FAIRFIELD — Lance Durham battled with the idea of becoming Fairfield High School’s baseball coach.
Then it finally hit him.
“Just thinking back, this was going to be easier on my family, and I’ll be right by the house,” Durham said. “The setup at Fairfield — it’s awesome. They’re in a good conference. Baseball is something that they can call their own. With the clubhouse and the field that’s kind of secluded — it’s really an awesome vibe that I like.”
That was enough conviction to convince Durham to want to lead the Indians’ baseball program this coming spring. He was announced Wednesday afternoon as Fairfield’s next head coach, pending school board approval Nov. 16.
Durham, 35, is a 2006 Roger Bacon graduate, former University of Cincinnati standout and son of Leon Durham who played 12 seasons in the majors. He was head coach at Kings from 2022 to 2023, the Fairfield hitting coach from 2019 to 2021 and the head coach at Purcell Marian in 2016.
Durham will take over for Tommy Begley, who coached Fairfield to a 96-71 record the last seven seasons before recently resigning in order to spend more time with family.
“This is definitely an exciting day for our athletic department,” Fairfield athletic director Aaron Blankenship said. “While it’s bittersweet that Coach Begley takes some steps back from coaching, we completely respect and support him in taking some time to be with his family. We think it’s important for him to continue to support his kids as they get more involved with youth sports. I’m excited to see him in a different capacity. He will now be able to help out with his kids’ teams and make sure he’s at his kids’ games and be a great dad. We’re always big believers in supporting that in anyway possible even if it is something as bittersweet as him stepping away from coaching to be able to do that.
“As one chapter ends, another one begins,” Blankenship added. “We’re excited for Lance Durham to take the helm of leading our Fairfield baseball team. We think Lance is a perfect fit. One of the hardest things as an athletic director is finding someone who is a perfect fit for your values and what you’re looking for in a coach within the athletic department. I’m just so happy to say that Lance fits that mold of so many coaches that have been successful here within this athletic department recently and with our rich history.
“We’re excited for him, and our families and our community will fall in love with him. … We’re just so excited for him to be here. He leaves Kings in a great spot and had some success there. We’re just so excited to see the success that he will have here at Fairfield.”
Durham compiled a 37-20 overall record and had 18 or more victories each season during his two years at Kings — including an Eastern Cincinnati Conference title in 2022.
“I was really happy at Kings. They’re super great people out there,” Durham said. “Eric Taylor, the athletic director — just first class. But Fairfield is right down the road from my house. This is an easy decision. Great conference, close to the house, good facilities, another good athletic director — all of that to be back here is kind of a no-brainer. No-brainer, but super tough decision.”
Durham said he was surprised by Begley’s announcement. The two are good friends and Durham was Begley’s former hitting coach.
“When Begley resigned, I thought he was going to coach for the next one or two years and then kind of step into that dad-coach role for his boys,” Durham said. “But I guess that came a little bit quicker for him. Once that kind of happened, things moved quickly.
“I think Tommy kind of gave Aaron (Blankenship) my name and reference, and that was kind of the process of me getting here.”
Durham said the interest in wanting to lead a baseball program, outside of his one season at Purcell’s helm, stemmed from helping coach with Begley.
“Any assistant coach thinks that they’re the head coach at times,” Durham said. “One of the reasons I pursued the Kings job is because I loved coaching with Begley, and it made me want to call something my own. All of that made the decision easier to want to come back to Fairfield. There’s a familiarity with the program that I have. I also know that if I have any questions, Tommy will be an open book for me. His success at Fairfield is something that I’ll always want to mirror.”
Durham, of Forest Park, said his main priority as he enters his first season at the Indians’ helm is for the program to remain in its competitive state.
“I ultimately want to make this a place where opponents hate coming to. I want to make this a team that everybody in the city doesn’t want to play because of what we’re capable of. I want to invest in the kids and get them to the next level and form boys into men.”