Cade and Aaron Willard

Aaron Willard, right, has announced he is stepping away as Eastside’s baseball coach after six years. He coached various Blazer teams to great success in 35 seasons, including baseball, softball and boys basketball. Cade Willard, left, who was an assistant baseball coach this season, will take over the baseball program.

BUTLER — After a coaching career that has spanned 35 seasons across three sports and all kinds of championships, Aaron Willard is stepping away.

He made the announcement Tuesday at the baseball team’s awards program. Willard said later he will remain as Eastside’s athletic director, however.

The Eastside baseball team’s win over Fairfield in the Class 2A regional this season was the 700th of his high school coaching career.

“I’ve done it for a while between softball and baseball,” Willard said in a phone interview. “I guess I just want some flexibility to do some other things at this point.

“One of the main reasons is to watch (son) Owen a little more than we did (older son) Cade,” Willard said. “It takes a lot of time. With Owen playing in college, there’s a lot of conflicts.”

Owen will play baseball at Purdue University Fort Wayne.

“It’s been a fun ride,” Aaron Willard said. “I’ve been blessed over the years with great assistant coaches, great players and really good parents. I just think it’s time for me right now. I haven’t had a spring for 30-some years.

“I’m just trying to simplify my life a little bit,” he continued. “With athletics, it’s never really simple, but (stepping away from coaching) takes one thing out of the equation.”

While the announcement means Aaron Willard will no longer be patrolling the third base coaching box or dugout, there will still be a Willard presence at Eastside’s Michael D. Fiedler Field as oldest son Cade, 23, has been named as head baseball coach.

Cade Willard was varsity assistant coach this season and teaches at the high school. “I asked him if he’d have an interest in it, and he definitely did. I think it will make for an easier transition for our guys,” his father said. “I’m sure there will be things he’ll do a little different.

“(Cade’s) been around some pretty good coaches at the college level and in travel ball,” he continued. “He’s ready and he’s got a great baseball mind. He’s excited.”

In six seasons with Aaron Willard as baseball coach, the Blazers were 125-42, winning four sectional championships, three Northeast Corner Conference tournament titles and either sole or shared NECC season titles three times. Last year, Eastside won sectional, regional and semi-state championships, finishing as state runners-up in Class 2A.

As boys basketball coach, the Blazers were 69-64 in his six seasons, winning a sectional crown in the 1992-1993 season, Willard’s first. That snapped a 27-year title drought in the program.

Willard’s greatest success came between the chalk lines with Eastside’s softball program. He had a 506-174 record in 23 seasons, winning 13 sectional, six regional, one semi-state and one state championship. The Blazers captured 12 NECC tournament titles and won or shared the league championship on 13 occasions.

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