High School Baseball

'To have him back is huge': Handlin returns home to lead Rams baseball

By Dennis Silva II, Sports Editor
Posted 5/27/21

Will Handlin badly wanted the Mayde Creek head baseball coaching job. To say it was destiny might have been a slight exaggeration, but only slight. It was, if nothing else, perfect casting, and the former Rams football and baseball standout was ready to come home.

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High School Baseball

'To have him back is huge': Handlin returns home to lead Rams baseball

Posted

Will Handlin badly wanted the Mayde Creek head baseball coaching job. To say it was destiny might have been a slight exaggeration, but only slight. It was, if nothing else, perfect casting, and the former Rams football and baseball standout was ready to come home.

Of course, Handlin was grateful and appreciative for his job as Katy High’s assistant baseball coach, a role he had held since 2016. As a Tiger, he learned from the best of the best. He embraced and attacked his responsibility as pitching coach and head coach of the sophomore team the same way he called signals and hit fastballs as a Ram.

But there was no question where his heart desired to be.

“I wanted it,” said Handlin, 31. “It was an opportunity and a dream come true to come home. Any chance you get to do that, and you can make a difference in the community that has given you so much … you have to jump on it. You have to maximize it.”

While not the deciding factor, Handlin’s passion for the green and white was significant in Katy ISD hiring him May 19 to lead Mayde Creek baseball.

“Will had a plan specifically for Mayde Creek,” said Mayde Creek campus athletic coordinator/head football coach J Jensen, a former Ram, Class of 1998, who was hired in early March to lead the Rams football program. “So, I think knowing the community and knowing, like, to go get Bear Creek Little League rallied up and to go get Katy National and Katy PONY (leagues). What we’re trying to do is activate the younger ages, build pride in the community, and have these little kids grow up wanting to be Rams. Knowing the community was important.”

Handlin is a 2008 graduate of Mayde Creek, where he was a two-year letterman in baseball and quarterbacked the Rams’ football team back to the postseason in 2007 for the first time since 1997.

Handlin threw for 1,500 yards and 12 touchdowns that senior year.

“When Will was our quarterback, he was a leader on the field,” said Jensen, who was an offensive line coach from 2005-2010 for the Rams. “He was hard-working, hard-nosed and didn’t take anything from anybody as a 17-18-year old. I’m excited about the energy he’s bringing. He can get people to do way more than they think they can.”

Handlin remembers how special it was at Mayde Creek when the Rams were winning.

“The whole atmosphere of the school was changed,” Handlin said. “Kids were excited. Teachers were excited. Stands were packed on Friday nights. And that carried over into baseball. It was so much fun. The community was amazing.

“And I think now with Coach Jensen coming back and this opportunity coming up ... it felt like two like-minded guys that are going to row the boat in the same direction.”

Handlin played baseball at Murray State University as a relief pitcher. He spent two years coaching baseball with his father, Bill, at Spring Woods High before coming to Katy High in 2016, where he was an assistant football coach under Gary Joseph for four years and one of baseball coach Tom McPherson’s top lieutenants.

Under Joseph, Handlin admired the “expectation for excellence.” Under McPherson, the state’s winningest active high school baseball coach, Handlin learned the business side of being a head coach.

“Coach Mac prepares his assistants to be head coaches,” Handlin said. “I never realized, until I started diving into everything here at Mayde Creek, how well he prepared me. The way he handles things administratively, I learned a ton.”

Success was ingrained in Handlin’s upbringing. Until the seventh grade, he spent a lot of time around Spring Woods High. Handlin’s godfather, the late great Charlie Maiorana, was the longtime coach at Spring Woods and the winningest baseball coach in Spring Branch ISD with 703 career wins. Bill was an assistant under Maiorana.

Along with Joseph and McPherson, Handlin also learned from former Mayde Creek football coaches Joe Sheffy and Lance Carter.

Handlin’s coaching pedigree is impressive.

“I’ve known nothing but excellence, and the expectation is we’re going to go get after it,” Handlin said. “You give everything you have all the time.”

Jensen, whose oldest son, J, used to compete against Handlin’s team as a sophomore when J was at Taylor, has always been impressed with Handlin’s coaching discipline. Handlin holds players accountable for their actions, no matter how talented the player is.

“It’s going to be above reproach, everyone is going to do right, everyone is going to be locked in,” Jensen said. “Will is highly invested in Mayde Creek. To have him back is huge.”

Handlin will emphasize relationship-building as the backbone of his program’s culture.

“Everything in life comes back to how you treat people and the relationships you build with them,” Handlin said. “I go to church in the community. It’s about building a trust that I’m here for the kids.”

Caleb Matthews, Katy High’s ace who graduated this season as the program’s all-time leader in career wins (21), said Handlin is not only a coach, but a true friend.

“He helped shape me into the player I am today,” Matthews said. “Not only physically, but mentally. He puts his all into everything he does. He is a friend I can count on and I know he and I will remain close in the future. I am beyond blessed for the relationship we have created. He will be an amazing head coach.”

Handlin is fond of saying coaching is as much about people as it is about X’s and O’s, if not more so. At Mayde Creek, it won’t be so much about pitching or hitting as it is about the mentality.

“It’s going to be full-go, all the time,” Handlin said. “It’s going to be high energy, high intensity and a lot of competition. If you build competitors, it doesn't matter if it’s Murderers’ Row from the Yankees standing across from you, you’re going to give it everything you have and compete. We’re going to do everything we can, as hard as we can.”

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