball teams.
Alexander went into coaching. He was a pitching coach and recruiting coordinator at Lamar Community College for five years under current head coach Scott Crampton.
There, Alexander coached 25 players that went on to play NCAA Division I baseball, and 14 were drafted by a Major League team. The Runnin’ Lopes won six straight Empire Conference championships, had three seasons with 50 or more wins and had a team ERA of 3.50.
He left Lamar for the same position at Central Arizona College in 2008. That season, the Vaqueros advanced to the National Junior College Athletic Association World Series in Grand Junction and took third.
Having met his future fiancé, Barbara Traylor Smith, while in Grand Junction for the JUCO World Series, Alexander wanted to move closer to home. He took a job with a financial company in Grand Junction and worked there through 2010 with Traylor Smith.
The following year, he took a job with the city of Grand Junction Parks Department as a seasonal equipment operator.
This spring he was an assistant coach for the Palisade High School freshman team with Doug Peden.
“I knew Doug through the Mavericks travel team,” Alexander said. “Doug was a client in my fiance’s business. It was fun. Hopefully the kids learned a lot.”
Alexander realizes he’s taking a coaching position with a wealth of history and high regard. He’ll be the fourth head coach since 1954, following in the footsteps of legendary coach Bill Fanning, Dick Mantlo and Kyle Rush, who led the Tigers to eight Southwestern League titles and a playoff berth in each of his 12 seasons.
Fanning led the Tigers to 21 state tournament appearances and three state titles in his 35 years. Grand Junction won 43 consecutive games during the 1961-62 state-title seasons. He received the National High School Baseball Coach of the Year honor in 1984 and was inducted into the Colorado High School Coaches Hall of Fame in 1986 and the Colorado High School Hall of Fame in 1995
Rush, 37, resigned a month ago, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family. He and his wife, Mandy, have a young boy.
“Being the new guy, I’m not here to reinvent the wheel,” Alexander said. “All I want to do is keep the train moving forward and get them on the same page as me.”
Alexander will continue to work as a seasonal equipment operator, taking care of the Canyon View Park baseball field. He is not a teacher.