AKRON — Tippecanoe Valley baseball has promoted one of its own to take the reins of the program in 2018.
Valley grad and Vikings JV coach Greg Prater was officially named the school’s new head baseball coach Monday. He replaces three-year head coach Justin Branock.
“It means a lot to me. It’s something that I’ve been striving to get to,” said Prater of the promotion.
“It’s just been a goal of mine to be a varsity baseball coach. The group of kids that are in high school at this time is a group that I’ve been a part of when they started playing sports. So it means a lot to get to see them all the way from when they were eight and nine years old to graduating high school. It’s just been great being an assistant, but I’m finally getting this opportunity to be the head baseball coach and it means a tremendous amount to me.”
Prater, who himself played both baseball and football at Valley before graduating in 1992, has served as an assistant coach under Branock the past three years, including the past two as JV head coach. He is also a former assistant football coach at Valley, serving four years in that capacity until his final season last fall.
Not only does Prater have three years of high school baseball coaching experience, he also has an extensive background as a summer coach for the Michiana Scrappers and has spent the past six years coaching summer ball all the way from 10U to 15U.
Branock’s position became open when he accepted a job as catchers and hitting coach at Huntington University, and Prater jumped at the opportunity to take over for the former Valley skipper.
“Coach Branock, coaching with him for three years has been great, not just for me but for the kids and the program. With Branock, we knew his goal was to eventually become a collegiate coach, and I’m so glad that he did,” said Prater. “I’m happy for him to get what he’s always wanted. I know he hated to leave the program he got started. It’s rolling in the right direction. We’ve got a great group of young kids, freshmen and sophomores, not to mention our seniors and juniors. We’re excited. When he resigned, me and him talked, there isn’t a coach out there that wouldn’t be happy to have this group of kids and be able to coach them.”
With his in-house experience, Prater expects a smooth transition into his new head coaching role, and so does Valley Athletic Director Duane Burkhart.
“Greg is very familiar with our kids; he’s very familiar with the teams on our schedule. We look for him to carry on the foundation of our baseball program, which Coach Branock had worked hard at the past three years,” Burkhart said.