GLADSTONE - For the first time in a long time, Don Lauscher watched high school baseball from the stands last season, and he didn't particularly enjoy it.
"I really missed working with the kids. That's the bottom line," Lauscher said Monday afternoon. "I love teaching baseball and being around the kids. That's my hobby and I missed it. I went to a few games last year, but not a lot."
Lauscher parted ways with the Escanaba Eskymos in September 2011, after going 130-27 over five seasons, citing professional differences.
But as they say, when one door closes, a new one may open.
With Gladstone re-debuting baseball in 2013 after a decades long hiatus, it presented the perfect opportunity for Lauscher to practice his passion.
Monday evening at the Gladstone School Board meeting, Lauscher was introduced as the Braves head coach, and will lead the team onto the field for the first time next year.
"We're very excited about the opportunity to have baseball in our district. We did many years ago, but it's been a long time coming. I know it's something that a lot of people are passionate about and we look forward to a successful inaugural season," said Gladstone Athletic Director Matt Houle.
"Don brings a wealth of experience. He and I have worked together for many years since back when he was a Legion (baseball) coach here. I expect it will be a very smooth transition. I know Don and I are very excited to be working together to bring forth an exciting season and a very solid baseball team here at Gladstone."
Lauscher said he's thrilled to be stepping into an organization with an established feeder program and working with people he knows and trusts.
"The Gladstone system under (Indians coach) Jim Groleau has had quality baseball these last few years, and I hope to continue to add to that program. Legion baseball is pretty much a feeder program for high school and I hope to continue that quality of program," he said. "The biggest challenge is getting to know the kids and working with a new administration, but being that I know (Gladstone superintendent) Jay Kuibertis and Matt Houle and have been friends with both of them for years, it will be a lot of fun working with a top quality administration."
Lauscher said his experience coaching baseball at the high school and Legion levels will help him in his new position.
"The thing about high school baseball, is that it's a short season, fast and furious. You really have to get kids honing skills and get them in shape in a hurry, whereas in Legion the season is more spread out. Coaching is quite a bit different at the Legion level," he said.
"The fact is, at the high school level, when those kids put on the purple and white, it will be a lot bigger than playing Legion. Having coached at both levels, to me, high school baseball is second to none."
Lauscher plans on getting started right away to get what is expected to be a young inaugural team an early taste.
"I'd like to do a little fall ball for kids that aren't currently playing other sports. Our coaching staff will make themselves available twice a week until the weather deteriorates, and we've always done that," Lauscher said. "I'd like to keep kids pitching and hitting through the winter in the gym as well, as time permits."
The final piece that makes Gladstone an intriguing fit for Lauscher is the opportunity to coach with his family. Joining him on his staff will be his son Kurt Lauscher and nephew BJ Lauscher, as well Gladstone High School graduate Steve Towns.
"Over the summer I took on a Little League team and my son Kurt, who played at Central Michigan University also coached Little League this year. Kurt will be an assistant, as well as my nephew, BJ. Working with my son and nephew was another big factor in this thing. Steve will also be assisting me and has been my assistant for four years.
"I'm really looking forward to this opportunity and I'd like to thank Jay Kulbertis and the school board for giving me the opportunity to get back into coaching. Hopefully we'll have a lot of fun and success."
In additional coaching moves at Gladstone, Sadie Paradise will take over as freshman volleyball coach and Clayton Castor will be appointed freshman boys basketball coach.