As I sit here just a few days after the heartbreak of finishing the season shy of our goal, I am still at a loss for words. Saying goodbye is the hardest part, and honestly, one of the reasons I had to walk away from coaching eight years ago.
As a coach, you always wonder what you could have done to extend the season, even if for just one more game, and there are things I’d do differently. The end hurts, in ways only coaches can understand, but this Torrington Tigers team was a blast to be around.
As I sat in the stands with my 6-year-old son and watched the 2018 state championships, the decision to get back into coaching became clear. My son had fallen deeply in love with the game. We watched baseball, every day. He sat in our living room, studying games, watching every move his favorite players would make – notably Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story and Charlie Blackmon. As his teachers at Lincoln Elementary would attest, he even wore a baseball uniform to school, nearly every day, for an entire school year.
So, in 2019, I jumped back in.
However, I wasn’t prepared for what was in store these past two summers.
This group of Tigers were different. They reminded me of my playing days with the Tigers and the pure desire to be on the field, as much as possible. They were, in basketball terms, gym rats.
These men made a run at the state tournament in 2019 and ended up third. It left them hungry, and with something to prove. 2020 was the year, it was going to be the year of the Tiger.
We wanted to bring a state championship back to Torrington. Man, we wanted it so bad. There were moments this summer that left me in awe of what these men (they aren’t boys any longer) could do on the baseball field, and moments that left me wondering how I could have failed them this poorly.
We weren’t perfect. We battled through arguments, misunderstandings, bad calls, good calls, base running blunders, and even a small fight. We learned, a lot, along the way, and we walked off the field one final time, together, knowing we did everything we could.
I’ve received numerous text messages and notes from coaches around the state telling me how well these men represented Torrington and how far they’ve come in the past three seasons. Wins and losses often dictate how well a season goes. I’m not any different than other coaches. I want to win, but it’s these texts and comments that mean the most to me.
Addressing these men and saying the right things immediately after a loss, especially when a season ends, is never easy and many things go unsaid. Some things don’t need to be said, and some things are meant to be said in private.
But, to this Tigers family: Hold your heads up high. Be proud of what you accomplished the past two seasons and take the memories with you. You forged a bond of brotherhood with each other, and nobody can take that away from you. You did it with integrity and respect for the game of baseball, and I am beyond proud of you.
Most importantly, THANK YOU.
Seniors, thank you for keeping baseball alive in Torrington. Thank you for doing it the right way. Thank you for representing Torrington with class and integrity. Thank you for allowing me to join you on this journey and, thank you for being role models for my son. You’ve given us two summers we will never forget. Patrick has new favorite players – Sam, Cameron, Jackson, Caeden, Gage, Blake, Tristan, Nick, Deagan, Gabe, Dylan, Ben, Austin, Kirk and Dakota – and that is what I’m most proud of.
Parents, thank you for entrusting me with these men and your endless support along the way. I couldn’t have asked for better men to represent Torrington and Tigers baseball.
To my wife, Shaylee, thank you for enduring a whirlwind summer. Thank you for being by my side through everything and keeping me grounded when things seemed to fly off the hinges.
Once a Tiger, always a Tiger.