This past June, after being out of the game for two years, I received a call from Burbank Head Coach Bob Hart. I have known Bob since he was a player of mine back in the days when Hap Minor was actually good baseball. This was before he was old enough to drive. Bob was kind enough to offer me a job to come to Burbank High.
Even though I graduated from Burroughs, it took me about five seconds to decide that blue actually made me look thinner than red, besides the fact that Bob was an old Burroughs guy also.
I have been asked a few times about the makeup of the Burbank High player compared to the Crespi High players I coached in the past. Thus, here is why I am sharing this story today.
John White is a 15-year-old Burbank High sophomore you may have passed driving down the street. He does not stand out, does not have a Mohawk, or even wear loud shirts. He just looks like any other kid from a distance, average height and weight.
John, who likes the New York Yankees and Evan Longoria of the Rays, is about to make the varsity team as a sophomore, which is an accomplishment at any school. When you see him up close and personal on the field, you see the spark in his eye that not only represents where he belongs, but that he can't get enough of the game.
As a coach, all you can do is push your players — you push them harder than you want. You push and push and push until there is that fine line between the breaking point and maximum effort. After all, it's the players who win games, not coaches.
There comes a point in any game, as well as in life, when you have to make a decision as an athlete. Will you do whatever it takes, no matter the cost, to succeed and to win? It's the single thing that separates great players from players.