A new leader will take the helm of the Camdenton Lakers baseball team in the spring.
Former School of the Osage assistant principal Bryce Durnin will be returning to the Lake Area this fall to take a job at Camdenton High School assisting incoming freshmen transition to the high school level.
He will also have a chance to coach once again at the varsity level, something he has not had a chance to do since 2009 when he transitioned to School of the Osage from Park Hill South.
However, that does not make him a stranger to success on the diamond. Durnin got his start as an assistant varsity coach at Liberty High School near Kansas City.
“My first year we went to state and got third place,” he said in an interview Thursday. “My third year we won state, and then my fourth year, we had the best team that we had when I was there and we actually didn’t go to state at all. That’s kind of the way baseball works sometimes. We climbed to tenth nationally in the national baseball coaches poll.”
Originally a Ritenour graduate, Durnin played college baseball at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and later at William Jewell College in Liberty. After suffering from injuries, Durnin transitioned into coaching at the high school level.
Now, a decade and a half later, Durnin has a family with three boys, and he wants to make Camdenton the place where they play baseball.
“My dream has always been to coach my kids, and I’ve got a great opportunity to get back into big class baseball at a great school,” he said. He gestured to the Camdenton baseball field at the high school. “I can’t ask for anything better than what’s behind me here.”
While Durnin has not coached at the varsity level for quite some time, he believes he has the skill set to turn around a Camdenton baseball program that has struggled the past few years. 12-33 in its past two seasons. Durnin has continued to coach youth baseball, and he believes that has made him a more attentive coach.
“I coached my own kids’ teams, so I’ve been watching a lot of 8, 9, 10, 11-year old baseball the last six years,” Durnin said. “I know what it takes at the simplest level to do things by watching youth play and how that develops in a high school player. I really feel like coaching young kids is a different side of coaching that’s going to help.”
That youth experience should also help Durnin in his goal of not just coaching the varsity team but creating a baseball program within the Camdenton school system that will develop talent. Durnin has experience in that area. He created a small youth baseball program consisting of three teams during his tenure at the School of the Osage, and he has hosted baseball camps in the past with Osage head coach David Flaspohler.
He also plans on keeping an eye on talent from other sports.
“The kids that love baseball, they’ll come,” Durnin said. “I want to get those great athletes that play football and basketball, I want to jump on board with whatever [football] coach [Jeff] Shore and [basketball] coach [Jared] O’Quinn, whatever they’re doing.”
Ultimately, however, he wants to create a baseball culture at Camdenton, one that will last despite whatever record the team accrues.
“Down here, if we get kids to fall in love with the process of baseball and just forget about the outcome, I really think the wins and the outcome will take care of itself over time,” he said.