Weeks of speculation over who would coach the Windermere High baseball team came to an end Tuesday afternoon. Former Apopka High coach Eric Lassiter announced via his Twitter account that he had resigned as coach of the Blue Darters and accepted the position at the relief school set to open this fall.
Lassiter's tweet read: "Excited to announce that I am the 1st Head Coach at Windermere High School! My family and I are excited about this new journey! #WOLVERINES."
Reached by phone this afternoon, Lassiter said that some of the main factors in his decision process centered on that chance to build a program from scratch and being reunited with Windermere High athletic director Fred Priest, who was formerly the AD at Apopka High.
"Being able to start your own program, from scratch, in a baseball rich area like Windermere is something that is hard to say no to," Lassiter said. "I knew if I didn’t do it now, I'm not sure when that opportunity would come again."
Though it is an exciting opportunity for Lassiter, he also graduated from Apopka in 2001 and has coached the team for the past six seasons, meaning the decision was by no means an easy one.
"The first thing that’s hard is obviously (leaving) the players — when you’re as committed to being great as we were, you have a love for the players," Lassiter said. "That was a really difficult conversation we had today in seventh period."
One thing that seemingly will remain the same for Lassiter is that, as was the case at Apopka, his main rival is likely to be West Orange. Though the Wolverines will compete in a different district, the two will likely meet on the field through Metro Conference competition and Windermere players will by and large be kids who otherwise would have gone to West Orange.
"To me, Apopka-West Orange is a big rivalry," Lassiter explained. "So, to me, I’m going from one big rivalry with West Orange to a new big rivalry with West Orange."
Lassiter said that the team will hope to have four to five Under Armour uniforms for its inaugural season and that he also is hopeful to begin making upgrades to the field in addition the stock framework that is provided by the county.
Lassiter and his wife live in Eustis, and though the commute to Horizon West will be long, he says they have no immediate plans to move closer to campus just yet.
Contact Steven Ryzewski at [email protected].