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Shock, Anger & Questions Surround The Untimely Dismissal Of Jeff Sikes As Head Baseball Coach For Warner University

Lake Wales, Florida- A social media post set the Lake Wales community and beyond into a frenzy Tuesday morning. The post would be one of just many over the course of the day. The post was by Hannah Smith, the daughter of former Warner University Baseball Coach Jeff Sikes. Coach Sikes was recently inducted into the Polk County Sports Hall Of Fame for his 40 year’s coaching baseball at Warner University.

A press release later in the day by Warner University seemed to try and mitigate the shock, anger and frustration by alumni, friends and family. The University advised: “Warner University Athletics, with a profound sense of gratitude and admiration, announces that Coach Jeff Sikes is moving away from his position as Head Coach of Warner Baseball.”

Following is the public post by Hannah Smith, the daughter of Coach Jeff Sikes:

“For those of you who know my dad, knows he loves 3 things more than anything in this world: Jesus, Family, and coaching baseball. I mean so much that his grandkids even call him “Coach”.

It’s with a heavy heart to see him have to close that chapter of his life a little earlier than he had ever planned or desired.

I literally can’t imagine my upbringing without Warner Baseball as a part of our lives. We have met so many awesome people throughout his 40 years of coaching and for that our family will forever be grateful for his time there.”

Here is a collection of several other quotes from public Facebook posts:

“I am at a complete loss for words with the news of Jeff Sikes being removed from his Head Baseball Coach role at Warner University after 40 years of service. I came to Warner Southern College 26+ years ago as a 17 year old boy and left a man largely because of the influence of Coach Sikes. There has never been and never will be another that embodies and lives out the mission of Warner better than him. His priorities have always been God, Family, Baseball. 1000s of kids are better disciples, leaders, mentors, husbands and fathers because of Coach Sikes. He is forever on my Mount Rushmore of human beings and my heart is shattered today for him. I am proud to call him my Coach. My mentor. My friend. My brother in Christ! I love you Coach!” – Justin Turner

“Wake up, Warner! Something isn’t sitting right….

You can’t lead like Jeff Sikes has led for 40 years and then get fired at the drop of a hat. No one has to vouch for him because his character speaks for itself. If you wanted to “go in a different direction”, then great! Do that AFTER he’s allowed to retire the way he wants to. Give him the honor he’s due.” – Courtney Hall Cook

“I never once played ball for Coach, but I looked up to him and held him in the highest regard and still do. Even after all these years, he still remembers me and always had a cheerful greeting for me and my family.

Any one of us wish we could leave even an iota of the legacy Coach Sikes has.” – Michael Sanchez

“My” coach Sikes….. they do not realize just what they are loosing. You touched so many lives and the one’s that matter most will always remember “who” you truly are. I am saddened by this news and truth be told a whole lot broken hearted. However I remember you once telling me after me leaving WU that i was missed but always remember God has a better plan even when we don’t wee it now. So my friend I say to you GOD IS IN CONTROL HE HAS A BETTER PLAN. I love you very much coach….” – Tabatha Coleman-Meeks

“well…my Warner Southern diploma was just relocated from the top of my wall. Don’t know what went down, but Jeff Sikes means a lot more to me than anything Warner University will ever be able to provide.” – David Singletary

“Our household is disgusted with the way Warner leadership handled this. This man deserved an exit strategy, a banquet or a ceremony, and an award honoring and celebrating the way he spent his life coaching baseball and sowing Gospel seeds in his player’s lives. At the very least a conversation.
An absolute legend of a man of God, he made the difference in countless soul’s lives, discarded like yesterday’s trash.

The best parts of Warner are all gone now.
The slap in the face is that they booted him out, and then claimed on the website that he was “moving away from his position”. Feels so disingenuous and cowardly.” – Catie Martin

The Daily Ridge News reached out to Warner University, but no one was available to speak with us. We will update this article if they reach out to us with a comment. Here is the press release they sent out regarding the coaches time with school.

“Warner University Athletics, with a profound sense of gratitude and admiration, announces that Coach Jeff Sikes is moving away from his position as Head Coach of Warner Baseball.

    Coach Sikes’s remarkable journey at Warner has been marked by Christlike character, selfless service, and a profound impact on both students and the entire Warner community. His enduring influence serves as a shining example for all who have had the privilege of knowing him. Through his tireless dedication, Coach Sikes has laid a solid foundation for the future of our baseball program, and we remain forever indebted to him for his exceptional service. While his achievements on the field are impressive, it is the countless victories he has achieved in the lives of our students that truly matter. 

In recognition of Coach Sikes’s extraordinary legacy, we are proud to bestow upon him the title of “Coach Emeritus” this year. Additionally, later in the year, we will honor him further by naming the baseball field in his honor, a fitting tribute to a coach whose impact transcends the diamond.

Over the course of his tenure, Coach Sikes compiled an impressive record of 1,230 wins, 944 losses, and 4 ties. Coach Sikes, as the fifth head coach for the Royals, has completed an incredible 40 years at the helm of the Warner Royals baseball program. His remarkable feat makes him the longest-serving head coach in the Sun Conference and the sole individual who has been an integral part of every season in the conference’s storied history.

Under Coach Sikes’s guidance, his teams and student-athletes have earned numerous accolades. The Royals have made 13 appearances in the NAIA Regional or Opening Round and five appearances in the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) World Series. Furthermore, 14 former student-athletes have gone on to play professional baseball in the MLB, while more than 50 have advanced to become high school, college, or professional coaches.

Coach Sikes’s impressive coaching career has been punctuated by prestigious awards, including NAIA Conference and Regional Coach of the Year honors. In 2001, he was named the Florida Diamond Club Coach of the Year, a testament to his unparalleled dedication to the sport. He was also inducted into the Charter Class Sports Hall of Fame at Warner University in 2013. Most recently, in 2023, Coach Sikes received the distinct honor of being inducted into the Polk County Hall of Fame.

Warner University Athletics extends its heartfelt gratitude to Coach Jeff Sikes for his profound and lasting influence on our entire community. His legacy will continue to resonate for years to come, serving as an enduring source of inspiration and Royal pride. We look forward to celebrating his legacy and achievements in the spring and beyond, ensuring that Coach Sikes’s impact will forever remain an integral part of Warner’s rich history.” – Warner University Press Release

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Carl Fish

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