BURIEN — Since Jon O’Connor began coaching baseball in North Kitsap, he’s seen the Vikings take two Olympic League titles, for four in a row. He resurrected American Legion summer baseball for area ball players with the Kitsap Americans, which took the league title and went to State.
O’Connor has become accustomed to winning and playing baseball the right way, he said. It’s something he will take with him wherever he goes.
O’Connor will have the chance to show this spring what he’s learned, as the head coach of the Kennedy Catholic Lancers varsity baseball program. He was selected from about eight applicants.
Kennedy Catholic, a 3A school, is in the Seamount League. The league has a combination of 2A and 3A schools. It’s a competitive league.
Last season, the Lancers finished fourth in league play, with a 9-5 record. Hazen, Highline and Lindbergh finished in the top three. Lindbergh ended the regular season with a 14-0 league record.
O’Connor sees Lindbergh as the North Kitsap Vikings of the Seamount League. His plan, he said, is to “knock Lindbergh off their perch.”
O’Connor played varsity baseball for four years with Medical Lake High School, and played on the All-State team. He continued playing ball at Yakima Valley College. He began coaching in 2007.
In 2010, O’Connor moved to North Kitsap, where he helped coached back-to-back league championship teams with the Vikings. The Vikings also had a playoff appearance in 2012.
O’Connor said he’s had the opportunity to work with many aspiring athletes, including (but not limited to): Nick Benish, AJ Milyard, JT Nettleton, Nate Reece, and Zac Smit.
“I could name so many kids,” he said.
When applying for head coaching positions, O’Connor said he was unsure if he was ready. After his success with the Vikings and the Legion program, however, he changed his mind.
As part of a winning team at North Kitsap, O’Connor said he appreciates the insight and opportunities Vikings head coach Jeff Weible and the rest of the coaching staff has given him.
“[Weible] gave a young kid a chance,” O’Connor said. “He gave me all the opportunities in the world.”
O’Connor said he’s lucky to be able to have all the references he does from North Kitsap, which also include Virgil Taylor and Jerry Parrish.
Though the Vikings and Lancers will not play each other in league play, O’Connor said he expects to play a few exhibition games for some friendly competition.