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New FCS AD, baseball coach Beddingfield knows winning is the norm

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BY SAMUEL EVERS
Sports Writer

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Somewhere between the first state baseball title in the spring of 2017 and the first state football title this past November (there was another baseball title sandwiched in between), the Faith Christian School seniors have developed a winning attitude.

And with a winning attitude comes high expectations.

And with high expectations comes some good-hearted pestering.

New athletic director Ronnie Beddingfield, hired in July, also the new baseball coach, a job title officially added in October, can attest.

“These senior boys, they tell me all the time, ‘Coach, we’ve got to get our fourth one. We’ve got to get the fourth,’” said Beddingfield. “To have three state championships — and they want a fourth one really bad — we will do everything we can to see if we can make it happen again.”

Beddingfield, who already has overseen a state title in football as the school’s new athletic director, is a technical newcomer to Faith Christian School, though he isn’t unfamiliar with the area, the school, or the kids.

A Rocky Mount native, Beddingfield attended now-closed N.E.W. Christian Academy in Sharspburg, where he played football, basketball and baseball. For a few years in the early-’90s, he actually worked as a freelancer for the Telegram’s sports section, making, as he conservatively estimated, $25 an article. He got his start in coaching at Rocky Mount Academy as an assistant on the baseball team in 1995, then coached baseball and basketball at RMA for 23 years, until accepting the athletic director job with Faith Christian this past July.

He discussed his first several months on the job, his plans for the baseball program, memories with RMA, the Patriots’ run to the state title in football, and more on Wednesday afternoon.

Rocky Mount Telegram: You have a perspective from both sides of the rivalry. What does RMA-FCS mean to you?

Ronnie Beddingfield: I’ve always seen it as the Carolina-Duke basketball rivalry. That’s exactly what it is. No matter what we play each other in, we want to win. We want to beat them. They want to beat us. It’s a healthy rivalry. We all know each other. I think it’s great that we have this ability to compete against each other every day but somewhat be friends and acquaintances off the court and off the field.

RMT: Any grief from the people over at RMA?

RB: Actually, everybody at RMA has been completely supportive. I’ve got so many friends that I’ve developed over the years. Just to have this opportunity to come here and be the athletic director and baseball coach is a blessing. It came out of nowhere, first and foremost. I didn’t expect it.

RMT: What kind of things do you believe in as a baseball guy?

RB: I’m a small ball kind of guy. I bunt. I run. But the kids are not going to see a whole lot of difference in the baseball program in itself. It’s not broke. I’m not trying to change the way we do things. They’re accustomed to winning. They’re a great program. I’m just going to come in and fine tune a few things my way. But there’s no reason to change anything (former coach Greg Clifton) has already built. I’m keeping the same assistant coaches. I’m keeping that uniformity there. Next to me coming in and being the guy on that third base coaches’ box, there’s probably not going to be a whole lot different.

RMT: As someone who had a close view of what FCS baseball has done recently, was there admiration from your end?

RB: No doubt. These guys over here worked their butts off — I should say my guys, because they’re my guys now. They’ve worked their butts off. Clifton and the program they’ve built — its easy to admire. I would come watch them play just to watch them play. I wasn’t coaching baseball at RMA the last three years. I was just the parent. I was watching my son Bailey play and watching his team play. But all kids that played for me in travel ball, all kids that played for me in school ball, to see what Coach Clifton built here — the facilities, the field, the program. You have to admire it.

Before becoming the athletic director at FCS, Beddingfield had been a full-time insurance agent for the last 12 years.

RMT: Anything that has surprised you over your first handful of months on the job?

RB: I tell people every day. My saying is — and they get tired of hearing me say it — I’m living my dream every day. I am living my dream every day. The things that were a little surprising, coming from the insurance world to this, were the booster club, the concessions stands, the volunteers, that kind of stuff. The scheduling stuff you expect. It’s a lot, but to work 70 hours a week-plus, I enjoy every bit of it.

RMT: Was it fun following FCS football this year?

RB: Coach Weinstein and his staff are amazing. I tell people all the time — people like to congratulate me on the championship — I didn’t have anything to do with it. I was just able to come in and sit back and watch the kids play, watch them get better and better every week. To accomplish what we accomplished in the championship game — in 8-man football to win 24-20 is almost unheard of anyway, because it’s so high-scoring. But to see the perseverance in the championship game, it’s awesome to be a part of that. Coach Weinstein is fantastic. I hope he’ll agree to coach for the next 20 years so I don’t ever have to think about having a different football coach.

RMT: In all those years coaching over at RMA, does any one memory stick out?

RB: Probably one of the best memories was winning the Tarboro Easter Classic in ‘04. We were a little bitty private school competing against all the big schools. We beat a 4-A Ohio school to win the tournament. The stadium was packed over there. To compete with those guys was cool. That’s the reason I love baseball and love coaching it. You get a good group, get some pitchers and you can compete with anyone on any given day.

RMT: Sounds like you’re ready to compete with your new team tomorrow.

RB: This is a great group of kids. We’ve got everybody coming back except for a few. We’re coming off back-to-back championships. The perception is that we’re supposed to win it again. It takes a lot of luck, things have to break the right way. But we feel like we’ll have a chance at the end. We’re going to be prepared. We feel we can stack up and play with anybody.

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