After 25 years, the Wallace Community College – Dothan Governors will soon have a new leader for its baseball program. Ryan Ihle will officially assume the job of head baseball coach on July 27.
“This means everything,” Ihle said in an exclusive interview. “I’ve been working extremely hard all year for this job ever since Mackey told me he might retire at the end of the season. This is like a dream come true.”
Ihle served as assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for the Govs this past season. He replaces Mackey Sasser who retired at the end of the 2022 season. Sasser led the Govs for 25 successful seasons.
“I think the College hired the right guy,” Sasser said. “Ryan is a hard worker and will continue to build on the success we’ve had at WCCD. A lot of guys come to Wallace because we have been successful at getting guys to the next level. Ryan will be able to continue that tradition because he knows a lot of people and those in the coaching community resect his opinion.”
WCCD president Dr. Linda C. Young said in a statement, “After an extensive search process, the College identified Ryan Ihle as the best fit for the position and the institution. His vision for the baseball team clearly aligns with the goals and expectations the college has established for our athletic programs. Having been on the Govs coaching staff this past year, Coach Ihle knows well the processes and procedures of our college and will provide stability and continuity to our student-athletes during this coaching change.”
Dr. Ryan Spry, WCCD Director of Student and Campus Services, who will also serve as the Govs Athletic Director, said the baseball job at Wallace attracted a lot of attention.
“This search generated considerable, nationwide interest from quality coaches across all levels of athletic competition,” Spry said. “But throughout the process, we kept coming back to one thing – what’s best for our student-athletes. Coach Ihle has recruited much of the current roster, is comfortable with them and their families, and will be able to provide a seamless transition in leadership from Coach Sasser’s outstanding tenure. I am confident the college has made the right decision and anticipate Coach Ihle – a former collegiate All-American and academic All-American himself – taking the WCCD baseball program to new heights on and off the field in the years to come.”
Ihle, who turns 28 just before he assumes his new role, has a very diverse background. He is originally from Brisbane, Australia where he attended Ferry Grove High School. He moved to the United States to pursue a baseball scholarship at Colby Community College in Kansas where he was named All-Conference shortstop. From there he attended Columbus State University in nearby Columbus, Ga. There he received second team All-America honors during his senior year. He has previously coached at Cloud County Community College in Kansas, and he coaches every summer at the Cape Cod League in Massachusetts. He was actually there when he got the word he had been named the new WCCD baseball coach.
“I want to thank Coach Sasser for all of his support this past season,” Ihle said. “I learned a lot from him. It wasn’t just the baseball stuff. Since he knew I was interested in the job, he taught me a lot of the administrative stuff and let me handle it throughout the year. I also want to thank Dr. Young and Dr. Spry for the confidence that placed in me.”
As for how his coaching style might differ from Sasser’s, Ihle said not a whole lot.
“I think the biggest change might be a little bit in the use of technology,” he said., “I’m not going to say what Coach Sasser did was old school because what he did was very successful. But there is a lot of technology out there so we might as well take advantage of some of it, particularly with our guys on the mound.”
“I am super excited about this opportunity,” Ihle concluded. “I’m ready to get after it and I’m already putting some things in place. The bottom line is, we want to get back to the State Tournament and win one more game than we did last year.” One more win would again send the Govs back to the Junior College World Series.