Kevin Cooney is
in his 17th season as head coach at Florida Atlantic University
and 21st overall. Each week, he’ll share some of the highs and lows
of running a college baseball program - one that continues to grow as a national
power. Cooney, who starred as a pitcher before taking Montclair State to a
Division III national title, has guided the Blue Wave to a 226-89 record and four NCAA Regionals the past five years. His 1999 squad won 34 straight games, tying
the NCAA mark set by Texas in 1977.
May 14, 2004
A Bad Part of a Good Job
Everyone thinks that I have the greatest job in the world. It is real hard to
argue the point with anyone that has never been a coach, and in truth, I would
never claim that coaching is anything less than a great profession. But it does
have its downside.
Not too many coaches get to be present at many of the important events in
their children’s lives. I missed a lot of my sons’ birthdays as they grew up,
and not just because they were in New Jersey and I was in Florida. My daughter
Maggie turns 6 next Friday, but her Dad will be at a game in Macon, Ga. I think
I saw two of my son’s high school baseball games. Of course, there are many
parents who face those problems because of their jobs.
I used to feel guilty about my job. My Dad drove a Public Service bus in
Newark, N.J. for 30 years. He left our house before sunrise and was rarely home
by dinner time. He was the first bus through the city on the morning of the
Newark riots. No one knew what was happening, but when he heard shots fired, his
bus made no more stops.
How did I get so lucky to spend my life doing something filled with so much
What line of work allows you to share in the competitive spirit and joys and
disappointments of young men? Who else gets to experience the high that comes in
those special moments when your players explode in relief and pure joy as they
win a big game?
But there is a dark side.
Usually it is helping young people deal with failure or shattered dreams.
Sometimes it is being the person choosing not to put a player in the lineup and
depriving him of his reason for being. Most coaches would agree that the
toughest part of the job is when you sit a kid down and tell him he is cut. No
one likes crushing someone else’s dream.
But there is a tougher part of the job.
More times than I would want, I have had to take a young man aside and
deliver the news of a parent or a sibling’s death.
Tuesday was Rob Horst’s turn.
His mother, Sue Bolin had been suffering from colon cancer for a number of
years. Her condition nearly prevented Rob from signing with FAU, but she
encouraged him to go.
Like all good mothers, she wanted the best for her son, even if she had to
make the sacrifice of not seeing him much.
Last year Sue got down for some games, and I enjoyed meeting her. We would
converse by e-mail during the season, but she looked so happy seeing Rob and his
new home in person.
This season was tougher, as Sue battled the disease. The chemotherapy that
these patients endure is draining. Sue could not get here, but she listened to
our games on the Internet and followed Rob through these diaries. He told me she
got a kick out of us referring to him as “Old Man Horst.”
Rob’s brother, Ryan, called me just before practice Tuesday afternoon. I
found Rob in our trainer’s office. He looked so happy and upbeat as I entered.
Last week, he graduated and he had a huge weekend in our sweep of Troy State.
In trying to console him, I offered my opinion that the terminally ill will
fight to live as long as they feel the need. Sue Bolin knew that her son Rob had
finally gotten his degree, and was having a great season on the field. He and
his girlfriend, Abby, had visited Sue in Nebraska last year, and I am sure she
believed her son was in good hands. She held on until after graduation and then
was content to slip free from this world and pass on to the next.
hope Sue and my Mom have seats together for tonight’s game.
Sue Bolin - Jolisse Funeral Home
Scott’s Bluff, NE 69361
Funeral is Monday
Sweep Home Alabama (5/12/04)
Winless at Winthrop, but Victorious in Friendship (5/3/04)
To Bunt or Not to Bunt - That is the Question (4/27/04)
The Promised Land (4/21/04)
A Little Rusty (4/17/04)
Knock, Knock, Knockin' on Heaven's Door (4/15/04)
OB Gets CG for FAU vs. UCF (4/13/04)
The Present and the Past (4/8/04)
Held Up Without a Gun (4/5/04)
Live by the Sword, Die by the Sword (3/27/04)
Bye Bye Buckeyes...Hello Dolphins (3/26/04)
A Festive Week Ends in a Wreck (3/22/04)
Break No Day at the Beach (3/16/04)
Baseball is Boring? What are They Smoking? (3/9/04)
Hanging with LaRussa was in the Cards (3/6/04)
Winds of Change (3/1/04)
Washington's Birthday (2/23/04)
Dugout Talks and Scouting Reports (2/21/04)
Not a Happy Valentine's Day (2/16/04)
Opening Weekend (2/9/04)
Almost FAMUs (2/2/04)
FAU Living in Land of Hope and Dreams (1/28/04)
(photo courtesy of FAU Media Relations Office)