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Courage, Reflection, and Success: A High School Baseball Coach's Journey with Mike Weaver

May 24, 2023

Courage, Reflection, and Success: A High School Baseball Coach's Journey with Mike Weaver
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Imagine experiencing a gut-wrenching extra innings loss as a high school baseball coach, and then having the courage to reflect on the game without regret. That's exactly what our guest, Olentangy Berlin High School's Head Baseball Coach Mike Weaver, does in this engaging episode. Join us as Mike shares his unique perspective on the sport, the pivotal moments of the recent match against Gehanna Lincoln, and the tough decision to bring in a reliever. 

We also dive into the world of high school baseball coaching, where Mike juggles his roles as coach, teacher, and parent in the competitive atmosphere of Southern Delaware County in Ohio. Discover the work being done to ensure the success of high school programs and the importance of mentoring younger coaches in building a strong community. 

Lastly, we get a glimpse of Mike's coaching style, his predictions for the central district division one regionals, and his most successful season this year. Taking risks and trusting his instincts have led Mike and his team to great heights. Don't miss out on these valuable insights and experiences from a dedicated high school baseball coach.

Speaker 1: Today on the athlete one podcast. Looking back on it with after talking to your coaches, is there anything you would have done differently?

Speaker 2: Not a thing. You know, and that's the conversation we were having, you know, immediately following the game and the dugout probably, you know, sitting in there and until the sun went down and it was dark, going over things and and even meeting yesterday and talking about a few decisions that were made late in that game and wouldn't change. Wouldn't change a thing. I think you know you go with with your gut and and you trust your kids and and and you stand by that and I and I feel like there's not not one thing that would that we would have changed welcome to the athlete.

Speaker 3: One podcast, veteran high school baseball coach, ken Carpenter, takes you into life's classroom as experienced through sports. Go behind the scenes with athletes and coaches as they share great stories, life lessons and ways to impact others this episode of the athlete one podcast is powered by the netting professionals.

Speaker 1: Improving programs one facility at a time high school and college baseball and softball coaches. Now it's the time to start thinking about your facilities. Why not reach out to will minor and his team at the netting professionals? they design, fabricate and install custom netting for baseball and softball, including backstops, batting cages, bp turtles, bp screens, ball carts and so much more. They also design and install digital graphic wall padding, windscreen, turf, turf protectors, dugout benches and cubbies. They're not limited to just baseball and softball. They also work with football, soccer, lacrosse and golf courses. Contact them today at 844-620-2707 that's 844-620-2707 or visit them online at wwwnettingproscom. Or check out netting pros on Twitter, instagram, facebook and LinkedIn for all their latest products and projects. Hello and welcome to the athlete one podcast. I'm your host, ken Carpenter, and joining me today is Olenton's you Berlin high school head coach, mike Weaver. Coach. Thanks for taking the time to join me on the athlete one podcast thanks for having me, coach Carpenter.

Speaker 2: I appreciate.

Speaker 1: It happy to be here well, here we are in Ohio and district play has started for the state tournament and your team just suffered a heartbreaking extra ending loss to Gehanna Lincoln three to two, just two days ago. I know this is a tough time, but I I really appreciate you taking the time out of your day to join me here, but are you still replaying that game in your head?

Speaker 1: every second, every second well, now that you've had a couple days to process it, looking back on it with after talking to your coaches, is there anything you would have done differently?

Speaker 2: not a thing. You know, and that's the conversation we were having, you know, immediately following the game and the dugout probably, you know, sitting in there and until the Sun went down and it was dark, going over things and and even meeting yesterday and talking about a few decisions that were made late in that game and wouldn't change. Wouldn't change a thing.

Speaker 1: I think you know you go with with your gut and and you trust your kids and and, and you stand by that and and I and I feel like there's not not one thing that would that we would have changed well, you know your players better than anybody, so you've spent the last four years with these guys and you know when you, if you could, can you kind of just give us a brief synopsis, for, like the listeners that we have all over the country, that How did your game went down, because you know it's got to be a tough loss to have to deal with.

Speaker 2: Yeah, so you know we were, we got a, we got a lead early in the game. You know they were, they've got, they've got great pitching at Gehanna and we feel like we do too. And You know we were throwing, we were throwing our one and he's first team all district OCC player of the year And and I could tell right away from the first inning he had he had his a stuff and you know he, you know we tacked on a run in the in the bottom of the sixth which, as you know, a two-run lead is lights different than a one-run lead, and And and he's going in to the top of the seventh, probably in the upper 80s with the pitch count, which isn't, you know, at this time of the year. He, he has put in the work for that and he's and he's got a no-hitter. And so You know we had somebody ready in the pen and You know, lead off, walk and a strikeout and then another full count, walk with runners on first and second, and then you know you start to to Think about, you know, is it time for the change, and then, and then We get a fly out and we've got two outs and then You know, first pitch of the next batter, hit by pitch. And now we got bases loaded and and you know we, we looked at each other and the question do we go to the pan? and and You know I, i wouldn't change anything and we were a strike away, two pitches in a row, close ones, on the corner, and You know you're, you're watching that pitch and you're just you're thinking this is the one.

Speaker 2: No hitter, districts have my final win. And they, and they, they're, they're hit at a good job and gets a base hit that ties it up, goes into extras, they end up with a runner on third, with two outs and a in a infield single. And then we had our chances in the in the bottom of the eighth and which we've come through all year and, and You know I I Are kids battled and so did so did Gehanna, and it was a great baseball game. That's what district baseball games are, i mean, and we've talked about that all year. They come down to inches And sometimes they go in your favor and sometimes they don't, and that's why we all love And despise the game of baseball at the same time.

Speaker 1: Yes, well, you know the the connection that you and I have with this. That is My last game as a head coach. We played Gehanna in the districts, and we were playing on a college field at Ohio, dominican, and You know your, it's stereotypical Full count bases loaded, three, two count on the batter, and we had a couple pitches that In that count we thought was going to go our way and they didn't. A umpire even made the motion and you know we, it didn't happen for us, and then The Division.

Speaker 1: One player a year hits a pop-up. It's in the first base dugout and our first baseman comes over to grab it and it, as he goes to reach for it, a JV player that I brought up just to give him the experience of being on the varsity, had his glove on and reached out and knocked it out of his hand, and We had to go back out and throw another pitch, and Next pitch was a base hit. We lose, yeah, yep, and so it's, it's, it's. I Mean it just felt like it happened yesterday to me, so I know exactly what you're going through right there, that's for sure. Yeah, but if you, if you think about it, though, overall, 2023 Has to be viewed as probably one of the best seasons in Berlin history, and you won a very challenging OCC division and you put up a 21 season.

Speaker 2: Yeah, yeah, it's It. It. you know, looking, looking back, and even after the game, i told you know, when we have our meetings, you know we, we talk about legacy and leaving a legacy, and And specifically with our seniors and I, i said, you know what legacy are you going to leave? And and I told them afterwards, like the legacy that they have left will Will never be forgotten. You know we're it's our first ever conference championship School record for for wins were 21 and 8. The previous, you know, record was wins was 16. We had a 12 game winning streak That ended on Monday. And and just you know, even though it was only our fourth year of being a program, you know when we have our banquet next week we're going to talk about, you know, just all of the, not just The team accomplishments but the number of individual records that were broken, because we celebrate those at the end of the season, because You know that's what that's what goes into having successful Team season is is getting the best out of your guys individually for the team.

Speaker 1: Well, you just just mentioned you, the school's- only been in existence for four years, and Talk about that for your process and the challenges of starting up a new program, and Are you where you think you wanted to be four years later? Wanted to be four years later?

Speaker 2: No doubt, no doubt, and it's been difficult. You know, year one, we don't have seniors, and so we're trying to establish and lay the foundation which that first senior class who ended up not getting the season the next year because of COVID two of them were in our dugout on Monday night, And that tells you everything you need to know about what you're doing Exactly. You know the sectional final game. We had three kids from the 2022 class and two graduates from the 2021 class in the dugout And it's just so great to see, especially when we don't have the history that some of these other schools do. You're trying to build something, and really, what you're trying to build is a culture of relationships, and that's what we've always kind of set the groundwork laid, the groundwork of just building relationships with these kids and teaching them how to play baseball the right way, teaching them and trying to guide them to be successful in life. And hey, maybe along the way we'll win some baseball games.

Speaker 1: Yes, and that says a ton when you have former players coming back, because that tells me you're doing things right.

Speaker 2: Yep, thank you.

Speaker 1: And you know when we talk yesterday by phone. You know being a high school baseball coach is difficult, no matter where you are in the country. When the season comes to an abrupt end like that. You don't get to go on a vacation After you're knocked out of the tournament. You got to go back the next day. You're back in class, yep, teaching. Yep. You start preparing for a banquet. You have to inventory equipment, yep. You start prepping for all the summer tournaments that are going to be played on your field. And probably the most important thing is you got to flip that switch after a tough loss like that and walk back in the house. And you got to. Now you're dead again, yep, and you got a couple young ones. That it's a challenge, isn't?

Speaker 2: it Absolutely, and sometimes I sit in my truck in the driveway and make sure I've got that coach's cape off first. I don't always do a great job of it. My wife's a teacher as well and she teaches here at Berlin, so she knows, she understands, she's great. You know, i just she, just when we were just talking about that yesterday, and I'm sure you know this, like you, can't be a successful head coach if you don't have a successful support, a supportive wife, especially when you know I've got a 10 and a 12 year old that played travel Baseball and my daughter I was at her travel soccer game last night, but yeah, when I walked in, you know they feel bad for you. But then the first thing the question my son asked me is does this mean you're going to coach my Little League game on Wednesday? And I said, yep, i'll be there.

Speaker 1: There you go And that's all you can do as a coach. And you know I sit and think about it. You know all the time. You know when you look at a coach from another dugout or you know you happen to beat them in a tournament or you get beat and you look around at your staff and you think you know this. It's tough to do. And what message would you like to share with the current team, your future players and parents, when it comes to having them understand that all you ever try to do as a coach is to do what first? I always think is do what's best for the team and then make sure that you're being a positive role model and making each player, when they walk out of your program, productive? men were a society.

Speaker 2: Well, yeah, and I think it's twofold One. You know I try to reiterate to them every day and hope they understand that being a high school baseball coach is just a small part of my life. I'm a teacher but more importantly, i'm a husband and a father, and so I understand and I will say this all the time I understand, you know, some of the difficulties that these young men, and even in my classroom, that these young women are going through and with the pressures that are put on them, because you know I'm a dad and I try to look at it from that point of view And that you know one. I want them to know that I love them and I care about them, and if they don't think that, then I'm doing something wrong. But sometimes I tell them, just like conversations that I have with my son and daughter they don't always like because they're honest conversations, but I have those conversations with them because I love them.

Speaker 2: And so and I try to reiterate that to our parents and our players is that the decisions that are made and the conversations that we have with you are all in your best interest, out of love And wanting to see you grow as a person, And sometimes that doesn't equate to playing time, and I understand that Everybody wants to play and I don't expect them to be happy if they're not playing as much as they don't want to play or as they want to play, i'm sorry. So I get that, but those are the decisions that I have to make And it doesn't mean that I don't care about them. That doesn't mean that I don't love them. It's. You know, those are just some of the difficult decisions that you have to make what's best for the team and the program.

Speaker 1: Yes, definitely. Well, you're in Southern Delaware County in Ohio and a lot of people may not know this around the country, but it's probably in the last five, 10 years, one of the fastest growing areas in the country And it went from one high school to now there's four high schools that are very competitive Every single year. In baseball you have great coaches who have one coach has been one estate title. You've had another school that's been to a couple state championship final fours And there's gotta be some competition within the county. Is there something there where you guys like we wanna be the best in the county?

Speaker 2: Absolutely, absolutely. But that only drives us all to be better, to have better programs, to have better facilities. Don't think that's not put on me. When people see the facilities that Liberty and Orange have and no even and Ryan's got such a great field over there at Oluentangie And we've been doing this for four years and people wanna know why we don't have some stuff And I'm like we're working on it.

Speaker 2: We're working on it. But that's the district in the community that we're a part of and I embrace that challenge And we have such wonderful youth programs And people that want to see the high school programs succeed and they do such a great job with building our youth and baseball and I'm lucky, we're all lucky. We're lucky that the amount of youth programs and the development and the time that's put in by the parents in this community to in our youth programs very fortunate that not everybody gets that And I don't look past that. I am thankful for that every day. My son plays in it, so I'm thankful for it, not just as a coach but as a father.

Speaker 1: Yes, my son grew up in the Oluentangie youth system too, so I totally get what you're saying. I guess I wanted to ask you. Okay, when I first got into coaching 27, 28 years ago I met your brother, rick, who's the coaching at Defiance High School, which is, year in and year out, one of the top programs in the state, and him and Tom held do a great job up there. And Is it something early on, you know, i gotta ask why? why did you want to become a baseball coach?

Speaker 2: I Think I think it comes from our dad. You know, we, we just, we grew up both and our dad played baseball at Otterbine For coach fish ball, like, i think, his first year. My brother actually ends up playing for him as well. So so baseball, we were a baseball house. You know, we're Royals fans Not very many of those.

Speaker 2: You know my son's name is Brett after my son's name is Brett, after George Brett, and That's all my brother and I ever did Was was play one-on-one with football in the backyard against each other, and my dad would take us To the, to the little league field, and throw BP to us. And you know He's he's a retired, very successful businessman. But he used to tell my brother and I all the time if he could go back and do anything different, he would have been a teacher and a coach, and I just think That you know, growing up with the love of baseball along with You know our mom, who is, who is in the insurance industry, but she's, she's that type of caring person that knows and and meets and talks to anybody on the street, and so I think that personality we got from her, but the drive that We got from my dad in the love of the game, i think steered us both into education and being baseball coaches, and I think we were both just Born to do it. Yeah, and and it's, it's and a teach. You know we're both teachers first and and And, but we both have that, that that gifts, you know, from our mom of being able to create great relationships with people, and that drive from our father and love of baseball to work hard and, you know, never settle.

Speaker 2: And then I think that that Especially, you know, with with him, trust me, we, we, we are, we are both so super competitive. You know, he's my best friend But we're so competitive that I think we're always pushing each other to, you know, to see who has more success. And I told them we were, we were Prepping for a pbr event, and they, they said let's do the defiance Berlin game again. And I said I don't want to do that one anymore, like I don't, i don't I, i it's my older brother, i, i'd like to just go to Christmas and enjoy.

Speaker 1: Yes, definitely. Well, you know, if you You think about it. You know, in today's society where More and more teachers are walking away from the teaching profession, we're losing great coaches left and right. You guys are the perfect example of what's right about being a teaching and a coach, and You know I. We need more people like you, staying in in the profession and being there for both the students and the athletes.

Speaker 2: Yeah, i agree and and I appreciate that a lot, um, because it's not always easy, um and um, you know my like.

Speaker 2: Again, you know, rick and I we don't we text, but probably every day and and if I'm struggling with something, you know I text him or, um, if it's, if, if it's something, uh, you know, i just I just had a 30 minute phone conversation on saturday with coach held because he's my high school coach.

Speaker 2: Um, my brother and I both played for him in high school and so, um, you know, guys, and we have a group text with, with some guys from Cincinnati and you know, coach held, from molar, and I were high school teammates and college roommates, um, and so we, we, we were just talking about this last night that, um, there's a lot of us that are that are, um, doing it for the right reasons and we have to stick together, um, because it's not always easy and and so I think you know, and I'm sure it's like this in other sports I haven't been a head coach in those, but but baseball is different, the fraternity of baseball coaches is different and uh, um, and it needs to continue to grow. You know, as, as the younger coaches come in, i I try to mentor them, um and talk to them about you know the the right way to do things. And and um to continue to grow the game. And and and keep the right guys in the game, um to develop it the right way.

Speaker 1: Yes, definitely. Well, hey, to switch gears here. Yeah, i, i like to to finish up the podcast with what I I call rapid fire questions. Okay, and uh, just kind of get some things out there and see what you think on it. Who advances out of the central district, division one to the regionals?

Speaker 2: Okay, uh. So, so the four teams that will be playing in the regionals Yeah, from from central Ohio. Yeah, okay, so i'm gonna say Um grove city, liberty, orange and And Gehanna.

Speaker 1: Wow, okay, now you mentioned your, your old college roommate who Played coaches, a powerhouse of a program, since Nanny Muller, who wins it all in Division One.

Speaker 2: I think that it's going to be. I think that it's going to be whoever wins that, probably regional final game of Muller Mason.

Speaker 1: Right, okay, good, if you could make one change and you could wave the magic wand, what would be the one change you would make? the high school baseball.

Speaker 2: Um allowing high school coaches to coach in the summer.

Speaker 1: Yes, because we only. I believe it's 10 days. 10 days Yes.

Speaker 2: Yeah, i think it should be unlimited.

Speaker 1: Yep, now, as far as your coaching style, are you a risk taker or are you kind of more? go by the book, the the analytic side of things.

Speaker 2: I think that I think you know I used to be a more of an analytical guy, but, but I'm more of a risk taker. As far as aggressiveness, um, my assistants would probably say that's not true, but I, especially with base running, um we've, we've, we've, we've been way more aggressive. We were way more aggressive this year than than I ever have been in the past. Um, and just taking chances and and um, you know, putting it more on the players, you know you sometimes throwing a ball and catching a ball um be very difficult. So I've become, definitely, become, definitely become more risky as far off offensively.

Speaker 1: Do you think that attributed to your most successful season this year?

Speaker 2: I think it had a lot to do with it. Yeah, and I think the kids will will tell you the same thing. Um, and they also said you know that, um, there were they and a lot of them will say this, and I and I kind of looked back at it and then they said we just felt like you were having more fun this year And, and we joked, i joked with the dad, well, we were winning, and that's maybe that played a little bit into it, but but I told them for I told our kids from four years that I would never get light blue pants, even though I'm a Royals fan. I just thought it was trendy And I just want I'm old school in.

Speaker 2: Um, as far as uniforms are concerned, and, um, you know, about a month ago I ordered them and we busted them out for them two days before the tournament started And we got a an energy, big energy chain for the dugout. And I said, and you know, i let them have fun And, um, and I'm like you know it's, it's not, you don't have to be so serious all the time. You know, let the kids have fun, as long as they were being respectful. Every once in a while I had to walk over and say no, not that, not that, not that that's, you know you know how.

Speaker 3: You know how it goes with them.

Speaker 2: They pushed the line and then I'm like, eh, no, no, but um, you know, and, and, and I think I learned a lot this year And I and the kids you know have have noticed and, um, I think to be successful as a successful, whatever it is that you do, and and and a program, you always have to um, look internally and and recognize when certain changes are needed to be made. Um, you can't just do the same thing over and over again and expect to continue to have success, and I think that's what's what's made us a successful program And hopefully it continues.

Speaker 1: Well, i got. I got two left for okay, sorry. Would you rather be an underdog when it comes to tournament time here You've played for Defiance, which is a division two powerhouse program here in Ohio every year, and now your coach in division one baseball. would you rather be an underdog or the team that is expected to win when it comes to tournament time?

Speaker 2: I want to. I want to be the team that's expected to win, because then that means that that we've had success in the regular season, um and and, and I've noticed the difference in that when it comes to seeding and with your record and draw and what you get plus. I think you know we spent a lot of time this year. I did a workshop with Brian Kane down at Ohio State and we spent more time this year on mental training than we ever have, and there's something that's that's that. That said, that goes into expecting success, and I think that equates to success on the field. So the more success that you vision and expect to have, i think the more success that you see come out on the field, and I believe in that.

Speaker 1: Yes. Final question The best story from all of your years of coaching you've been to these clinics. Everybody gets together. What is the best story you've ever experienced or have heard as a coach? Well, and if I want to add, you can even make it if it's funny too, so those are usually the good ones.

Speaker 2: And I don't know if I don't know. There was one, there's a couple from Coach Held. There's a lot from Coach Held playing for him and coaching. There was one that we always talk about where he got mad And we had a meeting after a loss in the locker room and he turned around and threw his hat and it landed in the stall on the toilet And he was still talking to us and none of us were even paying attention. We were just staring at his hat And it was teetering and we were all just hoping it was gonna fall in the toilet And it did. And you could see every one of us when it like, give a yeah, like that, yeah, it fell in the toilet. And we still talk about it. We talk about that one, whether it's the national clinic or the state clinic. It gets brought up and Tom tries to pretend like he doesn't remember it happening. And then you know, and then we always, we still then always talk about.

Speaker 2: Tom always wants me to retell the story of when Rick and I were 10 and 12 and my dad threw BP to Rick until it got dark out for him to try to hit a home, his first one, his first home run at the Little League field And he connected on one and I was shagging balls because that was my job. And he connected on one that was gonna be a home run and I leaped up over the fence and I robbed him and my dad chased me to the car because he was so mad at me because he was ready to go And I looked at him like hey, great catch, right. And he was like no, not a great catch. And so I actually use that as my part of my best man speech at Rick's wedding. So I'm always forced to tell that story too by Tom. Tell us the home runs, the robbed home run story again. So there we go, yep.

Speaker 1: Well, hey, coach, i appreciate you taking the time to join me here on the Athlete One podcast. Once again, mike Weaver, old intention, you're brilliant in high school, coach, thanks again.

Speaker 2: Hey, thank you very much. I appreciate you having me.

Speaker 1: This episode of the Athlete One podcast is proudly sponsored by the netting professionals, improving programs, one facility at a time. Contact them today at 844-620-2707, or visit them online at wwwnettingprosecom. If you've enjoyed today's show, don't forget to hit the subscribe button, rate the show and leave us a review. It helps us to grow the Athlete One podcast. Also, don't forget to follow us on Twitter, instagram and Facebook at Athlete One podcast. And, as always, thanks for listening.