When Justin Ross met his returning players last week after earlier being named new coach of the Discovery Canyon baseball team, he wasn’t only thinking of the here and now.
His son, Jaxon, is 9, and the father of four looks forward to still being coach when he rolls through. The same is true for Jaxon’s younger brothers, Brennan (7) and Andrew (5).
“It’s a great opportunity to have your kids around you when you coach,” said Ross, who replaced Mike Barbato, who resigned after the 2017 season after six seasons at the post. “I’d love to coach all of them. I live not far from campus, and this is an opportunity for me to get entrenched in the community in an area I love.”
Ross had success in a program not far from Discovery Canyon, going 43-17 in three seasons at The Classical Academy from 2012-14.
The demands of a growing family in addition to operating a fledgling husband-wife-run consulting business drove Ross from the coaching ranks three years ago.
On top of that, he moved his family to McKinney, Texas, last year to support his father, who had been diagnosed with cancer.
Now he’s back and seems energized by a family that’s not quite so young and a profession that’s more than off the ground now.
“A few years ago, I had four young kids, and it had become unmanageable to be able to pull off coaching on top of everything else,” said Ross, who also has a 12-year-old daughter. “As much as I loved it, I couldn’t make that a priority above providing for my family and my kids, so that’s why I decided to step away. Now, things are in a better place, and the timing of the opening couldn’t have been better.”
Ross engineered seasons of 14-5, 14-6 and 15-6 at TCA, highlighted by a run to the 2014 district final before falling to Florence with a state-tournament berth on the line.
To Ross, success on the field takes care of itself once a larger component is mastered.
“I’m not taking this position to win state championships,” Ross said. “I’m taking it because I love to develop young men, and that’s where we’re going to start, with character, then academics. Then our next priority is learning to compete on the field.”
Ross inherits a Thunder team that barely missed out on a 4A postseason berth during the recently completed 2017 season with a 9-10 overall mark and a 7-7 ledger in the rough-and-tumble Pikes Peak Athletic Conference.
And down the line, he hopes to pencil in the names of his boys on Discovery Canyon lineup cards.
“My 9-year-old is already showing a deep love for sports and is a stud of an athlete,” Ross said. “We’ll see how it goes, but it would be great to coach my kids here at Discovery Canyon.”