The first time he ran a high school baseball team, Dave Jordan's mission was to take a fledgling program and build it into a winner.
Jordan's next job may be just as difficult, if not more so — taking a well-established program that is already a winner to the ultimate in high school baseball: a state championship.
Jordan was named varsity baseball coach at Lewiston late last month, taking over for Todd Cifelli, who resigned at the end of last summer.
The former Poland head coach served as an assistant coach at Lewiston last spring and has also been an assistant on Lewiston's championship-winning American Legion teams.
In four years at Poland (2005-08), Jordan compiled a 55-17 record. The Knights won the Western Maine Conference regular season title in 2007 and reached the Western Maine Class B finals in 2005 and 2007 (while also winning sportsmanship awards both years).
Jordan was the National High School Baseball Coaches Coach of the Year for District I (New England and New York) in 2007. He then joined Edwin Thompson's coaching staff at Bates College for a three-year stint as a batting and fielding instructor. In 2010, the Bobcats batted .354 as a team and committed the fewest errors in the nation in Division III while winning a school-record 25 games.
Jordan was a member of Cifelli's Gayton Post coaching staff when it won back-to-back state American Legion titles and continued in that role when essentially the same team reached the state final in 2012 as Pastime Club. He said his four years coaching with Cifelli "made me realize that coaching high school baseball and building a baseball program within a community is where I want to be."
"I've always enjoyed the process of helping young athletes improve their game," Jordan said. "I've had some great opportunities coaching the past number of years at the high school, college and Legion levels. I believe that those experiences have been very valuable and will help me guide players in their goal-setting athletically and academically."
Lewiston is the two-time defending Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference champion and two years removed from an appearance in the Class A state championship game, which it lost to Cheverus. The Blue Devils returned to the Eastern A championship game in 2012 and lost to eventual state champion Messalonskee.
Much of the core of that team graduated, but Jordan believes the depth of the program will allow him to continue the Blue Devils' recent run of success.
"They've graduated a couple of special classes, but I think there's as much potential coming up through," he said. "I think there are a lot of players in the system that have kind of waited their turn and they're excited about getting out there and showing people what they can do."
Jordan has a lot in common with Cifelli philosophically, playing an aggressive style that puts pressure on opposing teams to make plays while expecting his own players to limit their mistakes.
"Our strategy will be to win the free base war in regards to walks and errors," Jordan said. "We'll look to make our opponents earn their runs. Our players will look to put pressure on the base paths and do what we can to score runs."