For most people living in the Washington D.C area, Denton, Maryland is best known as a point of reference on the way to the Eastern Shore or the beaches in Delaware and Maryland. For 3rd year Wootton High School varsity baseball coach John David (J.D.) Marchand, it is home, and where he got his start.
Marchand’s parents were both teachers in the Kent County area, his father a professor at Chesapeake College and his mother a French teacher, and while helping both out as a teenager Marchand quickly found his calling. “I watched my mom and dad and helped out in high school, so it was an easy decision to make,” said Marchand as we relaxed in the Wootton dugout, while he kept a close eye on his team’s pratice.
Marchand played football and baseball at Kent County high school, and went off to Virginia Tech after a semester at Chesapeake College (“after all, my father was a professor there so it was free”) hoping to walk on to the baseball team. While walking on did not work out, Marchand graduated, and went back to Kent County high to teach 9th-12th grade math. As a bonus, Marchand landed a position as the junior varsity baseball coach, starting him on his way in the coaching ranks.
However, having spent virtually his entire life to that point in and around Kent County, Marchand decided a change of scene might be in order. Through a collegiate friend who attended Wootton high school in Rockville, Marchand started looking into the Montgomery County area, eventually receiving an offer to teach math at Wootton. Marchand jumped at the chance, and found himself at Wootton for the fall 2000 semester.
Shortly after arriving at the school, yet another friend helped out as Marchand sought out Rhett Ross, the varsity baseball coach. Marchand expressed an interest in helping out, so Ross spoke with then-JV coach Joe Cassidy , and Marchand starting working on the JV with Cassidy. The chemistry and friendship between Cassidy and Marchand was immediate, and the two remain close to this day. In 2003 Cassidy took over the varsity and Marchand took over the junior varsity full time.
“I learned a ton on the junior varsity, both from Joe and Rhett,” said Marchand. “I was fortunate enough to learn how to run practices, what the practice schemes at Wootton were, and also coaching philosophy from both men.” Marchand learned very well as his junior varsity record will attest. Serving as the junior varsity coach from 2003-2007, Marchand’s teams did not lose 10 games cumulatively, and went undefeated in the 2007 season. “The talent level every year was very, very good,” he said with modesty. All true, but sometimes coaching talent is just as difficult as managing teams with less talent. Wins are wins, and Marchand had a lot of them.
In 2007 Cassidy moved on to Whitman high school, and Marchand was the logical choice to take over the program on a full time basis. “I have not changed very much. I still run pretty much the same practices, and we have an aggressive style that is the same as always.” At the same time, Marchand acknowledges being the head of the varsity is a lot different than that of the JV or as an assistant. “(Coaching) takes up lots more time, with a lot more responsibility. The whole program is under your control, and you are in charge of everyone, including the junior varsity players and coaches.”
Indeed, the new requirements on his time on the field (and off the field with the birth of his second child) prompted Marchand to end his nine-year involvement with the football program at Wootton. But the baseball responsibility and time commitment come with a payoff: “I love it; this is what I always wanted to do. It’s a dream come true.”
The Wootton program, always one of the strongest in the county, hasn’t missed a beat with Marchand at the helm. They made the regional semi-finals in Marchand’s first year, and completed back-to-back strong regular seasons in 2008-2009. However the ending to last year’s 13-5 season was unsatisfying, and has become a rallying cry for his team this year. “We lost to Churchill in the first round last year, and our big motivation this year stems from that end of season loss last year.” Marchand is excited about the upcoming season, feeling like he has a good pitching staff with a lot of arms. “We have Max Simon who has a great arm, Mark Brown and Pete Spiropolous, all good pitchers. Offensively, Alex Kelly and Simon are strong, along with Alex Hindman. The 4A is wide open this year with a lot of strong teams; anybody can win this division,” he added.
Whatever the season brings, you will find Marchand in the middle of it all with his team. “I’ve become more vocal, more of a leader since Joe (Cassidy) left,’ Marchand reflected. “I got a chance to speak a little bit more for myself.” It is clearly a leadership role that Marchand enjoys, and his team, the athletic administration, and even the math department at Wootton is glad he decided to come over from the Eastern Shore.