The position opened when former coach Jon Foss resigned in mid-May at the conclusion of the Raiders’ spring season. Foss had overseen the Reed program since 2004.
Royal had been an assistant at Wooster since 2004. He takes over a Reed varsity program that finished 19-17 overall, but still reached the Northern Region semifinals after collecting a pair of playoff wins.
“I think Nick knows the game of baseball. He comes from a good, well-respected program. We felt that during this process he was ready to take on a head position Reed Athletic Director Jamie Felten said. “We were fortunate to interview him and have him accept when we offered it to him.”
The Raiders’ new skipper couldn’t sound much more positive about the challenge that lies ahead.
“This is a great opportunity. This program has a lot of great tradition. It’s the next step I wanted to take,” Royal said during an interview at the east Sparks school Wednesday morning. “Hopefully, with some support from the players, parents and community, I think we can continue the tradition Reed’s had.”
Reed baseball has not missed the postseason in more than 25 years, though it has been far from a perennial powerhouse in recent years.
Reed won the High Desert League in 2004 and earned a state tournament invitation that spring, but has not come close to matching that success since. The Raiders have finished no higher than third in league play in any of the last four seasons.
“I’m thrilled and excited to have this opportunity, to continue the tradition here, but also to start a new program,” Royal said.
“I’d like to have a state appearance and continue that playoff streak. The Reed facilities have great potential, but they need improvements. I envision this being one of the best places around.”
Royal is a local product. The 28-year-old graduated from Wooster in 1998 and went on to play college baseball at Feather River and Division II powerhouse New Mexico Highlands.
A press release announcing Royal’s hiring said the young coach “plans to stress discipline, fundamentals and teamwork” as he takes over the RHS program. He reiterated those points Wednesday.
“I believe discipline is one of my strengths as a coach as is knowledge of the game and being able to put the pieces together to create a successful puzzle,” he said. “But discipline will be the key for me to get this rolling the right way.
“Baseball is a sport that helps you in life. You must have the discipline to understand what can make you better. It’s a failure game. Thirty percent in real life is failing, but 30 percent in baseball is a pretty good hitter.”
The Reed baseball program had offered a summer program during Foss’ tenure, but with his resignation in May the local school did not offer summer teams for Raiders players.
While the lack of competition for the local players won’t help the Reed program, it isn’t expected to bring on any doomsday scenarios either.
“We got through the hiring process as quickly as we could, keeping in mind we didn’t want to jump the gun,” Felten said. “Most of the kids at Reed are playing this summer. Maybe they are not playing together, but most are playing somewhere and there’s value in that, too. It would have been nice if we’d pieced it together prior to that but I don’t see it being detrimental.”
Royal coaches the Sierra Sun Devils, a local summer club baseball team for high school age athletes. He plans to have a Reed summer program in place next year, but echoed Felten’s sentiments about the current situation.
“I don’t think it will hurt as much as other people do,” Royal said. “We’ve still got kids playing baseball. We will need those guys to be leaders.”