TUPELO — Home is where the heart is. And former Tupelo High School graduate Dustin Romines is sure glad to be back home.

Romines was hired this summer to be the new head softball and girls basketball coach for the Lady Tigers. Romines spent last year as the head baseball coach at Calvin High School.

“I’m excited to be back,” Romines said during a visit with The Ada News on Wednesday. “I had a good year at Calvin and really enjoyed it there, but nothing beats coming home.”

Romines, a 2000 graduate of Tupelo, where he was a standout player in baseball and basketball, was an assistant to head baseball coach Clay Weller from 2006-09 and returned to his alma mater to help the Tigers in 2017 and 2018 before taking the Calvin job.

Romines guided the Bulldogs to a tournament championship last spring, a big step forward for the CHS baseball program.

“We made a lot of improvement. The kids there are second to none as far as attitude and work ethic,” he said. “It wasn’t an easy decision, believe it or not. It was hard to leave those boys. It just came down to being home.”

This will be Romines’ first time to be working with female athletes, but he said he’s going to treat them just like one of the guys.

“It’s going to be a little different, but during the first meeting I had with them, I told them I was going to coach them like boys,” he said.

“I told them my expectations are to work hard every day and try to get better every day. It’s going to be a learning experience for me as far as learning some of the different strategies in softball, but the fundamentals are basically the same,” Romines explained.

Both the Tupelo girls basketball and softball teams had their share of struggles last year. The Lady Tigers won just one basketball game, and the slowpitch softball team finished the season at 5-23 last spring.

“We have our work cut out for us. We have a lot of work to do, but we’re going to get after it,” Romines said.

Romines is happy to be reunited with a veteran coach like Weller.

“Clay and I have a good bond. If I have a question to ask, I can always go to him. He’s a good mentor,” he said. “You also have (Lance) Britt (a Calvin administrator) here, and he’s a former coach. I’m really close to both of those guys. I couldn’t ask for two better guys to lean on.”

Jeff Cali has been covering sports in the Ada area since the mid-90s. He graduated from Byng High School and earned a bachelor’s degree from East Central University.