ROCK ISLAND — Jay Wayland is not a quitter, so when the veteran Rock Island High School baseball coach turned in his letter of resignation on Wednesday, it was not an easy day.
Following his eighth season as the Rocks' baseball coach, Wayland can walk away with way more positives than negatives about his tenure.
"When I was brought in, it was with the premise that we had some challenges ahead," Wayland said. "We had to bring our feeder program back, and I think we have done a great job with that. We have made some huge improvements in our field with a new backstop and fencing. Our hitting cage is one of the best around.
"We turned the old Lincoln school into a great indoor facility with turf on three-quarters of the court. We made improvements annually and I feel good about where we are."
While those things were important, it is the players he coached who he will miss most. He also believes he has left a program that is in shape to do big things in the near future.
"The experience with the kids is something I will never forget," Wayland said. "Starting with a stronger feeder program, we have finally started to see those kids come through to the high school and ready to play at a higher level.
"I thank everyone who has helped us these (eight) years and I want to thank the kids. I appreciate the opportunity. My heart is and always will bleed red and gold. There are plenty of highlights."
Among the high points is his 400th career win taking place while at Rock Island and being a part of the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association. He has helped a number of local players get into the annual Coaches Associations All-Star Game, including four from the Western Big 6 Conference this season.
Wayland will continue to teach science at Rocky and be the varsity football outside linebackers coach. He also will continue to be one of the biggest fans of the Rock Island baseball program.
"The biggest thing for me is I will miss coaching these guys," he said. "I am not a quitter; it just came time to move on. My message for the boys is that there is no breaking the mold and making sure the program continues to grow."