Tricarico steps down after 31 years as East Davidson baseball coach

Jun. 17, 2014 @ 05:55 PM

There will be a noticeable change in the third base coaching box next spring when the East Davidson baseball team takes the diamond.
For the last 31 years, Dan Tricarico has occupied that spot in games, giving instruction to his players and teaching them how to play the game of baseball with respect. But a new face will be present in that very spot as Tricarico officially announced his retirement Tuesday afternoon from the game he treasures.
“The time was right,” said Tricarico, with wife Freda and daughter Toni by his side. “I have been blessed to be able to teach and coach in this community for the past 31 years.”
A 1980 graduate and former player at UNC-Wilmington, Tricarico took over the varsity program at East in '84. Since then, he has accumulated more than 400 victories, won seven conference titles, been to the playoffs 17 times, named conference coach of the year seven times, and has one state championship in 1999.
As impressive a resume that is, wins and losses never really mattered that much to Tricarico. How his players became better individuals in life was worth more to him than any state championship that may have come his way. He was able to instill values and give direction through his involvement with the students. Tricarico has also been a supervisor for many years over the student-led Fellowship of Christian Athletes organization.
“There are so many highlights that you have as a coach and most of them have nothing to do with winning or losing,” said Tricarico. “Most of them are when you see young men make decisions that change their lives. That, to me, is the most important thing.”
In terms of achievements on the field, that '99 championship team was a special group. They were not the favorites to win, but had breaks go their way and got hot at the right time. That season Neil Thompson tied a national record, hitting a home run in nine consecutive games. The Golden Eagles marched through the playoffs, reaching the state championship series where Reidsville awaited. East made it a clean sweep, winning Game 2 by a 6-2 score and bringing the school its first state championship.
On that team was David House, the starting centerfielder and current head baseball coach at Thomasville High School.
“To me he was more than just a coach,” said House of Tricarico. “He was like a father to all of us and made sure we were held to a higher standard. Instead of just becoming a great baseball player, he was more worried about us becoming a better man. That is something I try to do now as a coach.”
In his last season with the Golden Eagles, Tricarico guided his club to a 19-8 record, winning the Central Carolina Conference championship and advancing to the state semifinals. It was the deepest run in the playoffs since the state championship in '99. It was the sixth straight winning season to close out Tricarico's career.
Had it been a difficult year, Tricarico says he may have stuck around. But with the success the team had and longtime assistant Dan Patton waiting in the wings for his first varsity coaching position, it seemed like the right time to step away.
“The time is right to pass the reigns to coach Patton and give him the well-deserved opportunity to be the coach of the Golden Eagles,” said Tricarico. “I know that our program will be in excellent hands.”
Patton was announced as the new head coach by Athletic Director Kim Warrick. He has been on Tricarico's staff the last 15 years, serving most recently as the head junior varsity coach.
“Today, for me, is not about me,” said Patton. “It is about Dan. He has been my mentor since Day 1. I have been with him for 15 years and it is an honor more than anything. Following in his footsteps is not going to be easy.”
Tricarico plans to stay on staff and continue his duties in the social studies department.

Sports Editor Zach Kepley can be reached at 888-3631, or kepley@tvilletimes.com.