Flashing a smile, Nate Sadler notes that March 22 has been circled on his baseball schedule.
On that night, the new Juanita High baseball head coach will get the chance to face off with his former skipper at Lake Washington High, Derek Bingham, and his Kang crew. Game time is 7 p.m. at Lee Johnson Field.
“Gonna be a fun one,” said Sadler, a 2007 LW grad who has three former Kangs on his Juanita coaching staff who played under Bingham as well.
Sadler served as the head assistant coach at Juanita under Brian Shannon the last two years. Shannon is now the head coach at his alma mater Capital High in Olympia.
“It’s awesome, it’s been a dream of mine to be a head high school baseball coach, especially in the Kirkland area since this is where I grew up,” Sadler said. “Ever since I graduated from there, it’s been something that I wanted to do.”
Sadler, whose first coaching experience was with the LW junior varsity team, played baseball at Central Washington University and Edmonds Community College after his time with the Kangs.
He gained a wealth of baseball and life insight from Bingham.
“The biggest thing was just his impact on his players. You could really tell that he cared about his guys, and I felt that really hit home for me and was something that I wanted to do,” Sadler said.
Creating his own culture and propelling the program forward are two of Sadler’s goals as the Juanita skipper. The Rebels will be organized, prepared and competitive, he added.
One of Sadler’s favorite parts of playing baseball was the camaraderie that emerged amongst the athletes.
“Playing for each other, being a family, so that’s No. 1. Just the friendships that you build and they can become life-long friendships,” Sadler said of what he aims to instill in his players. He added to that list: “Then No. 2, just the competition of it, that’s why we’re all still out here. (Also) to hopefully mold these guys into successful human beings and community members.”
Jessica Carey chuckles when she recalls first playing softball in the T-ball realm as a child. She then moved on to Little League and select fastpitch at age 14. She’s now in the head coach’s spot at Lake Washington High.
“I just love being around it. It’s just such a fun atmosphere to come out and be in,” said Carey, who takes over the reins from Traci Tawney. “Now that I don’t get to play anymore, I like to think of the coaching aspect as kind of a game,” she added about making pitching moves, defensive switches and setting lineups.
It’s Carey’s first year coaching high school ball, but for three years she coached 18 gold select at Rijo Athletics in Woodinville and for two years she was an assistant at Western New Mexico University.
At Everett High, her 2007 senior team took seventh at state and she was an all-state selection as a center fielder.
“I’m really excited and the girls seem like they have a lot of fun,” Carey said of her LW team, which she wants to teach to be students of the game, be competitive, learn from each moment, enjoy their experience and take ownership of their team.
“Just grow good people, get good girls and give them life lessons and build their character as women off the field, not just softball players,” she added.
Carey mentioned LW’s success under Tawney and wants to step in and continue what the top-notch program has achieved. LW won the 2A state title in 2014 and took third at 3A state in 2017.
Janine McNally swings onto the LW girls badminton scene this season as the Kangs’ new head coach.
Taking over for Ashton Staudacher, this is McNally’s first time coaching badminton, although she did teach the sport extensively during physical education classes at Olympic High in Bremerton.
“I’m a very competitive person, so when my students started playing really competitively, it really just got me in the spirit. I just realized, ‘Hey, this is a lot of fun.’ I was a soccer player all my life, this is not as hard on the body,” she said with a laugh.
In her first year at LW, McNally took the health and PE teaching jobs and the coaching post in the area after her significant other began duty at Naval Station Everett.
At the Reporter’s press time, LW sported a gym full of 38 players — with more students asking to join — and McNally said the team is looking good.
McNally said that during her eight years of teaching, she’s stressed that kids are students first and the rest will follow.
“I wanna make sure you’re having fun. We’re competitive and we’re just having a good time and appreciating each other on a positive note,” she said.