EDITOR’S NOTE: Rich Tomey, the son of the late Dick Tomey, who has the most wins in Arizona football coaching history (95), lettered in baseball at Arizona in 1994 playing for another legendary coach — Jerry Kindall — who has the most wins on the diamond at the school (860). Talk about a coaching pedigree for the younger Tomey, who recently completed his first season as the head coach of the junior varsity baseball team at Scottsdale Horizon. Tomey is also the regional director for the Positive Coaching Alliance, which provides research-based training and resources for coaches, parents, athletes, and leaders to ensure a positive youth development experience for kids in all communities across the U.S. through sports. He wrote the following about his coaching experiences, including with Horizon’s JV team that went 13-2-1 this season.
I had the amazing opportunity to grow up with a dad who was an amazing father, coach and leader of men. He always treated every player the same, no matter if they were a walk-on or a scholarship player. Having respect and true caring for his players was something that was mutual and something I have always strived for as a coach as well at any level.
He always said that if it was just about the wins and losses he never would’ve made it as a coach and that’s something I will always remember to this day. Ultimately, this team philosophy more often than not, did lead to successful seasons on the field in the win/loss column. You get much more out of your players when they are in a positive environment.
Having personally played and learned from some great coaches like Jerry Kindall was also a big part of my life. Coach Kindall treated everyone with respect and dignity. Coach Kindall did demand a lot out of his players but he also gave everyone an opportunity to succeed. He was very fair. Always made everyone feel a part of the team, and you always wanted to work your hardest to make Coach Kindall and his staff proud of you as a player and that’s something I’ve never forgotten and some thing that he instilled in me as a player.
You always felt that he had everything under control when he was coaching (no matter the game situation) and I think the ability to remain calm and under control when things were either good or bad was one of his best attributes.
On a personal level, I remember when I played professional baseball (my one and only summer) he came to a game to upstate New York one night to watch me play without even me knowing. He figured out where I was and just showed up. It was such a great humbling experience knowing that he cared that much to come and watch no strings attached. He always had a personal connection with his players and that speaks volumes.
I’ve coached at many different levels of baseball. To me, JV is such an important step in the process because all these kids are striving to to ultimately make varsity. It should be my (or any coach at that level) job to ensure that if you were good enough to make the team, everyone should have a chance to play and improve, while putting them in the best position to hopefully make varsity in the coming year or years.
Obviously, while playing time is not always equal, the freshman and JV level should be (in my mind) primarily developmental. We’re here to build a winning culture and a program on and off the field. Kids (especially in high school) develop physically and mentally at different stages in their years. Some of these kids are more mature. Some are late bloomers and I use myself as an example because I was a late bloomer and really didn’t fully reach my potential physically as a pitcher or hitter until i grew substantially my junior year of high school.
I went from someone who was just working hard to try and make the team, to team MVP and a first-team all-city player at Salpointe that had an opportunity to pitch in college and professionally. I can see this trajectory in many of these players that I had come through this year, as some are more advanced and some are still growing and developing.
Keeping them interested and wanting to fan their love of the game is incredibly important at this stage. At the end of the day, if the players on my team had fun, learned how to compete at a high level, showed improvement, became good teammates, handled adversity, strived to win and learned some life lessons, then I did my job!