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Coach Edwards - Leading Mules Baseball

May 06, 2015

It takes a village….A Baseball Village.

UPDATE:The Mules defeated #1 ranked Notre Dame for the SEMO Conference Title. Congratulations to Steve Edwards and all of the Mules players and staff.

It is a great thing to like your job.

It is a far better thing to be passionate about your job.

That’s how Steven Edwards feels about his new position as Head Baseball Coach for the Poplar Bluff Mules.

PB Mules with their SEMO Conference Title Champions award after defeating Notre Dame 4-2.

PB Mules with their SEMO Conference Title Champions award after defeating Notre Dame 4-2. Photo by Jerrad Moses.

“This has been a dream come true for me,” smiled Edwards. “I left a head coaching position in Trumann, Arkansas to come home. Now I feel I truly am home where I belong.”

Edwards grew up in Poplar Bluff, and he well remembers the bus rides on baseball game days.

“I remember watching those players out on the field, and I remember telling a friend, ‘That’s what I want to do!’” related Edwards.

“I had the awesome opportunity to meet Coach Bullington and Coach Shell during the past few years, and when Coach Bullington decided to step down, I was blessed to get an interview. When I was chosen for the job, I could hardly believe it.” Edwards had been coached by Bullington during his playing years, and he had played with Shell in school. So this was a true coming home moment.

He remembers that was one of the best day of his life.

“It is a true honor to be in this spot,” said Edwards. He wants to thank all who helped him get here, including the school administration, hiring board, and the school board.

Of course having been assistant baseball coach for Poplar Bluff has prepared him well for this step in his career.

Edwards has been assistant baseball coach for two years, and he also took over Poplar Bluff’s soccer program two years ago.

Is it tough juggling coaching responsibilities for two major sports?

“Yeah…sometimes it gets a bit hectic,” admits Edwards.

But he says he loves coaching both sports.

“I want the best for all my student athletes,” says Edwards.

He says for both coaches, and the athletes, it is a full time job staying in good physical condition, and in keeping skills sharp.

“There really is no off-season,” explained Edwards. “The so-called off-season is crucial to success. For baseball, we start having open workouts in December. There is a lot of weights and cardio. Every sport has its own workout, and then the drills, and our coaching staff basically has to come up with a plan for success. We attack it as a joint unit. We explain what we are doing to the players. The pitchers are on a plan, and the non-pitchers are on a plan. It’s very organized. Fundamentals are the key to success.”

And, of course a lot comes down to talent.

Edwards says this year’s team is different than any other he has seen.

“We have one senior, four juniors, nine sophomores and 12 freshmen. So we are a young team. But we definitely have the talent,” grinned Edwards. “These young men have a solid base of fundaments coming into the season.”

Poplar Bluff Mules congratulate each other after another victory

Poplar Bluff Mules congratulate each other after another victory

Edwards’ strategy is to always make the routine plays.

“Don’t worry about the amazing plays. They will happen. But keep focused on the basics,” he says.

The same holds true for the batter’s box.

“You have to know how to handle any situation with any count as a batter,” he instructed.

With it all, Edwards expects a winning season.

“I think we will be in a position to compete for the Conference Tournament and play at the season’s end district championship,” he said. “That is our goal and our plan for the program.”

Of course Edwards also teaches at Poplar Bluff High School, teaching Sociology, Contemporary Issues, The Psychology of Learning and Psychology.

He enjoys the classroom as well as the playing field.

For every student, he believes in pushing them to be their best, every day, whether on the field or in the classroom.

And, as with all busy educators and coaches, Edwards still has to make time for his family.

“Family has to be first,” he says. “I’m married to Jennifer Edwards, who is also an educator here in Poplar Bluff. She teaches at the Fifth and Sixth Grade Center.

When he met her, he says he met his soul mate.

“I was serving in the military at the time, and I can honestly say she is my best friend. I love being able to share coaching and teaching with her,” said the coach.

The couple has one son, Nicholas, who is 11 years old.

Edwards says he realizes all parents think their kids are great, but he absolutely knows in his heart his kid is the best. Nicholas also loves sports and education. Both Jennifer and Nicholas come to every event of Edwards that they can.

But it is impossible to be everywhere at once, and Edwards admits the hardest part of coaching is sometimes missing out on his own family’s events.

“But we make it work,” he concluded. “It’s the life we have chosen.”

If it takes a village to make it work, Edwards says he has chosen the perfect village.

“A coaching staff has to really bond to do well. They have to form a cohesive unit. And we have done that in Poplar Bluff,” said Edwards. “We all have the same drive. And that drive is to be the best individuals we can be, and the best team we can be. These relationships don’t just happen. They take work. And we are all 100 percent into making it work. Between our families, our school, our administration, our athletic director, our coaching staff and our players, we are in a really great position for success.”