Wood River High School varsity baseball coach Matt Nelson resigned Thursday morning concluding his eight-year stint at the helm of the Wolverine baseball program.
Nelson, only the second head coach in 22 years of Wood River high school baseball, handed in his resignation to athletic/activities director John Rade, who immediately started to search for a replacement.
The departing coach, a fifth-grade teacher at Hailey Elementary School, said he was leaving to spend more time with his family, which has grown to include four daughters since Nelson took over for Lars Hovey in 2006.
“Change is needed, and change is good,” said Nelson. “There is a good group of kids coming up. Now I can focus on raising my four daughters.”
Hovey, a Wood River High School health and physical education teacher, founded the Wolverine baseball program in 1992 and compiled a 227-168-1 record over that time including six consecutive state tournament visits from 1999-2004. Hovey’s final coaching year of 2005 was Wood River’s first at the more competitive 4A level after many years of 3A success.
Nelson was a freshman on Hovey’s first Wolverine team in 1992 and played four years of baseball for Wood River. His teams had a tougher time competing at the 4A level and never won more than 10 games. Nelson’s eight-year record was 46-150, but the last three seasons were difficult with a 5-66 log.
The highlight of Nelson’s stint occurred in 2008 when his 10-20 squad placed second in the Great Basin West Conference and fourth at the State 4A tournament in Nampa.
Despite many losses over the last three years, Nelson said he felt good that “kids got to play baseball for Wood River. I enjoyed coaching them.”