July 22, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Ben Owens returning to alma mater as Northwood’s new varsity baseball coach

Former Northwood player Ben Owens is the new baseball coach at the school. (Photo courtesy Owens family).

After spending 10 years coaching baseball at Tustin High School, the last three as head coach, Ben Owens is returning to his alma mater at Northwood.

Owens, 34, was named head varsity baseball coach at Northwood, replacing Josh Keithly, who resigned after one season, according to Sierra Wang, co-athletic director at Northwood. Owens was an assistant coach at Northwood under Rob Stuart for four years before going to Tustin.

“I found out about the job and did some homework on it and decided I wanted to see if I can take over this challenge, it just happened to be that it worked out, nothing crazy, I didn’t leave for anything other than getting a shot to get back to the alma mater to try and take over the program and make it what I remember it was when I was in school there,” Owens said Tuesday.

“I’m excited for the opportunity and looking forward to coming back home and seeing what I can do to help this program.”

As a sophomore, Owens was a part of the first Northwood league championship team in 2006. He was a three-year starter and graduated from Northwood in 2008, played one year at Chapman University and one year at Fullerton College before starting his coaching career. He later earned his bachelor’s degree in sports management at Concordia University Irvine.

“I’m excited, it’s always something I figured I would do, just because it is home and I really enjoyed everything about the school when I was there and my first stint as an assistant was great, I learned a lot from Rob,” he said. “I just want to see what I can do and try and make it my own.”

“We are thrilled to welcome him back home to Northwood,” Wang said in a letter to parents of the baseball families. “Coach shares that he is excited for a new challenge and thrilled to come back home to his alma mater. He looks forward to meeting our dedicated players and their families soon, and we can’t wait to see what he does with this talented group.”

Owens spent the last three years as head coach at Tustin succeeding Charles Chatman and led the Tillers to the CIF playoffs two of the three seasons.

Owens said he was proud to have led Tustin to the CIF Division 5 semifinals in 2022. The Tillers lost to Burroughs 2-0. It was Tustin’s first appearance in the semifinals since the 2000 season. Tustin was 15-13 overall last season, and advanced into the second round of the CIF playoffs before losing to Palm Desert 8-3.

“More importantly all those kids who have been a part of my life and found a way to give me everything they had day to day, those are the things I will remember the most, the days out there with the boys and how hard they worked,” he said. “More than any win or any loss, it’s watching them all become young men, those are the most important things for me.

“I know all those boys who are still there will do everything they can to continue to succeed and I wish them nothing but the best and nothing but luck as well.”

Owens will be taking over a Northwood program that captured the Pacific Coast League title with a 17-3-1 record and has some talented players returning including pitcher Paul Grossman, a USC commit.

“I’m just kind of looking forward to seeing what they can do as soon as I can get out there,” he said. “I know they won the league title last year. I think year number one is trying to continue some of that success that they’ve had and if everything works out, I think a playoff berth is really what we’re shooting for. We will see.

“I know there are a couple arms who are pretty good and hopefully there are some bats there that I haven’t heard about, but I hear good things so that’s always a good sign.”

Owens and his wife Christine have been married 10 years and have a 4-year-old daughter Autumn. His wife and daughter are “the loves of my life and my awesome wife continues to support me and allows me to do all this coaching stuff and my daughter is becoming of an age where she can come and watch now, so that’s been kind of exciting.”

His parents, Dick Owens and Rachel Owens, are also among his biggest fans. Both are involved with the Ryan Lemmon Foundation and Dick Owens has been tournament director for a number of events the foundation stages, including the Orange County All-Star Baseball Game.

Ben Owens said he’s still finalizing his Northwood coaching staff.

“I know some guys will be back and we have some guys will be coming over,” he said.

A replacement for Owens at Tustin has not been announced.

“The Tustin High School administration cannot thank Coach Owens enough for his decade of service and dedication to the Tustin High School baseball program and wish him great success as he heads back to his Alma Mater,” said Athletic Director Ringo Bossenmeyer.

Tustin officials hope to have a new coach in place before the start of the school year, Bossenmeyer added.

—Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com