Former Batavia wrestling coach Ben Morris cut his Bulldogs tenure short to return to his roots.
After a two-year tenure at Batavia, Morris accepted a coaching position at Prairie Central in Fairbury, about 40 miles northeast of Bloomington, where he spent three years teaching from 2000-03.
Morris, who turned in his letter of resignation after the season ended in February, said his decision to move was not related to wrestling.
“My wife and I have a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old,” Morris said. “When the job opened [at Prairie Central], I talked to my wife, and it just made sense. She has her parents and two sisters down there. It feels like home down there. It was my first job out of college, and we wanted to be with family and a support system.
“We were driving all the way down there all the time anyway; for baby-sitting and family stuff. The move just makes sense.”
Morris’ departure is one of two varsity coaching vacancies, wrestling and boys basketball, that Batavia athletic director Dave Andrews is working to fill. In an email Monday, Andrews indicated both would be filled in a similar time frame, which is likely to extend beyond the next school board meeting June 26.
Morris, who expressed frustration with the program’s number of sectional qualifiers after regionals in February, came to Batavia after a strong six-year tenure at Stillman Valley. He said he grew as a coach from his time with Batavia.
“What I will take from the experience is that every place you go is unique. Each place has a different way of doing things,” Morris said. “You have to realize that you have an idea in your head, and your ways and their ways of seeing things may not match up, and I’m more aware of that heading into Prairie Central.”
While Morris dismisses frustration playing a part in his decision to leave, he doesn’t discount that Batavia might have been a “bad fit.”
“I don’t disagree with that,” he said. “I definitely had some eye-opening experiences in my first year. But we made a lot of progress in my second year. The third year would have been even better. But, again, I’m leaving to be closer to family, and the choice is totally non-wrestling related.”
Morris said he is excited for the change, but isn’t overlooking its challenges.
“I have the challenge of being a new coach and trying to implement my rules and my way of doing things,” Morris said. “Having done that in Batavia, I’ve learned from my mistakes and what works well and what doesn’t. I feel very prepared. I know better what it’s like to come into a new program. I feel like I will be more experienced this time.”