ASHEBORO — In the end, Asheboro ZooKeepers’ head coach Korey Dunbar said the decision was a no-brainer.
The ZooKeepers’ field general, who will return for the 2024 summer Coastal Plain League season, has added General Manager duties to his resume. Dunbar recently accepted the GM title and is now working with the team on a daily basis.
The team, which is owned by Ronnie, Doug, Steve and Mike Pugh, was 20-24 last summer, but 12-11 in the second half of the season, one of only two teams in the West Division to be over the .500 mark.
Dunbar said he was approached around Thanksgiving, met with the Pughs and after discussions with his wife, accepted the position. He has been on the job for just a few weeks.
“I took Thanksgiving week to think it over, talked it over with my wife, but in the end, it was really a no-brainer,” said Dunbar, who starred at the University of North Carolina and was drafted twice. “Asheboro is such a tight-knit community and so many people are willing to help.”
Dunbar, who will remain in Garner, takes over for Melissa Godwin, who is still heavily involved with the team, but returned to teaching prior to the start of last season.
Dunbar is adjusting to all the “behind the scene” duties with his new position.
“There are so many backend things that you don’t think about as a player,” Dunbar said. “Backend things that go into a coaching position and now GM role.”
Dunbar is originally from West Virginia, where he was the 2012 Gatorade High School Player of the Year and was drafted in the 39th round by the Los Angeles Dodgers. He instead attended UNC, where he was the starting catcher for the Tar Heels.
In 2015, he was drafted again in the 20th round by the Miami Marlins and has also served as an Associate Scout for the St. Louis Cardinals.
“We're really super jacked up about it and he in turn was as well,” Doug Pugh said. “Aside from baseball knowledge and experience, he has a good strong work ethic. He has a good sense of what needs to be done.”
The ZooKeepers recently moved into an office right across the street from McCrary Park.
“I don’t know of a better place,” Dunbar said. “It’s such a good setup for everyone involved. From a staffing standpoint to a front office standpoint, it’s getting better and better.”
Dunbar, who also worked for Barton College and with a youth baseball organization in the Raleigh area, said the roster for the 2024 ZooKeepers is complete and he’s looking forward to his second season at the helm.