SULLIVAN — Three familiar names have been hired by the Sullivan school board, one was done last spring Christy Molzen — the director of physical services at the Sullivan school district and a former Redskin volleyball coach — was again hired as volleyball coach. The other two positions were hired at the school board meeting Monday night: Jason Badman takes over for Nathan Becker as the new baseball coach and Tabitha Davis was named the new softball coach, taking over for Andy Wagner, who will remains the girls golf coach.
Badman was a volunteer assistant coach for Sullivan last year. His wife, Cami, teaches English at the high school.
"Last year we decided to move to Sullivan," said Badman, a former Mattoon Post 88 American Legion coach. "We love the school district. Working at First Mid Insurance Group has allowed me to continue to coach. When Becker got the football job I talked about applying with my wife and we thought maybe it was time to get back into coaching now that our son Bryce is going into kindergarten. I was fortunate enough that the administration feels confident in me and I was hired."
Sullivan athletics director Ryan Aikman said, "He has a lot of experience at a lot of different levels (Badman coached the Mattoon 15-year old Babe Ruth team to a state title in 2012 and a nine-and-under team in Arizona). He is very passionate about the game and his knowledge came through in the interview process."
Badman, a 1997 Villa Grove graduate and former all-Little Okaw Valley Conference catcher, was the head coach at his alma mater in 2012 and Tempe, Ariz., head coach in 2010 and 2011.
"I know a lot of the kids and there are good kids in high school that hopefully, we can get on the field this spring," said Badman. "Growing up in Villa Grove I always enjoyed coming to play baseball at Sullivan. They have a good program and I am excited to be back in coaching. It is going to be a lot of fun."
Sullivan was 8-18 last year overall and 6-8 in the Central Illinois Conference under Becker, who 12-14 overall and 6-7 in the CIC in 2017.
Davis has been an assistant at Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond the last several years under Jerry Lane, including last year when the Knights went 21-4 reaching the Sweet 16 — the furthest the Knights had been since the 2004 Lovington-Arthur team also reached the Sweet 16.
Davis, a special education teacher at Sullivan, is a 2011 Sullivan grad who went on to play softball at Parkland and is a 2016 Eastern Illinois grad. She has been and continues to be an assistant volleyball coach for the Redskins. Davis, a pitcher, earned first-team all-CIC honors all four years.
"She is very passionate about the game and wants to see the school she graduated from do well," said Aikman. "She is eager to work with the girls and try and get us to where we compete consistently for conference championships."
Sullivan was 8-17-1 last year and 2-12 in the CIC.
Molzen replaces Jennifer Young, who coached for the last three seasons, including last year's 0-30 season. Sullivan is 1-89 the last three seasons.
From 1997-2003, Molzen coached Sullivan, going 124-99, and was an assistant coach under Heather Lindenmeyer in 2009 and Lindsay Blickenstaff in 2006. She also coached Sullivan in 2011, going 14-18.
"Christy had a good run when she was the volleyball coach previously," said Aikman. "She is well-respected by the girls and we are hoping to jump-start the program. She has a lot of passion for the sport and wants the program to have success. The girls are working hard and doing what they are asked."
Molzen said she was talking with superintendent Ted Walk about the job after Young resigned.
"My kids are older now with my youngest a senior in college, and so I have time to do some stuff," said Molzen, who has 33 players in the program this year. "I want to try and establish this program again."