Zumbro takes over Vicksburg baseball

Published 12:40 pm Friday, June 25, 2010

With nine years of experience as a biology teacher and a coach at Clinton High School, Cody Zumbro was too hard to pass up.

On Thursday at the Vicksburg Warren School District Board of Trustees meeting, Zumbro was hired to be the new baseball coach at Vicksburg High School. He replaces 11-year veteran Jamie Creel, who was promoted to an assistant principal at VHS in the same meeting.

Board president Zelmarine Murphy, praised the hire of Zumbro.

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“You teach biology — that’s what I call a real coach,” Murphy said.

“From all reports he’s been a class act at Clinton. He was a pre-med student, then decided to teach and coach and he’s been exceptional and he has one year as a head coach, going 22-10,” Vicksburg Warren School District athletic director Lum Wright Jr. said. “In all, we had 18 resumés, we scheduled 10 interviews and nine showed up. He was the only one we offered.”

Zumbro said there were several factors for wanting to take the job.

“First, it’s a (Class) 6A program and its regarded as one of the best athletically rich schools in the state. Coach Creel has built a lot of tradition in his 11 years and he has built a program that has a lot of community support,” Zumbro said.

Vicksburg High is one of the few urban programs to have success in baseball. The Gators went 28-10 and advanced to the Class 4A championship series in 2008 under Creel. They produced two of the best players to come out of Ole Miss brothers Justin and Jordan Henry, both now playing in Class AA ball in their major league organizations.

“I think having that type of athlete from an urban setting gives us an advantage. Those kids bring a type of toughness. I like to coach that type of player,” Zumbro said.

That athleticism will fit well in Zumbro’s philosophy.

“I like being athletic. I want to run bases and create chaos. We’re going to bunt, hit-and-run and be aggressive. I want us to be sound on defense and for our pitchers to throw strikes,” Zumbro said.

The Meadville native played three sports at Franklin County High School. He went to Mississippi College to play basketball, but was then asked to come out for the Choctaw baseball team and wound up playing three seasons. After getting his master’s degree in biology and pre-med, Zumbro got a teaching job in the Clinton High school system in 2001. He was then accepted into medical school at Pikeville College in Kentucky a year later, but turned it down in order to stay at Clinton High.

During his first year at Clinton, Zumbro was an assistant to current Hinds coach Sam Temple in 2002.

Zumbro later got a shot at the top spot. Temple’s replacement, Kelly Greer, left at mid-year and Zumbro was elevated to coach the Arrows in 2005. He led them to a 22-10 record. Instead of staying on as the head coach, Zumbro opted to go back to being an assistant as Eddie Lofton was hired from Seminary.

“I just felt the head coaching job there was not the right fit at that time. Plus, we had just had our first child,” Zumbro said.

While he took a step back in baseball, his duties under coach Scott Brown’s football program increased. He went from special teams coordinator to running the Arrows’ passing game for the 2009 season. Being able to raise money will be a key at Vicksburg since one of the big problems associated with the program is the practice facility. The Gators play their home games in one of the state’s best facilities, Bazinsky Field, but the on-campus site needs a lot of work and that’s something Wright intends to address.

“It’s something we’ve addressed and it’s been a big concern of ours. We’ve got to get more money approved, but we have started that process,” Wright said. “We’re going to fix up the outside and also do work on the field.”