The Forest City Owls are happy to announce DJ Russ as their head coach for the 2024 season beginning May 23. DJ replaces Connor Dailey who was unable to continue as Owls coach due to his full time responsibilities at Southern Illinois University. “After an extensive search, DJ wound up being the choice to take The Owls into 2024 and beyond. We will all miss Connor’s leadership, and we thank him for all he has meant to the Owls. He left us in terrific shape roster-wise for the upcoming season,” Owner Phil Dangel stated. DJ Russ is no rookie when it comes to CPL Coaching. Currently the Assistant Coach at the University of Mt. Olive, Russ has been the Director of Baseball Operations at High Point University, and in 2022 season was the Head Coach of The Highpoint- Thomasville HiToms, leading them to the CPL playoffs. Previous to that, Russ was a coach for the CPL Morehead City Marlins. “Everyone I spoke to gave DJ high marks on his ability to communicate with the players, his desire to win, and his likeability. He is all about community and I feel confident that we will not miss a beat with this change. He is a perfect fit, In Fact, Coach Daley was the first to recommend DJ.” continued Dangel, Russ is a 2014 graduate of Emory and Henry University with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Spanish. Upon being announced as Coach, Russ stated,” I am excited and challenged by the opportunity to lead the Owls. In this All-Star year my focus will be on one thing and that is bringing The Petit Cup, The CPL Championship, back to Forest City.”
DJ’s job will be aided by the return of at least 14 returning players. “This is by far the most veteran group we have ever had in Forest City. The players love playing here, and although they will miss Connor, we are confident that they will enjoy playing for DJ.” said Director of Owls Baseball Stephanie Blatnicky. “These young men love Forest City, enjoy their host families, and have a great summer. We intend to win it all this summer.” Returning to the Owls are five CPL All-Stars, Dylan Koontz from Campbell, Brady Jeffcoat from Western Carolina, Jerry Garcia from University of Tennessee, David Sessoms from Wingate University and Drew Lanphere from NC State. “Rarely does one All-Star return, let alone four. We are excited and anxious to get going, “added Blatnicky.
As always, The Owls are in need of many things to get the season underway. First, and foremost, , The Owls need host families and places for the players to stay. They are also looking for homes to rent to house players. All interested please contact Stephanie or Sabrina at 828-245-0000. Season tickets, ALL-STAR tickets, as well as All You Can Eat tickets are on sale at The Owls office daily at 138 E. Main St. Tickets are also available on our website under our ticket category or by calling our store front.