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As a senior at York High School in 1977 , Rusty Ingram helped the Falcons win their first baseball district championship. In 1989, Ingram coached the Falcons to the program’s only baseball state championship.
Last Wednesday, after York’s baseball team lost 4-3 to Colonial Heights in the Conference 25 semifinals, Ingram announced he was stepping down as the head coach of York’s baseball team after 34 total years as a prep sports coach.
“It’s been 34 years and I figured it’s a good time to step aside and spend a little more time with my family,” he said. “Me and my wife talked about [stepping down]. It’s a good time. The program is in good shape. There’s a lot of good players in there right now. They’re financially stable. There’s good direction inside the program.”
Ingram, who will remain a physical education teacher at York High, has been part of the York County community ever since he was a student at York High starting in 1974.
While attending York High in the late 70s, Ingram was a three-sport athlete, playing football, basketball and baseball for the Falcons.
In 1984, Ingram began the first of two stints at York High School as a coach – the first from 1984 to 1990 and the second coming from 2008 to 2015. In total, Ingram spent 15 of his 34 years as a coach with York.
“He’s been a fixture here for so many years even though he had that 17-year break,” York Athletic Director John Ashley said. “York High School means a lot to him. After he was a student here, he got one of his first head jobs here. He’s taken the teams to several regional titles and three state championships in a row. He’s an icon here.”
As a baseball coach at York, Ingram helped lead the Falcons to a state championship in 1989 after losing in the previous two state championships in 1987 and 1988.
Ingram’s state championship winning team featured two notable York baseball players — Rob Berryman, who played minor league baseball for two seasons in the Boston Red Sox farm system, and Riegal Hunt, who played two seasons in the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system.
During his second coaching spell at York High, Ingram also coached Will Lamb, who is currently a relief pitcher for the Frisco RoughRiders, the AA affiliate of the Texas Rangers.
“He was one of the greater coaches I’ve had in my career,” Lamb said of Ingram, citing his ability to relieve the tension during a game by reciting a joke or two during mound visits.
“He taught me life lessons that I can’t thank him enough for. He turned programs around and made them compete and win at Denbigh and York. He’s one of the greatest coaches to come out of the area. He’s going to be truly missed. He just found everybody’s drive and focus and passion. That’s what made him so great.”
Despite coaching multiple professional baseball players during his time at York, Ingram remained humble when asked about his effect on those players.
“It’s really not my tutelage that took them to professional baseball,” he said. “There’s a lot of God-given ability to make it to that level. Putting people in college and giving them opportunities to be successful, that’s a big thing we tried to accomplish.”
For Ashley, watching Ingram step away from coaching means more than just having to hire a new coach. Ingram was somewhat of a mentor for Ashley, who played baseball and football as a student at York.
While a student at York, Ashley was coached personally by Ingram in both football and baseball. Little did Ashley know, one day he would be working with Ingram in the York athletic department.
When Ashley was hired as York’s athletic director, teachers and coaches joked Ashley reversed the roles and became Ingram’s boss.
“I really didn’t think of it like that, but in some ways I am,” Ashley laughed. “Not only has he had an impact on my life, he’s had an impact on several hundreds of kids that went through York High School.”
Ingram said he wants his legacy at York to reflect his commitment to consistency and creating opportunities for the young people that have played for him.
Ashley echoed Ingram’s sentiments and summed up his tenure as York’s head baseball coach with one simple statement:
“He’s done a hell of a job here.”