By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Scott Gurss, the newly named director of baseball operations at Wichita State still remains true to his baseball roots.
Gurss played two seasons at Northwestern Oklahoma State and spent another year as a student assistant before graduating in 2008.
“I’m going to be a Ranger forever,’’ he said. “The community and people in Alva were really good to me as a player and a coach. It’s a great community and they do things the right way.’’
Gurss, a first baseman, was especially close to then NWOSU coach Joe Phillips, who recruited him out of Carl Albert State College in Poteau.
“Joe is a high-energy guy,’’ Gurss said. “He was a players coach. Everyone loved him. Whether you were a starter or a utility player off the bench, he did everything he could for his players.’’
Phillips was a role model for him as a coach.
“His office door was always open,’’ he said. “He showed me stuff like that ... just the way he treated people in the community, it definitely stood out.’’
Gurss hit .306 as a junior. His senior year “was not up to par.’’
“We played hard for Joe,’’ he said. “It could have been better, but it was a great experience.’’
As a student assistant, Gurss learned the “office work’’ of coaching, helping devise practice schedules and fundraising programs. He implemented workout schedules for players.
“It helped let me see the other side of the lines,’’ he said. “It’s where I got my feet wet in coaching.’’
Phillips occasionally let him coach third base.
“I doubt if I was a student assistant at Arkansas, I would get to coach third base,’’ Gurss said. “It worked out well. Coach Phillips and I had a great relationship.’’
Gurss really got his feet wet that summer as the head coach of the Alva Renegades American Legion team.
“That was a great experience,’’ he said. “The community took real good care of me, especially the Holder family. We had a real good team and got to play some games in Colorado.’’
Gurss has wanted to be a coach since his days at Edmond Deer Creek.
“I was a kid that slept and ate baseball,’’ he said. “It was just baseball 100 percent. I didn’t feel like it was a job because I loved doing it. It’s never felt like a job.’’
Phillips was fired after the 2008 season, but Gurss’ NWOSU connections continued to pay off.
Noah Scott, who was at NWOSU the same time as Gurss, was an athletic strength and trainer for the Cotuit Ketteleers of the Cape Cod summer league in 2009.
After an assistant coach backed out, Long recommended Gurss for the job to head coach Mike Roberts, who ended up hiring Gurss. Gurss spent five summers in the league.
“I guess I gave the best interview,’’ he said.
The Ketteleers had a catcher, James McCann, who played at Arkansas. When a volunteer assistant’s job came up, McCann recommended Gurss.
“He told them I was a good coach who could throw good left-handed BP (batting practice),’’ Gurss said.
Gurss talked with Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn for 25-30 minutes and was hired the same day.
No pay, but good experience.
“You have to get by with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but I was learning with the best,’’ he said.
He worked with hitting coach Todd Butler, who was named last month to replace Gene Stephenson as the WSU head coach.
Butler hired Gurss.
Gurss spent the past year at Neosho, Mo., which reached the Division I Junior College World Series. Gurss had coached in the 2012 College World Series with the Razorbacks.
“Coach Van Horn and coach Butler didn’t want me to leave (for Neosho),’’ Gurss said, “but I didn’t have any recruiting on my resume. It was a big challenge for me to see if I could go out and do it.’’
He learned from Neosho coach Steve Murry, who has more than 900 wins. He learned more about making budgets and travel.
“He was a very goal-orienated person,’’ Gurss said. “He made sure every goal was met. That’s why he has almost 900 wins. I can’t say enough about what he did for me.’’
As director of baseball operations at Wichita State, Gurss won’t be doing any on-field coaching, but will be responsible for coordinating the behind the scenes activities such as travel and setting up recruiting visits. He also will run the WSU summer camps.
“It’s my job to get the names of prospects out to our coaches,’’ he said. “It’s going to be a challenge, but it’s going to be fun. It’s unreal here. I’m excited to be a part of the Shocker family.’’
But he still keeps his ties with his NWOSU family.
“I can’t say enough good things about the Rangers and the job coach Ryan Bay is doing there,’’ he said. “He’s set up some really good fundraising programs. The Glass and Miller families have done a lot for that program.’’