Taloff deserves this
After 34 years as a head coach, Stan Taloff has his first state championship
But up until Saturday, he had never won the big one.
That has all changed.
The Wildcats came from behind against Lynden in the 2A state championship game in extra innings and defeated Lynden 7-6 thanks to Eric Lawson's two-run double in the bottom of the eighth inning.
This season I have gotten to know Taloff. I wrote a story about him a little more than midway through the season when he surpassed 500 wins. I was able to sit down with him for a lengthy amount of time and rehash his career -- it is one of the stories that I am most proud of as a journalist. I also covered a few of the Wildcats' games in their run to the championship.
As a sportswriter, but also a former athlete and a former coach, I always respect the effort it takes to be a coach. I know that it takes a great deal of dedication and includes a responsibility to not only help players improve at their sports, but also become better people. Being a coach is more than just teaching a game. It is about teaching players how to succeed at life. I have a great deal of respect for anyone who takes on that responsibility. I have met many coaches who I feel exhibit this quality, but I have to say, after getting to know Taloff, he is near the top of the list.
When I sat down with Taloff I got a glimpse into who he is as a person, not just a baseball coach. He is the type of person who teaches his kids to play the right way. He is the type of person who knows that there are bigger things in life than sports and he tries to instill that in his players. He is the type of coach that I would want my kids to play for -- if I had any.
Talent certainly plays a role in being able to win a state title in any high-school sport. The Wildcats have it and it is undeniable. Levi MaVorhis is nothing short of spectacular, both as a pitcher and as a hitter. But the Wildcats have other weapons, Trever Morrison and Alex Galgano just to name a few.
Taloff has told me throughout the season that it is the players that do the job -- and he is right. The players are the ones that win the games and win the championships, but I would be hard-pressed to believe that they could have done it without Taloff's guidance.
There isn't a logical reason why Taloff went 34 years as a head coach without winning a state championship. He had other teams with great talent, but as he told me, "sometimes it's just up to baseball."
Saturday his faith was rewarded. The Wildcats recovered from two late-game deficits to become state champions. Taloff's wife Katie has been by his side throughout the journey. Her faith was rewarded too.
I got the opportunity to talk to MaVorhis and Lawson after their state championship win. It was clear that these kids have been touched by Taloff's influence. He has helped them to not only become better baseball players, but better people.
When I wrote the story about Taloff's 500th victory as a head coach I got the opportunity to speak to several of his former players that had grown up and realized just how much their coach has meant to the process of them becoming a better baseball player -- a better person or a better father.
When I saw Lawson's hit sail over Lynden's shortstop into center field and I knew the Wildcats had won it, I couldn't help but feel happy for Taloff.
He no longer had to talk about the one accomplishment that had eluded him.
There are a lot of great coaches out there that never win the big game, but when the winning run crossed the plate, I thought, 'this couldn't happen to a better guy.'
It was one of the better baseball games that I have ever seen, and the ending was fitting. A coach and a team with the physical, mental and spiritual toughness like I had never seen before had won the whole thing.
Taloff is right, this is about the players and it will last them a lifetime. But I want to make sure that in the mix of this accomplishment, Taloff's influence on these players and the 34 years of players that came before him isn't lost.
Stan Taloff is a great guy, a great coach and he stands for the right things. The things any parent would want their kids to exhibit. Stan Taloff deserves this.
Congratulations Coach Taloff. It has been a long time coming.
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