Natchez coach takes job in Iowa

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 13, 1999

Joseph &uot;Kit&uot; Laird of Natchez had brought the LSU-Shreveport baseball program up to places it had never been before.

But the lack of support at the school and the yearning to coach in the NCAA, has Laird leaving LSU-S after accepting an assistant baseball coaching job at Upper Iowa University in Fayette, Iowa.

Laird, who played baseball under Buddy Wade at South Natchez for three years up to 1980, coached at LSU-Shreveport the last two years, collecting the most wins of any prior coach at the school.

Email newsletter signup

In Laird’s first year, the NAIA team won 26 games, seven games over the most wins ever at the school.

LSU-Shreveport went 31-32 last year, adding more broken team records to total 45 in all. Laird’s 1998 team was the first in school history to be ranked.

&uot;There was a lot of stuff I didn’t like going on there,&uot; Laird said for one of his reasons for departing. &uot;I felt the administration was not backing baseball. It was an up-and-coming program and it wasn’t getting supported by anyone. A lot of people around there still didn’t know we played baseball.&uot;

Upper Iowa baseball coach Mark Danker said he is looking forward to working with Laird.

&uot;Kit brings a great deal of coaching experience to the program,&uot; said Danker, who will be in his first year as Peacock coach. &uot;His passion for the game will help us continue our tradition of success in Peacock baseball.&uot;

Laird said he heard about the Upper Iowa job from a coaching friend in California.

&uot;He’s a coach who I got some players from and he called me up and told me that Coach Danker ws looking for an assistant coach. I called him up and one thing led to another. I went up last week for an interview. I talked it over with my wife (Lisa) and before we left I signed a contract.&uot;

Laird said his main duties will be working with the hitters.

&uot;This is Coach Danker’s first year as a head coach, he’s been an assistant for 10 years,&uot;&160;Laird said. &uot;He’s brand new in the coaching aspect, so I’ll be helping him in that aspect, too.&uot;

Prior to his LSU-S job, Laird coached the Wichita Jets, a semi-professional baseball team in Wichita, Kan. He was the head coach and general manager for three summers and brought his team to the National Baseball Congress World Series in 1996.

Laird also head assistant coach positions at Newman University (Kan.) and St. Mary of the Plains College (Kan.). Both teams were conference champions and made regional appearances.

&uot;Upper Iowa is Division III, but it’s still NCAA,&uot; Laird said. &uot;Once you get into that, it doesn’t matter what division you are in, you can still get an opportunity later. If I would have stayed in NAIA, I wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity.&uot;