For Jeff Garrity, it all started when he played baseball for Male during his high school days. After graduating, he stayed connected with the sport, umpiring both high school and small college games. Some players keep a close connection with that special coach throughout their athletic career. For Garrity, that was Coach Todd Driskell â€“ who later asked Garrity to coach the freshman baseball team at Male. For 11 years, Coach Garrity moved up in the ranks and recently finished his second season as the head coach for the Male Bulldogs baseball program. Since coaching at Male, the sweet sound of Dorothy saying, â€œthereâ€™s no place like home,â€ resonates in his heart.
â€œI feel so fortunate to be at such an awesome place like Male,â€ Garrity claims. â€œIt has such an awesome tradition. It is something I donâ€™t take lightly.â€ When asked about his relationship with Coach Driskell, he says, â€œHe is just an amazing mentor and Christian person. He always instilled those values. He was tough with discipline, but all for the better for us. He is someone I would come back and talk to about things. We still talk baseball a lot.â€
Male High School has been known for always maintaining school spirit and tradition, and its baseball program is no exception. The program has been highly successful and reputable for years. So in elevating Garrity to head coach, Male was simply keeping the tradition in the family. Not many coaches have the opportunity to attend a school, play sports for that school and then years later coach the same program. As one who played and has been around the program for years, Coach Garrity has the chance to build on the rich tradition that has already been established.
â€œI am extremely grateful and humble to be able to build the program,â€ Garrity says. â€œAfter high school, you want to see the players be successful in whatever road they take. There are so many things that are more important than baseball on the field. My thing first and foremost is the academic side â€“ that kids take care of business in the classroom. The character side, trying to be a good role model and trying to instill in them to make good decisions, be good people, and caring about one another.â€
In finishing his second season as head coach, Garrity has racked up 46 wins and has kept Male as one of the top baseball programs in the seventh region. As a young coach, he is surrounded by seasoned coaches who have worked with him in keeping the program top-notch. He says, â€œI have been blessed with great assistant coaches. Weâ€™ve been able to have consistency on the staff. I think that is huge, especially for someone like myself, who is young. To have those guys with baseball experience is really vital.â€
Apart from learning from the veteran assistant coaches, Garrity has learned another nuance in coaching: the necessity of leading by example.
â€œWhat I really focused on was the team and myself having more energy. I knew I had to bring the competitiveness and fire and energy too if thatâ€™s what I wanted from my team. I think the more that you can connect with a kid, even if it is talking with them about things that are going on, the more kids see that, the more they respect [you], and it builds team chemistry between player and coach.â€
Garrity looks forward to more athletic success but always keeps in mind the well-roundedness of his players.
â€œSuccess on the field is ultimately important, but if you focus more on the kids and make them better through making sure they are great students and people and teaching them how to be leaders, you will continue to have people who want to be a part of the program,â€ he argues. â€œYou have to show and teach them how to be leaders. Focusing on those things to build better kids and better people will bring a positive influence in the long run.â€ VT