Opinion: Remember the coach who inspired

Jun. 17, 2014 @ 07:30 PM

A young baseball player sat on the concrete bleachers at the North Davidson High School field, anxiously awaiting the awards ceremony to begin after a week of baseball camp.
With a thick mustache and upbeat personality, one of his coaches for the week called out the special awards. He announced that young boy as the recipient of the offensive award. The youngster rose from his seat, graciously accepting while donning his New York Mets hat. The coach took notice of the hat and said, “Zach got hot this week along with the Mets!”
That boy was me and the man was longtime East Davidson baseball coach Dan Tricarico.
Officially announcing his retirement Tuesday, Tricarico made an impact on countless young ball players like myself throughout his 31 years of coaching at East. He is one of the few coaches still out there today with an old school philosophy and approach to the game. Tricarico respected the game and expected his players to do the same.
I gained much respect for Coach T two years ago in the fourth round of the state playoffs.
The Golden Eagles had won their first three playoff games – all on the road – and were visiting perennial power East Rutherford in the fourth round. They trailed 4-3 in the sixth inning, but had the tying runner on second base with one out. Lightning strikes in the distance caused the game to be halted. By rule, play must be suspended for 30 minutes before a game can be resumed. Each strike seen results in the clock being restarted.
The game was finally called well after 10 p.m. According to the rules, it was a completed game and East could do nothing to change that. It was a situation that could have easily gotten out of hand quickly with emotions being high, but the young group of ball players and their staff handled it respectfully. There was no bad-mouthing the umpiring crew or visible displeasure. They simply packed up the equipment and went on.
It was not the kind of ending to the season they deserved, but the way they conducted themselves spoke volumes. That is a direct reflection of Tricarico and how he instills discipline in the lives of his players.
He was professional in every way during his coaching career.
So many times coaches do not report their scores and stats to the newspaper. Tricarico was not one of them. Whether his team won 15-0 or lost 0-15, he made sure the kids that did well got their name in the paper.
His in-game coaching is what I will miss most. Those who have ever stood down the third base line at East Davidson know what a real treat it was to see Tricarico in action. He spoke his mind, and would even give a little insight as to what is about to happen. Even through 31 years of coaching, the old ball coach still could not figure out why his players would chase so many bad pitches. But always the teacher, he would bring them over and provide whatever guidance he could to correct the situation next time at the plate.
Outside the lines he was a friend and mentor to his players. The respect they had for him shone bright on Tuesday, as former players gathered to honor their coach at a press conference.
He was truly a gentleman both on and off the field and someone I proudly call a friend.
This young man is thankful to have crossed your path Coach T!

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