Mark Low didn’t plan to arrive in Ponder back in 1997. Low, who was coaching at Wellington at the time, was driving up to the Fort Worth area to interview for a job when he saw there was an opening at a small school nearby.
Low decided to interview at Ponder and was hired as an assistant baseball coach, and it didn’t take long for him to realize it was a place he could see himself staying for a long time. After spending a year coaching under Steve Guffey, Low became the Lions’ head baseball coach and never looked back.
But Low’s coaching career, spanning a total of 24 years — 22 at Ponder — is coming to an end, as he has made the decision to step away from coaching duties.
“There’s never really a right time, but it felt like this was the time for me to move on,” Low said. “The program is in good shape. There are some good kids coming and the facilities are good, too. It will be an opening that attracts some high-quality applicants.”
Low will continue to teach sixth-grade science at Ponder next year but will no longer be a part of the baseball staff. The Lions experienced a great deal of success in his time leading the program, including state tournament appearances in 2004 and 2009.
Ponder fell to Nacogdoches Central Heights 4-1 in the 2004 Class 2A final and lost to Danbury, the eventual state champion, 8-2 in the 2009 semifinals.
Despite embarking on several long playoff runs, Low — who never kept track of his career record — said some of his fondest memories are of teams that didn’t advance to the postseason.
Ponder athletic director Bill Savell spoke highly of Low and his dedication to the baseball program.
“Anybody who looks at the back of the press box can see his legacy,” Savell said. “He came here when it was a little school and stayed with it as it grew. He was a great baseball guy — whoever gets the job has some big shoes to fill.”
Ponder is accepting applications for the head baseball position, which will also have assistant football duties. The job was posted on the Texas High School Coaches Association website May 21, and Savell said the goal is to have a final candidate in place in time for the June school board meeting.
“The main thing we’re looking for is a teacher of the game who can relate to kids, set high expectations and develop players,” Savell said. “I think it’s a real attractive job, and I think we’ll have some interest from some guys who have been assistants at some big schools as well as guys who have had success at some smaller schools.”