Chris Patrick is ready to blaze his own trail when he takes over as Clovis High’s new head baseball coach next week.
His surname, however, leaves some rather large cleats to fill.
If Chris needed a reminder, he would only have to glance at the left-field wall of Lloyd Merriman Field.
Decorated on the blue outfield wall are banners commemorating the nine section titles – and two national championships – won by Clovis High under the direction of James Patrick, Chris’ father. The elder Patrick was at the helm of Cougars baseball for 32 seasons before hanging up his cleats last May.
The Cougars did not have to look far for their next head coach, tabbing James’ son last July to take over the role, as if it was a family heirloom.
The Patrick family has become baseball royalty at Clovis High, yet the success of the elder Patrick has also led to high expectations for the next Patrick.
“If you have success, it’s because of what [James] already established, and if you lose, it’s because you’re not as good of a coach,” Chris said. “If anybody is tough enough to handle that, it’s me.”
Check out my conversation with @CloHighBaseball head coach Chris Patrick. Cougars looking to defend section title this year. Highlights of today’s scrimmage at end of interview. @CougarsClovis @Chris_Patrick9 @ClovisRoundup pic.twitter.com/wH3lhUkvE7
— Gabe Camarillo (@gabecamarillo_) February 1, 2020
The younger Patrick is not wet behind the ears when it comes to coaching. He spent 10 years as the head baseball coach at Clovis North, from the school’s opening in 2008 until his dismissal in 2017. In that span, Patrick captured a section title in 2013, coincidentally defeating James’ Clovis High team during playoffs en route to the championship that year.
“What I was trying to do was build a blue-collar, Clovis High-type of program on the north side of town,” Patrick said. “I’m proud of what we did, but I’m excited for this fresh start and to make new memories here.”
It is a tough act to follow in Dad’s footsteps, but along with a proven winning track record at Clovis North, Chris Patrick has built familiarity with the Cougars baseball program. He served as an assistant coach on his father’s staff for the past two seasons, including last year’s campaign which culminated with a section title.
Patrick notes the group of seniors on his team this year, who return from the 2019 Valley championship squad, as being pivotal to success for Clovis High in 2020. Chief among that group is UNLV commit and pitcher/first baseman Noah Beal.
“There’s a chance he could be an MLB draft pick in late June if he puts together a good season,” Patrick said. “He’s a big physical kid who will likely hit second in our order.”
Patrick also named another senior who can have a breakout year at a new position: catcher Koby Kropf.
“[Kropf] is a three-year guy. It’s his first year catching, though; he’d been our left fielder because of our stud catcher [Darien Miller] who got drafted last year,” Patrick said. “Koby was waiting in the wings and he’s ready to take over.”
Two more seniors to keep an eye on, according to Patrick: Ian Mortenson, who will start at center field and fill the role of No. 2 pitcher after Beal, and Miles Henderson, who be utilized as a utility player and a closer out of the bullpen.
Overall, the senior class provides an opportunity for Patrick to win immediately in his first year as the Cougars’ head coach. It was part of the reason why he took the job in July.
“The biggest reason why I put in for the job was because I wanted to keep this nucleus of coaches and players together,” he said. “These guys have been working and playing together for a long time and we want to keep doing it the way my dad taught us. We want to make him proud.”
Chris Patrick wants to blaze his own trail, of course, but he is very aware of the legacy his father left behind at Clovis High.
In fact, Patrick is embracing it, and in doing so, embracing the family name and the winning tradition that comes with it.