Three days after the Jeffersonville High School baseball team won the Hoosier Hills Conference Tournament championship, its head coach Matthew Rigsby has shockingly resigned.
Rigsby stepped down as the Red Devils’ manager on Monday morning. Along with resigning as the baseball coach, he quit his job as attendance liaison at Jeff High.
The Red Devils had a 10-6 record at the time of Rigsby’s resignation. One of those 10 victories was last Friday’s 12-3 victory over Seymour in the HHC Tournament final at Don Poole Field.
Greater Clark County Schools’ chief operating officer Marty Bell said the reason for Rigsby’s sudden resignation was the Red Devils’ coach was battling health issues.
“He stepped down for health reasons. He has missed a lot of work because of them,” Bell said in a phone interview on Monday.
Rigsby’s health affected one of his responsibilities as head coach, which was driving his players in one of the school mini-busses to road games.
During a recent road trip, Rigsby was behind the wheel of a mini-bus when he was not supposed to drive. According to Bell, Rigsby was prohibited from driving the mini-bus because he did not get proper clearance from his doctor to return to operate an authorized GCCS vehicle.
“He didn’t have a proper doctor’s notice to drive the mini-bus,” Bell stated. “Somebody had to go to the game to pick the team up (after the contest).”
Bell said Jeff High’s administration plans on hiring a coach either from the current coaching staff or within the school in the next couple of days. Red Devil athletic director Lisa Stemler will be conducting the coaching search.
“I will be naming an interim coach very shortly,” Stemler said in an email on Monday evening.
Stemler informed the Jeff players of Rigsby’s resignation during a meeting on Monday.
“The team handled the news exceptionally well and wants to move forward,” Stemler said. “Our baseball team is playing very well right now. I want this to be a smooth transition for them without causing too much disruption. The team is just coming off of winning the HHC tournament and excited about finishing the season strong.”
Josh Burke, a sophomore on the Jeff baseball team, said the news of Rigsby’s departure was tough to take.
“It hit home a little bit hard,” Burke said in a phone conversation. “But we’ve got to keep playing like we have been. There is nothing we can do about it, so all we can do is move on.”
The timing of Rigsby’s resignation is not good, as the first round of the Class 4A Jeffersonville Sectional will be in nine days. Kevin Burke, the father of Josh Burke and a former baseball player at Providence and Bellarmine University, expressed his concern about that during a phone interview on Monday.
“I feel for our kids more than anybody. They don’t deserve not having a coach a week and a half before sectional,” Kevin Burke said. “It’s really unfortunate for our seniors.”
The elder Burke, a former Jeff assistant coach, says the Red Devils need to get mentally tougher in the upcoming weeks.
“They’ve just got to try to stay mentally focused,” he said. “We’ve got to be supportive of our kids.”
Rigsby was in his first year as the Red Devils’ head coach. He joined the Jeff coaching staff last year as the associate head coach under former Red Devils’ manager Al Rabe. However, Rigsby ran the team for the first five games of 2011, while Rabe served a suspension from GCCS for using a term the school corporation considered racially charged.
Prior to his arrival at Jeff, Rigsby was an assistant coach at three Kentucky high schools — Powell County, Lawrence County and Louisville DeSales. A message to Rigsby’s cell phone was not returned on Monday evening.