June 28, 2016


Jeff Rollyson steps down as Highland baseball coach

GRANGER TWP. — The three-year rumor became reality.

Highland baseball coach Jeff Rollyson resigned Monday, ending a successful nine-year run with a 130-107 record, two district championships and a Suburban League title.

Jeff Rollyson

The move was a long time coming for Rollyson, who said he couldn’t stand the thought of missing more time with his children — Nolan (10), Brady (7) and Alaina (5).

“The reasoning is really to — I guess it’s the company line — spend more time with my family,” he said. “Nolan and Brady are both involved in travel baseball and Alaina is active too with gymnastics and dance.
“There’s a lot of events that I don’t want to miss out on.”

The former Akron Ellet standout, whose 43rd birthday is today, and member of the University of Akron and Greater Akron Baseball hall of fames inherited a program with 14 straight non-winning seasons and elected immediately to start a boatload of freshmen and sophomores. The initial results were horrible — Highland was 1-21 in Rollyson’s first season — but the following years were sweeter than even Rollyson anticipated.

In 2007, the Hornets advanced to the Galion Division II Regional championship behind first-team All-American outfielder Ben Klafczynski and pitcher Cory Johnston, who fueled Highland’s Cinderella run back to the regional championship the next season.

The Hornets were the Lorain District runner-up in 2010, and then won the school’s first SL title since 1989 last spring.

The latter team finished with 22 wins, the third-most in school history. It also was the third time in the last six seasons Highland won 20 games, giving Rollyson a .600 winning percentage since the 1-21 start.

“I like where the program is at,” Rollyson said. “The thing I’m most proud of is I taught these kids how to win. Very slowly throughout the years you saw that attitude of like, ‘OK, what’s going to happen?
How are we going to lose?’ to, ‘We’ve got this. We know how to win these games.’ That’s really a testament to my kids for buying into that philosophy.”

Baseball will always be in Rollyson’s blood, as he still gives private lessons for the Ventura Baseball and Softball Academy of Ohio, which is based in Wadsworth.

His days leading a varsity high school team, however, are temporarily over despite leaving the defending SL champion with a lineup’s worth of letterwinners.

“As far as the timing, I really have jostled this decision,” he said. “I’ve been back and forth since we came back to school in September. It’s probably one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make because as a coach, it’s in your blood. It’s hard to step away.

“I will say that not a lot of coaches can say they’ve left on their terms. A lot of coaches end up being asked to resign or fired. That’s the business of coaching.”

Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or agrindle@medina-gazette.com.

Albert Grindle About Albert Grindle

Albert Grindle is a sportswriter for the Gazette. He can be reached at 330-721-4043 or agrindle@medina-gazette.com.