Legends On Deck

Building the Program with Coach Eric Lassiter

Central Florida has one of the most competitive environments for amateur baseball anywhere in the country.  Eric Lassiter has been thriving in that arena for over fifteen years.  He is currently Head Coach of the Windermere (High School) Wolverines and Co-Founder of Power BaseballHe’s been dedicated to coaching the game and helping players continue their careers at the collegiate or professional level.  Legends on Deck caught up with Coach Lassiter and asked him about his background in the game and work as a high school and travel ball coach.

Central Florida Roots

BK:  Tell me a little about your background in baseball.  What are some of your earliest baseball memories and how you developed a passion for the game?  Where did you grow up and where did you play ball?  What made you decide to dedicate yourself to baseball the way you are today?  

EL:  I started playing baseball at the age of four.  Two of my coaches at the earliest of ages were Frank Viola and Sal Butera, so needless to say not  many kids at our age were being coached by World Series champions.  I grew up in Apopka (FL).  As a youngster I played at West Seminole Pony baseball in Altamonte Springs and I went to Apopka High School.  There I played for Sonny Wise, who was one of the winningest coaches in Central Florida history.   I learned a lot from him and he played a big role in me becoming a coach. From there I went and was a four year starter at Davis & Elkins College, a Division II school in WV.  My coach there was Ryan Brisbin.

After my senior year I was offered an opportunity to coach at West Virginia Wesleyan College under Coach Randy Tenney.  That’s where I started my coaching career.  It’s also where I really fell in love with coaching and recruiting; everything about the game.  I knew this is what i was supposed to be doing.  I mention all these coaches, because they’ve served as mentors to me.  I’ve taken things that I have learned and loved from all of them and tried to create my own unique style. 

Seizing Opportunity

BK:  You left behind a successful baseball program at Apopka High School to start a new program at Windermere in 2017.  What considerations went into that decision and why was starting a new program so appealing to you?

EL:   It was a great opportunity to coach at my alma mater.  Anyone knows who went to Apopka High School knows it is a special school and community and I will always bleed blue. But, Apopka Baseball will always be Sonny Wise’s program and nothing can take that away (and for good reason). I felt the in my years coaching at Apopka, we were able to bring it back that winning tradition.  I’m proud of that.  When I was given an opportunity to start a new program from scratch, in an area known for baseball talent,  I could not pass it up.  We’ve been able to start our own traditions and build our own legacy, which has been exciting.  

Building New Traditions

BK:  The Windermere Wolverines baseball has experienced incredible success for such a young program.  Give us some of the highlights of the program’s achievements over the past few seasons.  What are some of the factors that you think have allowed you to be so successful in such a short period of time? 

EL:   First, Windermere High School has a great administration that see the importance of athletics for young men and women.   We’ve also been fortunate to have great players that were brought into our system our style from the very start.  Our first season, we had no seniors and only three players with varsity experience, so we needed buy in and to find some guys who could be leaders.

We have been to two Elite 8’s in our short existence, which is pretty cool. Our first was in 2018 when we had a ton of talent on the roster.  We had both Bryce Hubbart and Carson Montgomery, who were pitching on weekends for Florida State this year.  It’s extremely rare (and cool) to be able to have sent two top tier starters to one of our state’s elite programs.  

This past season was our second Elite 8 appearance.   Our season was highlighted by some major individual accomplishments.   Gustavo Mendez broke our school’s single, Home Run and RBI record (season and career).  Blake Cyr broke our single season and career stolen base records. Our pitching staff, under Brian Adkins, has always been elite.  But we’ve been just good enough to get by on offense.  We were fortunate enough to bring on Ray Evans, who was formerly the Head Coach at Dr Phillips to be our hitting coach.   Ray won multiple state championships and a national title at Flanigan High School (Pembroke Pines).   He’s helped our offense make tremendous strides. 

The Power Baseball Program

BK: You are a co-founder of Power Baseball, a competitive travel league program that prepares players for the next level.  Your website clearly lays out what benefits and opportunities are available for players.  There’s also a long list of your players who have made commitments to play college baseball.  What age group is Power Baseball targeted at and what kind of players are you looking for?   Additionally, what makes Power Baseball different from other travel baseball programs out there?

EL:  Power Baseball is for all high school aged players.  One of my partners in Power, Jesse Marlo, also has team in Orlando for younger age groups. At Power Baseball we are looking for players of all skill sets, with the ability to play some level of college baseball. We like to say we do “more for most,” meaning a lot of programs who do what we do simply promote or work for their elite guys.  Our network is large, it goes from top Power 5 programs to Division 3 schools.  We provide the same work for those players who fit in Division 2 schools in the northeast as we do for those who get to pick what Power 5 school they want to attend. 

A Bright Future

BK:  The 2022 season was a landmark year for you.  First, you earned your 200th win as a high school head coach.  Then, you received the Metro West Coach of the Year and Florida Athletic Association District 11 7A Coach of the Year awards.  What’s next for you in terms of  your Windermere Wolverines program and your work with Power Baseball?

EL:  As far as Windermere goes we have a very young team.  We lost only five seniors and this returning group had a Final 4 opportunity slip through their fingers. It’s a great group and they will be hungry to get better and achieve more next season. We’ve got a bright future ahead.

In terms of Power Baseball, we are now on the go, traveling with my 2024 Marucci team.  We just got back from USA Baseball East Championship.  Then we are off to Palm Beach for a prospect select tournament.   Then, it’s Atlanta for one of the biggest recruitment tournaments in the country.  Our other ages groups are headed to Fort Myers and Atlanta as well. Summer and fall are the two seasons for travel ball and are both equally important as our numbers have shown a lot of commitments during both of those time periods.  

Celebrating win #200 (West Orange Times)

The Lassiter Legacy

Coach Eric Lassiter has accomplished a great deal in the game of baseball.  His passion for his work, coaching players to reach their full potential, is inspiring.  Windermere’s young program is blossoming into one of the top baseball schools in the state.  And Power Baseball has produced a long list of players following their dreams to play ball at a higher level.  It’s because of the work by committed baseball men like Coach Lassiter that Central Florida produces some of the best baseball talent anywhere in America.

Brian is a Senior Editor at Legends on Deck. He's been writing about baseball for LOD since 2017 and is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association.

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