One of the characteristics of a successful sports program is other programs wishing they had your players.
This explains why many Weatherford College baseball players move to higher levels after their days as a Coyote are finished. It’s a byproduct of the program coach Jeff Lightfoot started in 2003 and has been a postseason regular since 2004.
“When we recruit a player, I let him know that we intend to prepare him for the next level,” Lightfoot said. “We are very intentional about how we run our program. The discipline, accountability and development that are a part of our daily routine prepares those guys for success on the field and off. That’s very attractive to recruiters.
“When a four-year school signs a JUCO guy, it’s with the intent that they come in and make an impact. I would certainly expect these guys to do so. Elite programs want players from elite programs. If you want to win, you have to recruit winners.”
This is what Lightfoot has consistently done with the Coyotes. Now, 10 players from the 2021 squad — which finished 37-20 overall, 22-10 in conference (second) and reached the playoffs — are moving on to a higher level.
Topping the list is Brenden Dixon, who was originally going to play for the University of Arkansas in 2022 before being selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 20th round of the recent Major League Baseball draft.
The Coyotes have had 34 players drafted over their history, including Cy Young Award winner and World Series champion (Chicago Cubs, 2016) Jake Arrieta.
“WC helped me grow into a man, having control of my success and failures,” Dixon said. “A key part that WC did to help me prepare for my time in professional baseball is to teach me to play with emotion, but don’t be too emotional. Too many times in this game we ride the emotional roller coaster. WC helped me to stay calm in moments and never get too high or too low.
“I will always be forever grateful for my team at Weatherford College, and I am honored to represent the Coyotes in professional baseball.”
Others who have moved on to four-year schools from the Coyotes this year are:
- Right-handed pitcher Hayden Alexander, Southeastern Oklahoma University
- Third baseman/outfielder Brett Brown, Oklahoma State University
- Left-handed pitcher Sam Collins, the University of Texas at Arlington
- Outfielder Jacob Guerrero, Sam Houston State University
- Right-handed pitcher Matthew Hickey, Tarleton State University
- Right-handed pitcher Jase Lopez, Texas Tech University
- Outfielder Hunter Rosson, University of Oklahoma
- Catcher/first baseman Luke Stine, West Texas A&M University
- Catcher Bo Willis, Northwestern State University (Louisiana).
Lightfoot believes Dixon could soon have some company in the pro ranks from some of his fellow Coyotes on the above list.
“There are two or three guys in that group that should have an opportunity to play some pro ball in a year or two,” he said.
Lightfoot said it is expected that this many or more will have the chance to move on to a higher level each season. Most of all, though, he wants to see them advance to extraordinary lives, whether in baseball or otherwise.
“I get a lot of joy watching those guys move on and play, get degrees, jobs and eventually start a family,” he said. “The relationships that we build here at WC last a lifetime.”