Sports Column: Coaches often face tough scenarios

Published 9:06 pm Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Last week, I covered a baseball game between Southside and Dallas County, one of the best games I’ve been to this year. Southside rallied from six down in the final inning to take the lead, only for Dallas County to rally right back to steal the win.

It was an incredible game and hopefully the rematch scheduled for this week is able to be rescheduled.

But I also walked away incredibly impressed with Southside coach John Solomon, who somehow juggled managing the game, disciplining players and taking care of an injured player all at the same time. Solomon was Southside’s only coach at the game, and I think that’s fairly normal.

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I’ve covered three Dallas County games this year and most of the time I try to photograph games from the home dugout. It’s usually the best angle and the home team is generally the team I’m there for, but this game involved two county schools so I set up in the Southside dugout.

In the first inning, a Southside player was injured and had to leave the game. Solomon helped the player into the dugout, talked to him about the injury and managed to keep up with the tracking the game in his scorebook. When Southside was batting, he’d always wait to ensure the team knew the correct batting order, then he’d race to third base between pitches so that he could be the team’s third base coach.

In the later stages of the game, two Southside players were ejected. Both players had to leave the dugout, so Solomon understandably sent them to the bus. That’s realistically the only place they could go.

Meanwhile, he called administrators at Southside, letting them know what had happened and warning them of a possible fine that might be tied to the ejections. To be clear, neither player was ejected for fighting or anything I would call egregious. One was thrown out of the game for talking to the other team after being warned several times and the other was ejected for throwing an elbow while scoring a run at home plate.

Solomon somehow dealt with an injury, two ejections and managing the game all by himself. All of those responsibilities come with coaching the team, but having to juggle all of those scenarios at once is the perfect example of why there needs to be more than one coach leading a team.

Solomon couldn’t have handled it any better, but if at least a second coach was there, he or she could’ve taken some of those roles off his hands.

Coaches are asked to do a lot behind the scenes that most people never think about. This game was a perfect example.

Over my four years here, many local schools have found themselves in a position where they have had several less coaches on staff than the team they are playing.

I’m not sure what the answer is, but situations like the one Southside faced Friday should be avoided if possible.