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Longtime Baseball Coach Announces Retirement

Longtime Ozark Baseball Coach Announces Retirement

The Ozark Board of Education accepted the retirement of longtime baseball coach Mike Essick on Tuesday, May 12. Essick joined Ozark School District as a teacher and coach in 1993.

With an overall record of 465-223, Essick led the Tigers to state championships in 2004 and 2008; third in 2002; and fourth in 2011.

“Coach Essick helped set the standard for baseball in southwest Missouri over the last 26 years,” said Ozark High School Athletics and Activities Director Yancey Little. “Coach Essick has a lineage of players and assistant coaches who have become very successful within the sport of baseball and his college signees are too numerous to count.”

Essick has received numerous awards through the years, including induction into the College of the Ozarks Sports Hall of Fame in 2003, two Coach of the Year honors in 2004, induction into the Missouri High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2014 and induction into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2019.

Ozark alumnus Justin Sundlie will replace Essick for the 2020-21 school year. Sundlie began his coaching career in 2006 with Lubbock Christian University in Texas and became a physical education teacher and baseball coach in 2008 in Friona, Texas. Since that time, he has gained experience with high school and college baseball programs in Texas and joined Spokane School District in 2019.

“Sundlie is an Ozark alumni who understands the tradition of Ozark athletics,” Little said. “His successes as a multisport athlete in high school, a college baseball player and a high school/college coach have prepared him to expand the winning tradition of the Ozark baseball program.”

“It’s great to be back in Ozark,” said Sundlie. “I’m very grateful and excited for the opportunity to be a part of Ozark’s strong tradition of academics and athletics.”