Effingham head baseball coach Chris Fleener will be leaving Effingham High School to take a teaching and head coaching position in at Fairfield High School

“At the end of the season when it came about, it just so happened [Fairfield’s] coach wasn’t coming back, I decided to take a look and see what it would be like and things lined up,” Fleener said. “We talked about it and made the decision. I loved it there.

“It could turn out to be a better fit. The way I looked at it was ‘would I regret if I stayed and wished I would’ve went.”

Fleener’s wife Amy is originally from Fairfield and still has family that still resides there.

“Originally, part of me was scared to leave,” Fleener said. “I decided to jump after the signs God blessed us with.

“The community and administration has been great to me and my wife and great to the program. In 20 years here, I’ve been around a lot of great people and will be leaving behind some great friends. But I won’t be too far away.”

Fleener had coached the Flaming Hearts for 20 seasons with the 2019 campaign being his most successful, helping lead the team to a sectional championship and an appearance in a super-sectional, something that hadn’t happened in 77 years for the program.

In his 20 seasons, Fleener accumulated a career record of 421-219 with a .657 winning percentage.

“We’ve had great teams but have gotten beat in the playoffs,” Fleener said. “Sometimes you need some luck to go your way, but sometimes it doesn’t work out that way.

“Our boys were very loyal, and that goes a long way. I’ve been getting ‘good luck’ texts from former players. You make a real impact on these people, and they have had a great impact on my life.”

While the next varsity head coach has not yet been named, Fleener knows the type of opportunity it really is, looking back to when he accepted the job for the 2000 season.

“It’s an opportunity for some young kid to come in and experience what I did and have the fun,” Fleener said. “It’s great.”

Effingham athletic director Dave Woltman is happy with what Fleener brought to the program over 20 seasons.

[Fleener] has had a tremendous impact on the program,” Woltman said. “He’s made our program notable and he’s brought great character and work ethic to it that I think can continue on. Chris and his family will be missed in the community.”

Unit 40 accepted Fleener’s resignation at Monday’s school board meeting.