Con­tin­u­ing the legacy

Bed­ford fam­ily tra­di­tion car­ries on at NHS

Newark Post - - FRONT PAGE - By JON BUZBY JonBuzby@hot­mail.com

It’s been more than two decades since Ne­wark High School last won a base­ball state cham­pi­onship, and in re­cent years, there hasn’t been any real in­di­ca­tion that the pro­gram is set to com­pete for its next one.

How­ever, newly ap­pointed head coach Ja­son Bed­ford said with­out hes­i­ta­tion that a state cham­pi­onship is his goal.

“I look for­ward to the chal­lenge of not only get­ting Ne­wark High School back to the [cham­pi­onship] game, but win­ning it,” said a con­fi­dent Bed­ford, who takes over as the team’s lone head coach af­ter serv­ing as a co-head coach along­side Joe DeGre­gory the pre­vi­ous two sea­sons. “It is a spe­cial ac­com­plish­ment for me, as I have wanted this po­si­tion for a long time.”

While the school rec­og­nized the ti­tle of co-head coach, the Delaware Base­ball Coaches As­so­ci­a­tion and Um­pires As­so­ci­a­tion did not.

Bed­ford was the win­ning pitcher back in 1996 when the Yel­low­jack­ets beat St. Mark’s 11-2 to cap­ture the school’s sixth, and most re­cent, base­ball state cham­pi­onship.

The head coach of that 1996 team was Bed­ford’s brother, Curt Bed­ford. Curt and an­other brother, Chuck Bed­ford, played on the 1990 state cham­pi­onship team. The pa­tri­arch of the Bed­ford fam­ily, Ray, was on the 1971 state ti­tle team.

“Not only is Ne­wark High School in my blood, win­ning is as well,” said Ja­son Bed­ford, whose son, Tyler, will en­roll at Ne­wark as a fresh­man in the fall. “I am proud to be a Ne­wark alum and my fam­ily is very proud to be alumni, so this op­por­tu­nity is one that I will cher­ish for­ever. I know one day I will hear kids say that they at­tend Ne­wark High School and be proud, like I was and am. I’m al­ready start­ing to see it now.”

Bed­ford has al­ready in­stilled that “Ne­wark High com­mit­ment” men­tal­ity into this year’s se­nior class by promis­ing them a few years ago that he will al­ways there for them, even af­ter grad­u­a­tion. He also told them that if they all be­lieve in each other, they can build some­thing spe­cial dur­ing their time at Ne­wark High.

“I am go­ing to en­joy watch­ing this se­nior class, as they are a very spe­cial group to me,” Bed­ford ex­plained. “I wouldn’t have wanted to start my head coach­ing ca­reer with any other class of se­niors. These guys are com­mit­ted to learn­ing, com­mit­ted to im­prov­ing and re­ally com­mit­ted to my ideas of how we are go­ing to ap­proach the game of base­ball.

“I told them that they are the guys I am lean­ing on to show the younger kids how we do things at Ne­wark High School,” Bed­ford added. “They are fully com­mit­ted to mak­ing this pro­gram one of the best again. And to­gether we all know that it is go­ing to take all of us work­ing to­gether for that to hap­pen.”

Re­cent win­ter weather has pre­sented its own ob­sta­cles early on as the Yel­low­jack­ets pre­pare to un­dergo a very chal­leng­ing sched­ule.

“The cold weather at the begin­ning of the sea­son is in­evitable, and we could ei­ther use it as an ex­cuse or we can use it to our ad­van­tage and do the best we can to be­come ac­cli­mated with it and prac­tice out­side ever y chance we can,” Bed­ford ex­plained. “We know this is a long sea­son with a very chal­leng­ing sched­ule, but it only re­in­forces the idea that we have to be pre­pared and ready to give ev­ery­thing we have for all 18 games. No mat­ter what, we know we are go­ing to learn ev­ery day, we are go­ing to grow as a team and we are go­ing to have fun ev­ery step of the way.”

The first step will be Ne­wark’s opener at home against St. Mark’s on March 22 at 3:45 p.m.

“I know they will be ready to play, so no mat­ter if it is sunny and 80 de­grees or cloudy and 35, we have to be ready,” Bed­ford said. “We un­der­stand the im­por­tance of this game, and the dif­fer­ence be­tween 1-0 and 0-1, as we have had trou­ble win­ning that first game of the year in the past few years.”

Bed­ford is ex­cited to face the team he beat in his last game as a pitcher in his first game as an of­fi­cial head coach.

“It’s like some­thing out of a storybook,” he said.

Bed­ford’s first game is just the first story in a book that might take a few years to fin­ish writ­ing, but one that Bed­ford hopes will end with the words “State Cham­pi­onship Win­ner” in the ti­tle of the final chap­ter.

Glas­gow High School host­ing re­cruit­ing sem­i­nar

Jack Renkens, a na­tional re­cruit­ing ex­pert and founder of Re­cruit­ing Re­al­i­ties, is speak­ing at Glas­gow High School on Wed­nes­day, March 28, at 7 p.m. Par­ents and stu­den­tath­letes from area high schools are in­vited to at­tend. Ad­mis­sion is free.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Ja­son Bed­ford is the new head base­ball coach at Ne­wark High School.

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