Coaching travel teams the past three summers showed Will Dixon his career path.
The former Colorado Mesa reliever, who pitched the Mavericks into the 2019 NCAA Division II national championship game, has been hired as the new baseball coach at Grand Junction High School.
He replaces Justin Little, who resigned in May after taking a new job at CMU that doesn’t allow him time to coach.
Dixon has been coaching teams with the Rocky Mountain Oysters for three years.
“The 16-U team was my first taste of coaching. It was a pretty big shock,” Dixon said. “Last summer I had a new 16-U team and that told me what I wanted to do. It was such a good group, they worked super hard all summer, wanted to put in the work.
“For me, it was a giant shift in my philosophy. I threw in the national semifinal and six days later I was coaching a 16-U team in Denver. ”
He’s coaching a 14-under team this summer that’s undefeated, so he’s getting plenty of experience working with high school-aged players.
Dixon was a graduate assistant this past spring with the Mavericks as he finished his degree in kinesiology at CMU.
“That first summer coaching was an eye-opener for me,” Dixon said. “Wow, this is a lot different. It’s a lot more fundamentals, but honestly, it helped me as a player. You have to know the game a little better and explain details to kids and it helped me. I’m really looking forward to this opportunity.”
Dixon said the Grand Junction job allows him to stay in the Grand Valley, which has become home (he’s from Highlands Ranch) and give back to the game.
“I didn’t throw my name in the hat right at first,” he said of applying for the job. “I talked to a few people and kind of felt it out. I always wanted to be a coach. Doing what I did last year, I loved coaching with Coach (Chris) Hanks and all the guys on the staff. For me, it was time to start something new and branch off a little bit.”
“Baseball in the Grand Valley needs a little bit of a revamp. I don’t know the last time there was a state champion in Grand Junction (the Tigers won the Class 5A title in 2005) but it’s been awhile and for me, this is an opportunity to build something. Coach Little had a good thing going and I had some of his kids last summer on my team. He did a great job, he really cared, and I think I can improve on what he started and build this thing where it needs to be.
“It starts with winning the Grand Valley. That’s step one, and building a championship program like what we’ve done at Mesa. In my four years, we continued to build what was in place, and that’s what I’m looking to do.”