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Bulldogs bring in new baseball coach

King’s Fork’s new varsity baseball coach is experienced in practically every aspect of the game.

Mickey Irving played high school ball at Great Bridge and even that’s part of what’s exciting him about coaching the Bulldogs. It’s a chance to return close to family and friends. It’s a chance to coach baseball in the Southeastern District, a district Irving calls, “a baseball district.”

“Everything to build a good program is in place,” Irving said. “Of course, we’re playing in a tough, tough district.”

After playing for the Wildcats, Irving had a long career as a professional umpire. He umpired all over the minor leagues, including the Carolina League and the International League.

He left umpiring and after graduating from college, Irving went on to teach and coach at Bishop Sullivan Catholic, Hertford High in Ahoskie, N.C. and for the last seven years, Cape Hatteras High.

At Cape Hatteras, Irving also coached basketball, high school football and middle school football at times during his tenure there.

“It’s a really small school. There weren’t many coaches in the building, so I sort of went ahead and coached wherever we needed someone,” Irving said.

As a part-time gig, Irving is a scout for the Atlanta Braves, traveling to college and other high school games when he can on weekends.

If one thing’s for sure, Irving’s bringing love for the game to the Bulldogs.

“This even goes back to playing at Great Bridge. It’s always been a goal of mine to coach in the Southeastern District,” Irving said.

Irving played for Chesapeake coaching and teaching legend Martin Oliver. Oliver coached multiple sports, taught and was an athletic director for 45 years at Great Bridge and Hickory before retiring in 2009.

“I count him as a great mentor and the reason I got into coaching. How he ran things is how I like to run things,” Irving said.

Irving takes over after J.B. Varney retired following this past spring. Varney coached the Bulldogs for the first six years of the program’s existence and coached various sports at Suffolk schools for 23 years.

“When I saw the facilities, when I met with the principal, and I know King’s Fork’s had a lot of success in other sports, so I know there are a lot of good athletes, I felt this is a really good situation all the way around,” Irving said.

For his day job, Irving will be teaching in the same field he taught while at Cape Hatteras. He works with students on credit recovery programs in basically any and every subject, from social students, what Irving earned a degree in, to math, sciences and English.

The Bulldogs won five games in 2009 and four games last season. Irving has work to do even while the upcoming season is seven months away.

“We’ve got to make sure all the guys are in position to play ball through the fall somewhere,” Irving said.

An overall conditioning program and a program specifically for the pitchers are also on deck.

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to build a good program. Everything’s in place to compete in the Southeastern District,” Irving said.