Skieologians: Good luck, coach

Battle Mountain coach was in the business of coaching life skills

Battle Mountain baseball coach Harrison Stevens has accepted a position at Emmanuel College in Georgia, which started this August.
Ben Dodds/Courtesy photo

A former mentor once told me that coaches, music directors and teachers all occupy the same profession. Each strives to raise up young people in the way they should go, giving them the tools to succeed after they’ve left the locker room, concert hall or class for the last time. A great coach is one who advocates for his athletes and models the character traits they hope to instill. This month, our area gave a farewell to one I believe fits the mold. 

Battle Mountain High School baseball coach Harrison Stevens and his wife, Megan, departed their childhood home — and everything they’ve ever known, really — for a grand new adventure in Georgia this past week.

After a loss to rival Summit on Battle Mountain’s home field last spring, Stevens gave a talk to his team. 

I know I shouldn’t insert myself into this story, but the Huskies reminded me of a team I played for way back in the day. It was full of guys wanting to be “the guy.” It lacked disciplined players willing to do the simple stuff well, consistently. The Huskies’ mix of youth and talent kept them in contention with anyone when things were going well, but when the rubber met the road, fundamentals were sometimes forgotten. The result: a key, late-season home matchup against a rival turns into a tough loss. 

As a player, you instinctively know what’s coming in the postgame huddle, but you hope the coach decides to focus on the bright spots anyway. Today, teachers and coaches often succumb to the temptation of letting athletes drive the car completely. It’s rare to find a mentor — nowadays — willing to eschew scratching those itching ears. The problem, of course, is that sometimes what we “want” is not always what we “need.” What an athlete desires is not necessarily what is best. 

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And so that day, I stood at a distance as Stevens gathered his boys and treated them as young men, inquiring with an almost fatherly firmness whether or not there was anyone willing to be error free in the infield, patient at the plate, and discerning on the base paths. He reminded them that playing at game speed — in practice — was the only way to play at game speed in the game.

Those two lessons — that success comes from doing the mundane things consistently, from doing the ordinary things extraordinarily well, and that we perform how we practice, certainly extend beyond the diamond. It’s proof positive that coaches, like teachers, band directors, and other club leaders, might just be in the same profession: life skills education. 

Here’s to wishing Stevens the best in his next chapter and to wishing the Battle Mountain baseball program the best in finding his replacement.

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