It didn’t take long for Lake Dallas to find its new baseball coach.
Less than a week after former coach Ryan Howard took a job at Coppell, the Falcons found their new skipper in Colleyville Heritage assistant Chris Haney. Lake Dallas athletic director Scott Head confirmed the hire Monday morning.
“It happened really quick,” Haney said. “After the interview process, getting to sit down with Scott and coach [Michael] Young, I felt really confident with the support of the community. My wife and I were extremely happy to stay in DFW and do what we’ve been planning for the past five or six years. We wanted to get somewhere where baseball and athletics have a culture in the town, and we definitely think we landed on that here.”
A former San Diego Padres minor league pitching prospect, Haney was selected in the 20th round of the 2011 MLB draft. He spent two years in San Diego’s farm system, rising all the way to AAA Tucson before injuring the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow.
But Haney opted against Tommy John surgery to repair the ligament, effectively ending his playing career. In two seasons at the minor league level, he compiled a 6.08 ERA in 71 innings.
“I didn’t want to go through the year of rehab,” Haney said. “I took six months off and it was coming back, but my arm didn’t feel the same. It got to that point where I looked at my age, talked to my parents and said, ‘I think there’s something else I want to do.’”
Haney elected to go into coaching, getting his start at Justin Northwest. He was the Texans’ assistant from 2013-16.
From 2016 up until this past spring, Haney was the top assistant at Colleyville Heritage. The Panthers posted a 39-3 record in 2019 and went on to win the Class 5A championship.
Heritage had seven Division I players in its lineup, highlighted by shortstop Bobby Witt Jr., who was drafted second overall by the Kansas City Royals.
“He’s coming in from a successful program,” Head said. “When we bring assistant coaches from other programs in, they’ve done really well for us. He knows what we’ve got coming up. He’s got some great ideas to change some culture stuff around here, implementing some of the things over at Colleyville Heritage that I liked and he ran. I think he’s going to be a great hire for us.”
Haney, now 30, inherits a Lake Dallas team coming off one of its most successful seasons in recent memory. The Falcons went 22-19 this past spring and made a run to the regional semifinal.
Lake Dallas graduated District 8-5A Pitcher of the Year Ryan Depperschmidt, but returns 8-5A first-team selection Ben Price. Connor Perry, the Falcons’ designated hitter, will also be back after being named to the Denton Record-Chronicle’s 2019 all-area second team.
“I was fortunate enough to get to watch Lake Dallas for three games in their run last year, and I was really impressed,” Haney said. “Obviously, Ryan [Howard] did a great job of getting them to play hard. I think that’s the type of kid you get in this area of DFW. If you have a way to motivate them, I think you have the opportunity to go really far like they did.”