Editor’s Note: The past month has been extremely difficult for the local sports community. Under better circumstances most of the area’s teams would be playing their first games this week, but with the start of the season delayed until at least the start of May due to the coronavirus, our local fields remain quiet. Recently Georgetown High baseball coach Phil Desilets penned this letter to his players and with his permission we are publishing it for the local baseball and athletic community at large.
I miss baseball. Understatement of the year. I miss everything about it. As a coach, there are so many moments that go unseen by most and I miss every single one.
I miss the day to day preparation. The practice planning. The thought that goes into planning a practice to make sure the team is learning and prepared for the upcoming game. The time spent at night making sure that each player is getting the time and education that they need in order to bring out the best in them. I miss pouring over notes and putting a scouting report together of our opponent to give us every advantage possible.
I miss being at the field. Raking, dragging, and watering the dirt. Mowing stripes into the grass to make it look like a major league field. Dropping down a clean set of foul lines and batters boxes. I miss sweeping the dugout, wiping down the bench and posting a lineup. Even pulling equipment from the shed and setting up helmets and bats in the rack. I miss snow blowing the batting cage area so we can hit outside even when the field is covered in snow. I miss spending hours spreading turface and raking out puddles to get a game in. Ok, maybe I don’t miss that as much, but at least we had a game to play afterwards.
I miss being at the field so early on a Saturday that I watch the sun come up while sitting in the dugout. Those moments of peace and quiet, which are far too familiar these days, are so hard to come by during a season when you are coaching multiple teams. I miss the grind. The days when I leave the house at 6 a.m. and don’t get home until after 8 p.m. because I’ve gone to work, coached a high school practice, then drove like hell to get to my kids’ game to throw them pregame BP. I don’t care how tired it makes me... I want it back.
I miss the hundreds of ground balls hit in practice. I miss the feel of placing a perfectly hit high pop up during pop up priorities. I miss the look I give to a player when he takes a pitch a quarter of an inch off the plate when its my 650th pitch of BP. I miss it all.
I miss putting on the uniform on gameday, hitting pregame Infield/Outfield fungos, and all the pregame jitters you feel. I miss the calm I feel once the first pitch is thrown. The way that things settle in because you’ve done everything you can to prepare for anything thrown your way. I miss the way it feels when you make the right call.
But above everything, I miss the people.
I miss the time spent at the field or on the phone with my coaching staff. The hours we spend figuring out how to make this the best experience for the kids is endless. I miss the conversations about strategy, beliefs, and personalities. I am so lucky to be surrounded by coaches that are highly intelligent baseball minds driven to succeed, but they are even more outstanding people and mentors. Phone conversations and conference calls are not the same as being together in person, not even close. I miss the time spent with them that we can’t get back.
I miss seeing opposing coaches, players and umpires. The baseball community is a tight-knit group. I found out how close this winter when my oldest son wound up in the hospital. The people that reached out and checked in blew me away. I’m looking forward to seeing them to give them a big hug and thank them. A phone call or text doesn’t do it justice.
I miss seeing how much the opposing players have grown and developed their baseball skills. Watching a player who works hard to get better each year is just awesome to see. If you’re a coach and you take notice of that, let that kid know. As competitive as we are, be human. I miss seeing the game played the right way.
I miss the parents. I know what its like to rush your kid to practice and eat dinner at 8:30 at night while trying to get them to shower and get to bed. That look that you give when you show up late to practice because he forgot his bag? Believe it or not, I miss it. Through the good times and the hard times, you are always there, and I miss seeing you there. The tears that are shed after your seniors’ last game and that final sports banquet? I feel it too, because while its not blood, your son is like family to me too.
Most of all, I miss my players. They are the reason why I do this. They are worth all of the sacrifice. I miss seeing their development, their commitment, their dedication and sacrifice. I miss the long days of the early preseason, when we don’t know when we will get on the field instead of being stuck in the gym. I miss the games of two ball, bunt competitions, the chatter on the bench or in the stretching lines. I miss the handshakes, the high fives, and the way a teammate picks another one up when they are down. I miss the conversations, no matter what it was about, whether deep and meaningful or light and humorous. I could go on and on about the things I miss, but I miss my baseball family the most. Words can’t describe how much they mean to me. Even after they graduate, to see them come back and check in is a feeling that is just awesome.
Seeing all the I miss baseball posts and pictures is great. It brings back a lot of great memories. But I miss making new memories. When we do get back, remember all the things that you missed about baseball and let your baseball family know how much they mean to you.
Phil Desilets is the head varsity baseball coach for Georgetown High School.