What do you want from a high school coach? What are the expectations?
For high school athletes, and yes the parents, it’s simple: Win, win, win, have fun, learn lessons to prepare for adulthood, and of course, win, win, win.
That’s probably a little too much emphasis on winning, but parents can be overly demanding when it comes to W’s.
Through his 12 years coaching Central High School’s softball team, Scott Else found the balance between fun, fundamentals, rules, being demanding of his players and never forgetting that it’s a game.
What made the man they called Coach Scott a great coach?
“He jokes around and keeps us loose,” Myah Arrieta said. “The amount of work he has us do and the respect he gives us was always great.”
Respect — it’s a word that speaks volumes about Else and his success.
The coach made it clear to every player who came into his program that respect is the beginning of the coach-player relationship.
“What was my coaching philosophy?” Else said. “Basically do what I ask and treat me with respect and I’ll respect you, and we’ll have a lot of fun along the way.”
Else built the most powerful high school softball program on the Western Slope.
The numbers: Nine total Southwestern League titles in 12 years, including seven straight crowns — wow; three Final Four appearances at the Class 5A state tournament — double wow.
Oh, and there this little stat that has a huge wow factor: Central lost only one SWL game in the past seven seasons.
That’s quite a legacy of excellence. Naturally, winning is the easiest thing to focus on when it comes to measuring coaching success. But for Else, winning is only part of the story.
“I’m going to miss the girls,” Else said. “I love the game and teaching the game, and to see them as freshmen and when you see where they wind up as junior and seniors, it’s really special.”
After 12 years of tremendous success, Else decided to step down so he could spend more time with family and his business. He admits that he might be back as a mentor or an assistant if the new head coach is interested, but the overall head coaching demands were just too much.
Else is blunt describing his coaching style.
“I’m a traditionalist. We’re going to do the same things that have been done for 100 years,” he said. “We don’t try and do any crazy stuff. We’re going to do the same things we’ve always done and beat you that way.”
From the traditional batting stance to hustling out ground balls to hitting the cutoff to following the rules, Else’s expectation of his players is the same. And out of all those traditionalist ways of preparation, fundamentals and playing, comes respect.
Respect for the coaches, respect for teammates, respect for opponents, respect for the game.
Like rules. Follow the rules and respect will come, break the rules and there will be repercussions.
Mya Murdock, who was just selected a first team All-State shortstop, laughs about a tough lesson she learned this year. She never broke a rule until her senior year, then she was late for the bus.
“I never really thought it would happen to me,” she said. “I was like a minute late for the bus, and I thought maybe he’ll make an exception this one time. But no, he makes it clear to everyone.”
The All-State shortstop found herself on the bench for the game because she was one minute late for the bus.
Rules are rules.
Murdock, like Arrieta, who was also selected to a first team All-State player, was a wide-eyed, timid, intimidated freshman when she joined the Warriors.
It wasn’t long before Murdock’s talent took over and she was on the field, and that was 100 percent about Coach Scott.
“When I first came here I was really nervous and never had any hardcore coaching before,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting to be pushed so hard but he pushed me at a good speed.”
Arrieta also gives points to Coach Scott for making her an All-State player.
“There’s a reason I went from .300 to hitting .600 my senior year. He really boosted my confidence back when I was a freshman,” she said.
Then her words added perfect clarity to the importance of coaching young high school players.
“He believed in me and that helped me get better,” Arrieta said. “He believed in me when I wasn’t sure I believed in myself. That meant so much to me. He’s just a great coach.”
Understanding players and pushing at the right pace was one of Else’s great attributes.
So was keeping the game fun.
“You have to make it fun, why else would you want to do this if it’s not fun,” Else said. “If you’re not having fun you shouldn’t be here.”
The game and coaching was still fun for Else but life’s realities got in the way, so he had to walk away.
“I’m going to miss being around the kids, I’m going to miss the game, the strategy, coaching third base,” he said. “But mostly, I’m going to miss the kids, being around the girls, coaching them and seeing them get better.”
He coaches with the three R’s —rules, respect and runs — and so much more.
He understood his role coaching high school kids just as much as he understands the game.
He expected his players to work hard, play hard, have fun and be respectful. In turn he respected them.
The results of a dozen years speak for themselves, the W’s, yes, but there are many reasons why Coach Scott will be missed.
Respect is earned and Else is walking away with a lot of respect.
Even more respect than W’s.