Stonewall Jackson baseball coach Andy Devitt, whose five-year tenure arced from a 1-20 season to the team's first state playoff berth since 1971, resigned last week because of what he considers the school administration's lack of support for the program.
Devitt's 2005 team won 13 of its final 16 games and reached the Virginia AAA semifinals, and his last three teams qualified for the Northwestern Region tournament -- twice as Cedar Run District champions. But he said his requests for facility improvements and maintenance equipment were not acted upon.
"We asked for some things and basically those requests were ignored and I just felt like it was time to move on," Devitt said Tuesday. "We weren't getting what we needed. We weren't, in my opinion, taken very seriously. . . . I just felt like the kids were getting shortchanged and I had to step up to the plate for my program.
"We did some great things and we rewrote the record books up there and we had some great players and some great teams, but in the long run, that's not enough to overcome the bigger situation," said Devitt, who will continue to teach health and physical education at the school. "Ultimately, the people who get hurt are the kids that play."
During its postseason run in the spring, Stonewall players joked about a field they described as "scruffy" and "scrappy." Since a fire in June 2003 destroyed the press box and the electrical system at the field, the facility had been without a scoreboard, concession stand and public address system. Weeds and grass had infringed on parts of the playing surface.
Stonewall Principal David Huckestein said the delays in replacing the destroyed equipment were frustrating to him and the other administrators but added that the repairs, handled by Prince William County Schools, were largely out of their control because the permits for the job continually fell through. The original structure was built decades ago without a permit.
"It hurt. It definitely wasn't what I wanted as a principal," said Huckestein, who formerly coached basketball at the school. "I wanted to replace that thing right way and thought it'd be no problem, but obviously that wasn't the case.
"I feel I give 100 percent to our teams, our coaches, our clubs -- all our extracurricular activities -- and just to say I don't give the support, that kind of bothers me," Huckestein said. "That really bothers me."
New equipment, some of it already at Stonewall, should be up and running for next season, and the school also is working on trying to get water to the field to better maintain it, Huckestein said.
The Raiders, who finished fourth out of five teams in the Cedar Run in 2005 before continuing a late-season charge into the playoffs, next year will return five starters off a 16-12 team that lost, 2-0, in the state semifinals to eventual champion Princess Anne. Four key Stonewall seniors had been part of a 1-20 team in 2002.
The Raiders might be hard-pressed to make another state tournament bid next season. In part because of enrollment losses to new school Battlefield, Stonewall had no junior varsity team last spring, and only 22 players tried out for the varsity, Devitt said.