Prep baseball: Tug of family, time help pull Pat Waer to Clovis East

College assistant returns to high school roots as Timberwolves' new baseball coach.

The Fresno BeeJune 14, 2014 

Former Fresno State and Washington State baseball assistant Pat Waer has returned to the high school level to coach Clovis East. He coached at Dinuba and Central before launching his college career.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Pat Waer, choosing family over the esteem of coaching major college baseball -- and the out-of-town time demands that go with it -- is returning to the Valley's high school game.

Once a coach at Dinuba and Central, and recently an assistant for eight years at Fresno State and Washington State, he's taking over Clovis East's baseball program.

"Re-evaluating," he says, "as exciting as (coaching college) is, I came to the decision: Can I do this another 30 years with the grind of recruiting? I came to the decision, no, I don't want to miss my kids' whole life and my family."

Waer, 41, and wife Natalie have sons, Jack, 9, and Alex, who will turn 5 in July.

"One of the primary reasons I'm getting out of D-I baseball is to be home," he says. "I've spent 60 nights on the road in the summer and 40 in the fall and spring; I've missed Jack's whole life. That's part of (being a college assistant) and it's not fun."

Waer wasn't suggesting "fun" didn't find a place in his college coaching career.

Conversely, he has a College World Series championship ring to prove otherwise while assisting Mike Batesole at Fresno State in 2008. He delivered several nationally ranked recruiting classes as the Bulldogs' recruiting coordinator and had an impact in the same role at Washington State.

His recruiting responsibilities had him evaluating the prep game from San Diego to Canada.

But then Clovis East coach Chad Rolen resigned and Waer was paying attention, having been raised in the area. He attended Clovis West for two years before graduating from Mead High-Spokane, Wash.

"There's a lot of good baseball in the West," he says, "especially in south Orange County. But there is no place concentrated with as many good players, facilities and support as the Clovis district.

"Also, there's the factor how much people care, and there's nowhere like it in comparison to Fresno and Clovis. So when I saw the Clovis East job was opening up, it was a no-brainer."

He went a combined 120-80-1 in seven years at Dinuba and Central from 1999-2005. He was then a volunteer assistant at Fresno State for one season and an assistant at Fresno City in 2007 before joining Batesole's staff full time in 2008.

In addition to Waer teaching American government at Clovis East, his wife has been hired at Freedom Elementary, part of the high school's feeder system and where their boys will attend.

Waer, as the Timberwolves' third coach in three years, will inherit a program that has gone 15-45 overall and 3-27 in the Tri-River Athletic Conference the past two seasons.

The league boasts a Who's Who of the Central Section's coaching fraternity -- James Patrick at Clovis, which just won the D-I title and finished No. 1 in the state; his sons, Kevin and Chris at Clovis West and Clovis North; Tom Donald at Buchanan, which finished No. 1 nationally in 2011; and Central's Jeff Prieto, another former major-college assistant (UNLV).

"Clovis East has fallen on hard times," Waer says, "and their enrollment is down. But the housing market is coming back, and we need to build on their Little League and Babe Ruth programs. We need to build an identity in the Clovis East baseball district."

Waer becomes Clovis East's second hire of a former major college coach in a high-profile boys sport in a year. The first one made an immediate impact.

One season after the boys basketball team went 8-20, ex-Fresno State women's basketball coach Adrian Wiggins led Clovis East to a 22-9 record this past winter.

The reporter can be reached at aboogaard@fresnobee.com or @beepreps on Twitter.

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