One of the great pleasures I have had at Rangeview is coaching baseball. There will be many stories later about our baseball escapades. The colleague that I am thankful for is our head coach Mike Hamilton. Our field for the lower levels were separate from the varsity and JV field and we liked it that way. Mike trusted us to teach the game and keep quality kids in the program. Mike always supported the lower levels. He allowed us to keep 4 teams even when many other programs were reducing to three or even just 2. We always struggled getting games for the 4th team but we always seemed to have ten to twelve games a year. On our field the joy never left the game. In all too many programs there doesn’t seem to be the joy there should be. Baseball is a thinking game and a game to be revered. We walk in the shadows of every kid who picked up a glove and ball. Mike has the same reverence for the game. The coaches he assembled were all students of the game and tried to share that with the kids. We always had camps for young people and worked with a Sertoma club to hold a camp for kids who are deaf or hard of hearing. The camp was one of the highlights of summer with our players contributing to the community. Mike is a genuinely good person that I have always looked to for advice and counsel for things way beyond the diamond. Rangeview has had a history of special people as baseball coaches and Mike is one of the best.
I am not Catholic but I coach baseball at a Catholic high school. I have discovered many traditions that I like from the athletes and the school but there is one that I have shared with them. Vespers is traditional nightly prayers or devotions around sunset. I have always had a form of vespers in coaching. It is the evening field clean up and preparation. It is this time that often most frantic and players and coaches are scrambling to get things put up and away. For the longest time, I was like most coaches and got things picked up and put up in preparation for the next day. In the last 10 years, I have discovered a new completion to practice.
As the basic cleanup comes to a close I jump on the tractor and begin to drag the field. I have come to the conclusion that this is the best part of the day and it represents closure to the day in a spiritual way. I take time to take all of the roughed up infield and with a simple tool I make it smooth and prepare it for the next day. This is a great metaphor for what I do while dragging the field. I relax and evaluate the day and practice. I calm down from anything that may have roughed up the day and make it smooth. I also prepare for the next day and practice with all of the knowledge from today which sets the agenda for tomorrow.
My players over the years have asked why I do the dragging myself and I have to admit that it is for selfish reasons. When I am finished I bring to a close today and tuck everything away and hope to learn from today for tomorrow. I reflect on the good and the bad and sort things out. I transition from baseball coach back into teacher, husband, father, and friend during this time. I cherish my nightly vespers and I have sympathy for anyone that doesn’t have an opportunity like this