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‘I enjoy teaching kids’: Westfield baseball coach on 22 years at helm

Ryan Bunnell, baseball coach at Westfield High School. (Provided Photo)

WESTFIELD, Ind. (WISH) — Twenty-two years is a long time to do any job, let alone coaching a high school baseball team.

But, Ryan Bunnell, a baseball lifer, wouldn’t have it any other way. 

“Westfield was a 3A school in my first year coaching at WHS with 1,175 students and has grown into a school of 3,000 in my time here. The first few years were tough. We were a 3A school in a 4A conference so we had to learn how to do the things that championship teams do to compete,” Bunnell said 

According to Bunnell, who also teaches social studies at Westfield, the upcoming season could prove to be one of the more competitive in an already-tough Hoosier Crossroads Conference.

“The HCC is always talented and tough but I think 2024 has the potential to be the most talented top to bottom in my 22 years in it. The reigning champion, Noblesville, is possibly more talented than they were last year, returning Nolan Decker along with some very talented young arms and bats,” Bunnell said. “As always, it will be a battle day in and day out in the HCC, but, if our guys are playing for each other and pulling on the same end of the rope, I think we can compete with anyone,” Bunnell said. 

Bunnell said the team will look to seniors Ty Anderson, Brayden Hibler and Preston Tamm as well as juniors Matt Drozlek, Drew Law and Ethan Colling to provide the Shamrocks with production this season.

“We’ve been fortunate to get outside four times already, so that’s been a great thing for our guys.  Anytime we can get outside in January and February it is a boost to morale as the grind of the winter indoor offseason can get tough at times. Our guys have enjoyed getting outside the last few weeks.”

Bunnell, who also coaches for the Indiana Bulls travel organization during the summer, is just 12 wins away from 300. He says, though, that coaching is more than wins and losses. 

“I enjoy teaching kids to put the needs of others ahead of their own, which translates into being a good husband or father. There is a lot of failure in the game of baseball, which provides great opportunities to teach kids how to persevere through the adversity life is going to throw at them. So, it’s building great young men, great husbands, and great fathers that keep me passionate about coaching.” 

High school coaching can be a grind — long hours, late nights, early mornings — but Bunnell points to his family as his backbone.

“I’m really lucky. My beautiful wife, Michelle, is a principal and understands the time demands involved in having an impact on kids’ lives. My daughter, who was a manager for us when she was in high school, is a fourth-grade teacher in Fort Worth, Texas. My oldest son, A.J., is a senior pitcher at Anderson University. I’m excited for his senior year in college as his senior year of high school baseball (at) Westfield was lost to COVID.  My stepson, Cooper, is a senior at Indiana University with a bright future as a writer.  My youngest son, Beau, is a junior at Westfield playing defensive end for the football team.

“Coaching demands such a great deal of time away from family, so I simply couldn’t do it without the support of my wife and kids.”