Posted: 3:14 pm Monday, May 5th, 2014
By Anthony Chiang
Once Royal Palm Beach athletic director Eric Patterson looked at Kason Gabbard’s resume, the decision was easy.
Royal Palm promoted Gabbard, who spent the past two seasons as the team’s pitching coach, to head coach Monday. Gabbard replaces Bart Wible, who resigned after two seasons at the helm because of a “family commitment.”
Gabbard, 32, graduated from Royal Palm Beach High and was selected by the Boston Red Sox in the 29th round of the 2000 Major League Baseball Draft. The left-handed pitcher made his MLB debut on July 22, 2006 for the Red Sox and was traded to the Texas Rangers in 2007. He posted a 9-7 record to go along with a 4.53 ERA in 163 innings in the majors.
“We explored a couple different options,” Patterson said of the hiring process. “You explore the options, but having this guy already on staff, having him be a former graduate and a Major League guy, it was a no-brainer in the end.”
The Wildcats recorded a 14-13 record this season, but it ended with a loss to Dwyer in the District 13-7A semifinals. Royal Palm has not advanced past the regional quarterfinals since 2000.
“As I become the head coach, I think I’ll earn more respect and get our kids to play together as a team,” Gabbard said. “I think the biggest issue we’ve had over the last couple of years is we’ve had our little cliques. But I grew up with some really good coaches and respecting the game is huge for me.”
Wible will keep his position as a teacher at Royal Palm. He has not ruled out helping the Wildcats’ baseball team in a different role.
“I don’t have any issues with that,” Gabbard said of having Wible around the program. “Bart is a great guy and he has to take care of his family first.”
About the Author
Anthony Chiang began his writing career in Gainesville at the University of Florida’s student-run newspaper. At The Independent Florida Alligator, he covered the school’s golf, volleyball, baseball, and football teams. The Miami native has also written for the Sun Sentinel and MLB.com, following the Tampa Bay Rays.