ONTARIO — A former Eastern Oregon University assistant baseball coach is taking a step up in his career.
John Farrington, assistant coach for the Mountaineers last season, is entering his first year as head coach of the Treasure Valley Community College baseball team. After guiding Eastern in its first year back on the diamond since 2006, Farrington is taking a major step up into his first collegiate coaching gig.
“When you grow up with a love of baseball, you never want to get away from the game when you’re done playing,” Farrington said. “It was definitely always the plan for me, so I’m excited to be here.”
New coach at the helm
Farrington felt like his hiring at Treasure Valley was a natural next step, following a unique season with the Mountaineers.
The 29-year-old helped resurrect the program and was part of Eastern’s return to baseball. Following a successful playing career at Biola University, Farrington held numerous coaching positions before finding his way to La Grande. In addition to the challenges of starting up a new program, he noted that last season involved unprecedented hurdles.
“I think that the hardest part was resurrecting a program during COVID,” Farrington said. “It’s two things that no one is really used to dealing with.”
Prior to his time at Eastern, Farrington held a variety of coaching positions. His passion for managing baseball has taken him across the world, with the initial spark occurring when Farrington was down under.
“I went to Australia to play, but got roped into coaching a 18-U team,” Farrington said. “My plan was to come back and play some independent ball, but I kind of fell in love with coaching out there.”
Farrington coached the Rockingham Rams in Australia in 2015-16. He returned to Oregon for an assistant stint with Doc Stewarts Baseball in Douglas County, then was an assistant at MidAmerica Nazarene in Olathe, Kansas. He also served as head coach for the Yorkton Cardinals, a collegiate summer-league team in the Western Canadian Baseball League.
Farrington noted that his time with the Mountaineers in 2021 was very productive, teaching him what it takes to build a program from scratch. Taking over for the Chukars, he is hoping to mirror similar tactics to rebuild the program in Ontario.
“It takes a couple years to resurrect a program and get the culture back to where you want it, but we plan on getting this thing back within a few years to where it once was,” Farrington said.
Building from the ground up
Despite being a powerhouse program in years past, the Chukars have struggled in recent seasons. Over the last four years, Treasure Valley has posted a 29-97 record.
While the Chukars have struggled lately, the program has a history of churning out top talent. More than 30 former Treasure Valley players have gone on to sign with Major League Baseball affiliates, while six former Chukars have made it to the show.
Farrington is entering the program with high expectations for turning it around and returning to its glory days.
“Historically, it’s one of the best JUCO’s in the Northwest,” he said. “That’s our plan, to make Treasure Valley that spot that high school kids want to come play for.”
Learning the ropes
While Farrington is more than excited to be leading a team from the head coach’s position, there have been several challenges with taking the major step up from assistant coaching.
“It’s a lot different because you’re dealing with administrative stuff and there’s a lot of other things that you don’t always think about as an assistant,” he said. “I wouldn’t trade it for the world though, you get to build your culture and you can get things done the way you see best.”
Farrington considers his strength as a coach to be his ability to connect with players. At Treasure Valley, he is hoping to develop student-athletes to have success on and off the field.
“I ask my guys to give me 100% in order to be the best ball players they can be,” Farrington said. “It’s about being a good student and a good person on and off the field. We think everything will fall into place as a program if we focus on developing the person and the player.”
Farrington is leaning on the lessons of his former coaches during his playing career, as well as local managers in the area. He stated that former Treasure Valley coaches Rick Baumann and Aaron Sutton have helped him make the step up to the head coaching position.
“I’ve had some great coaches over the years, so it’s time for me to give back and help the players under me,” Farrington said.
Heading into his debut season, Farrington is taking things day by day. He emphasized that during COVID-19, no game is a guarantee. The first-year coach stated that turning things around starts one game at a time.
“Our goal is to make the NWAC tournament,” Farrington said. “We’re working toward that every day and taking things one step at a time. We’re just going to go out there every game and play our butts off.”