Rantoul — After eight seasons coaching at Rantoul Township High School, head baseball coach Jon Donovan has resigned.
Donovan will go back to his alma mater — Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley school district — to teach physical education and health. Donovan said does not plan to coach in the near future. Donovan has plans to be an administrator in the future and will use his extra time to further his education in hope of achieving that goal.
“There are many coaches that work on their administrative degrees while they are coaching, but I have realized in the past couple of years that I do not have that in me, so my focus is going to be obtaining my Type 75 for the time being,” Donovan said.
While at RTHS Donovan’s baseball teams won 125 games — averaging a little more than 15 wins a year.
Wins were not the only thing Donovan brought to the table. In his final four years the RTHS baseball team won the ABCA Academic Excellence Award. The award is given to teams with at least a 3.0 GPA on 4.0 scale.
Donovan was recently given the ABCA Century Club award, which recognizes member coaches for every 100 victories they accumulate.
Coming to Rantoul was different for Donovan.
“I came into the Rantoul community not knowing one single person. From day one the community has always showed amazing support in the athletic, academic and general workforce environments,” Donovan said.
RTHS athletic director Travis Flessner said Donovan will be hard to replace.
“He’s been great for our program. Not only the wins; he made our young men great adults,” Flessner said.
Donovan has many fond moments of his time at RTHS.
“When I look at the memories as a coach that come to mind, sure there are some that stand out, such as our 2012 conference championship win that started at midnight in Bloomington and our 2019 spring trip to Gulf Shores, Ala., but I would have to say that its more about the opportunities that I received,” he said.
One of the opportunities he had was to groom 13 different collegiate baseball players in his eight years with the program.
He taught physical education at Eastlawn Elementary in Rantoul.
“The opportunities to be around hard-working, talented ballplayers and students, great coaches that helped and supported in the efforts to maximize each teams ability levels, tremendous administrators and teachers at RCS and RTHS that always showed support and pushed me to become a better teacher and coach each year and the supportive parents year in and year out,” Donovan said.
Donovan said it is more than just a coach that helps build a program.
“It takes a community for kids on the field and in the classrooms to succeed along with a willingness from the kids, and I think that is where my job satisfaction came from,” Donovan said.
It has always been a dream for Donovan to get back to his alma mater, and he says this opportunity was too good to pass up.
“I have always wanted to eventually get back to my alma mater in the GCMS school district and give back to the community that helped raised me,” Donovan said.
The Eagles will be looking for a new baseball coach for the first time in eight years.
“We will post the opening soon and take our time finding the right fit; we are currently at square one in the job search,” Flessner said.
He knows that finding Donovan’s replacement is going to be tough.
“We just have to find the best candidate; he will be difficult to replace because of his leadership,” Flessner said.
Donovan was satisfied with his time at RTHS and hopes for success in the future for the Eagles.
“Winning games is a lot of fun, but the true satisfaction came from building relationships that last a lifetime and watching students and athletes grow intellectually, emotionally and athletically, and that is what Rantoul is all about and will always continue to be,” Donovan said.
You can contact Ryan Birch at Rbirch@Rantoulpress.com or on twitter @RyanBirchRP