Jun. 25—If you would have said Monday that he would be the next baseball coach at Branson, Kirk Harryman would be the first to laugh.
"Here we are laughing about it," Harryman said.
The Joplin baseball icon was hired as the new coach at Branson, the school announced on Friday. He replaces Troy Nimmo, who resigned from his position earlier this spring.
Harryman is currently working as an assistant principal at Joplin.
"There's something about baseball," Harryman said "It's something that I have always loved. The thing that made this more difficult than anything is I love the job I do have. I enjoy being a principal at Joplin High School. I have been with Joplin Schools for 24 years. Joplin has been really good to me. The people make it hard to leave, but the opportunity that was there to get back on the field and coach high school baseball was great."
Harryman said he's excited about his next chapter and is looking forward to getting started at Branson.
"My wife and I have always loved the area," he added. "We have talked about someday maybe even going there and retiring. It has been a whirlwind of a week. It all happened in about 72 hours. I'm looking forward to it. I'm excited to be a part of Branson schools. I would like to thank (athletics director) (David) Large, Dr. (Jack) Harris and the rest of Branson High School for giving me this opportunity."
Harryman spent 17 seasons leading the Joplin baseball program, highlighted by a state championship in 2001 and a runner-up finish just two years later. His teams amassed a record of six conference championships, six district championships and reached the state quarterfinals four times with three appearances in the state semifinals.
"We are excited to add Coach Harryman to our staff," Large said in a release. "His coaching achievements speak to his longtime dedication to high school athletes and their success."
Joplin retired the long-time coach's jersey prior to the season-opening doubleheader against Hollister on March 18, 2017.
Harryman didn't give up coaching completely when stepped down as the Eagles' baseball and softball coach in 2016. He started coaching again a couple summers with 417 Baseball and the Midwest Nationals.
"The Hartley's got me back in," Harryman said. "417 and the 'Nats combined allowed me to keep coaching. My years at Joplin have been outstanding. I got to be the head coach at Joplin for 17 years. Not a lot of people get to do that. The longevity that we had and the success we had ... I know that was a very special thing. It speaks a lot to the relationships I have built with the staff, admin and the kids I coached.
"I'm going to miss all that, and I will root for the Eagles all the time except one day a year."
The one day out of the year might be interesting, Harryman said, now that he's on the other side against Joplin.
"Baseball is going to be baseball," Harryman said. "The only difference will be the names on the jerseys. This all has happened so fast, so I haven't really sat down and thought about what it will be like to face Joplin."
Harryman, a former submarine pitcher at Missouri Southern, earned his bachelor's degree in Kinesiology. He earned his master's in Educational Administration from William Woods University along with a specialist degree in Administration.
Harryman will teach physical education at Branson. He and his wife Deborah have two college age sons, Tyler and Josh.