COLORADO SPRINGS — Discovery Canyon's new baseball has all the makings of a real seam head. The Thunder has hired Justin Ross, a former University of Tennessee player and Arizona State assistant coach to take over the baseball program.
Discovery Canyon athletic director Ron Sukle confirmed the hire to CHSAANow.com Monday night.
Ross met with the players and parents on Monday to introduce himself and lay the groundwork for the future of the program.
He has prior experience coaching in the Colorado Springs area as he held the same job at The Classical Academy from 2012-14. Ross went 43-17 in his three years with the Titans.
But before that, he had built himself quite the baseball résumé. He grew up in Pittsburgh and played his college baseball at the University of Tennessee. He was drafted by the (then) Anaheim Angels after his junior season and opted to sign with the club.
In his third year of minor league ball, he tore his rotator cuff and decided that his playing days were over. He went back to school at Arizona State where he also worked as an assistant coach, mentoring the likes of future major leaguers such as Dustin Pedroia and Ian Kinsler.
After stepping down as the coach of the Titans, Ross and his family moved to Texas for a year, but soon returned to the Rocky Mountain region.
"Colorado is where our life is," Ross said. "It's where our community is, our friends, our business is here. The move to Texas was meant to be short term."
And now he has another chance to get back in the coaching game. He takes over Mike Barbato, who led the Thunder to a 9-10 season in a very tough Pikes Peak Athletic Conference.
Ross lives near the campus at Discovery Canyon and has paid attention to the close sense of community that he feels the school maintains. That's why the baseball job was so appealing to him.
"I've got three young boys and at some point they'll come through this program," he said. "The opportunity to get involved and go deep in the community of the school district that my kids will go through is certainly an appeal."