Coach Shaggy: Legion team coming together under new leadership

Published 12:58 pm Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

Tristan Wyatt made a name for himself in Rowan County as a fearless 5-7, 150-pound catcher. Everyone called him “Shaggy” because of the long hairstyle he sported as a player – and now he’ll try to make a name for himself in Mocksville.

Wyatt is the new Senior Legion coach for the local American Legion program.

Wyatt, 25, is an affable, easygoing young man. He isn’t a screamer. But don’t let his fun-loving demeanor fool you. As a player, he was as tough as a road paver and he has a pure hunger for the game and he’ll bring considerable passion to Rich Park.

“He grabbed that uniform in the locker room and said: ‘This is what you play for.’ He pointed to the sleeve and said: ‘You play for each other and we play for the community and that’s what it’s about,’” said Charles Kurfees, who was the Mocksville Senior Legion coach for 12 years before stepping down in February.

Kurfees searched for his replacement for several weeks. Wyatt was a secret just waiting to be discovered. Kurfees discovered him with help from Ronnie Raper, who helps run the Kannapolis Legion program.

“(Raper) told me I’ve got a boy that might be interested in coaching. He loves it,” Kurfees said.

Wyatt grew up in Landis and recently moved back from Conway, S.C.

“I told my wife (Sydney): ‘I really wish I could get back into coaching,’” Wyatt said. “I’ve been in Legion ball for a long time, so I was missing the game. Ronnie Raper called me up out of nowhere. He said: ‘There’s a Mocksville opening and I put your name out there.’ My wife said go ahead and do it.”

Wyatt was a swimmer/baseball athlete in high school, graduating from South Rowan in 2016.

He was as dedicated as they come to Legion ball. Between the junior and senior levels, he played Legion for six years, the last three for Kannapolis after the Southern Rowan program folded. He was a constant at catcher. Even though he never possessed great size, he was an absolute dog behind the plate.

He attended college at Coastal Carolina and continued playing baseball as a four-year member on the club team.

“I had opportunities to go play (college baseball), but I had to make a decision for myself,” Wyatt said. “Academics were more important, so I ended up going to Coastal. Being three hours away and being lonely, I had to find something. And club ball was there and it lit me up. It helped me make friends. Besides Legion ball, those were the best times of my life.”

With a laugh, he added: “We had two big bowling balls that were starters (at catcher), and I came in and took over.”

He graduated from Coastal Carolina in 2022 with a masters in business. During his college years, he picked up coaching experience. He was head coach of the Southern Rowan Junior Legion in 2018. In Senior Legion, he was an assistant under veteran Joe Hubbard at Kannapolis in 2019-20. In 2021, he was an assistant at Horry Post 111 in Conway.

Last month, Tristan and Sydney moved to Kannapolis. They are in the process of building a house. He works in Mooresville, “so it’s about 30 minutes to Rich Park,” he said.

Everyone who knows him calls him Shaggy. It’s a nickname that has stuck for years.

“A guy (Chandler Hubbard) played for Northwest Cabarrus (High School),” he said. “We played tournament ball together and he looked at me one day and said, ‘You look like Shaggy from Scooby-Doo,’ and that has stuck with me since then. I think my head turns around a lot more for ‘Shaggy’ than it does ‘Tristan.’”

Wyatt has his work cut out. Mocksville hasn’t managed a winning season since 2012. It went 10-19 in 2022, which followed a 5-13 campaign in 2021.

“I just hope we get kids to play,” Kurfees said. “That’s the main thing.”

Wyatt is eager to get going. A registration/team meeting will be held Sunday at Mando Field at 6 p.m.

“I want to bring some life back into the program,” he said. “I want a winning team. I’m willing to talk to anybody and everybody because we need recruits. It’s going to be fun.”

Wyatt, who turned 25 in March, is the seventh head coach in Mocksville’s 41-year history. The first five were Ron Morgan (1982-84), Barry Whitlock (1985-88), Dale Ijames (1989-95), George Daywalt (1996-98) and Mike Lovelace (1999-2009). Kurfees took over in 2010.