Mountlake Terrace High School has named a replacement for long-time baseball coach Andrew Watters, and it happens to be one of Watters’ former players.
Ryan Sells, a 2009 MTHS graduate and All-Wesco League First Team baseball selectee during his senior year, is now the new head coach of the Hawks’ baseball program.
Sells, who played college ball at Everett Community College and then Lewis and Clark State in Idaho has been the junior varsity baseball coach at Interlake High School for the past four seasons. He jumped at the opportunity to coach at Terrace, where he currently works as a paraeducator.
Taking over the baseball program led by Watters for two decades before he resigned last year — and replacing someone who was instrumental in developing Sells’ own love for the game — is somewhat daunting, Sells said.
“I’m excited, I’m nervous,” Sells confessed. “I mean, I can show confidence all that I want, but sure, I’m nervous.”
Last year’s Terrace varsity baseball team slipped to 9-12 after the program’s most successful year in school history in 2018. That’s when the team went 20-9 and played in the 2A state championship game. And while Sells would love to quickly get the team back to competing for a state title again, he is most focused on how he can make a long-term impact on the program.
“We’ve got to build a culture and a foundation, and it starts right now,” Sells said. “And being able to tell (local youth) coaches, tell the community, that (I’m) not just here for one year or two years — I want to be able to make this a long stretch just like the long tenure that Andrew Watters had before me.”
Sells believes he has two distinct advantages in his efforts to lead the baseball program at Terrace: He works in the school and he is an alum.
Being at the school full-time gives him a chance to stay connected with students, staff and administrators, Sells said.
“Just staying personable with the kids, I think that’s huge in the end,” he explained. “Being able to communicate with them, to show them that you are there — that I am a presence.”
As a graduate of Terrace, Sells feels a bond to the school and the many alumni that call it home, and that bond becomes a factor in building self-confidence, he said.
“I think I pack my bag a little differently in the morning when I come here …. knowing that I am an alumni,” Sells said. “I don’t feel any pressure — I just feel like I’m going to be the best coach I can be.”
As a student at Terrace from 2005 to 2009, Sells also played Hawk basketball under coach Nalin Sood, another alumni-turned-coach at the school. With Sood still teaching and coaching at Terrace today, Sells quickly turned to his former coach for advice and direction after he got the baseball coaching job.
“That was the first guy I talked to,” Sells said of Sood. “I have the utmost respect for him. There’s no one else better than that man in this building. Obviously, other people as well have helped me along the way, but I think his helping hand has been something that has been much more than a mentor toward me. He’s shown me the ropes being able to be a first-year coach.”
Sells is adding the head baseball job at Terrace to an already busy personal schedule — in addition to his paraeducator duties at the school, he is working to earn a masters degree in physical education and just got married four months ago. But Sells says he is determined to do all he can to keep Terrace baseball vibrant and flourishing.
“I want to be able to bring alumni back and show the community that, hey, baseball is here to stay,” he said.
Sells begins formal practices for the 2020 Mountlake Terrace Hawks on March 2; the Hawks’ varsity baseball team plays its first game of the 2020 season on March 16 at Arlington.
— By Doug Petrowski