Claremore Daily Progress

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June 19, 2014

Payne receives National Baseball Coach of the Year

CLAREMORE — Once known for his bull-riding skills, Claremore’s Brent Payne has a knack for coaching baseball.

On Wednesday night, Payne’s illustrious coaching career got recognized at the National High School Athletics Coaches Association annual convention in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

One of eight finalists, Payne received the 2014 National Baseball Coach of the Year after leading the Claremore Zebras to their third-straight Class 5A state tournament appearance.

“Year in and year out, I’ve been blessed to coach good players,” Payne said in a previous Claremore Progress article.

Payne, who just completed his 27th season of coaching high school baseball,  was selected from a talented pool of finalists — Leo Veleas (Berlin HS, Conn.), William R. Huisman (Centerville Community School, Iowa), Pete Meyer (Lisle HS, Illinois), Jeff Gumm (Taylor County HS, Kentucky), Tim McDonald (Bay City Western HS, Michigan), Ryan Michael Brantl (Thompson Public HS, North Dakota) and Marc Hilton (St. Pius X HS, New Mexico).

Two years ago, Payne achieved another huge milestone in his baseball career. He earned his 600th career win during Claremore’s 10-0 win over Coweta on April 26, 2013.

“That first win was just as important as the 600th,” Payne acknowledged to the Claremore Progress.

On the field, Payne is tough on his players, but with a caring heart.

“He (Payne) wants us to be at our best, whether it’s in practice or a game,” said former Claremore All-State catcher Matt Whatley in a previous interview.

“He’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever played for, and a man that I truly respect on and off the field.”

During the end-of-the-year baseball banquet, Payne got emotional when talking about his four-year starting catcher (Whatley).

“Matt’s the best catcher that I’ve coached in my career,” according to Payne. “He’s fundamentally sound and helped take the Zebra baseball program to a higher level.”

Another former Zebra All-State pitcher/outfield Jacob Teague shared high praise for Payne.

“There’s no other coach that I would want to play for than Coach Payne,” Teague said in an previous interview. “He’s the best in the state.”


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