Cooney has spent 20 seasons as head coach at Florida Atlantic University. He has
compiled more than 700 victories with the Owls and more than 850 wins in his
24-year career as a head coach. Cooney has
spent the past five seasons offering his thoughts on baseball - and other
things - for CollegeBaseballInsider.com. Cooney's Owls finished their first
season in the Sun Belt Conference at 36-22 in 2007.
April 24, 2008
I Got a Life I Need to Start
My attempt to thank all those who have been such
an important part of my experience as a coach will certainly
fall short. It would rival the Litany of The Saints, and
certainly prove a daunting challenge to someone who can’t even
remember his kids’ names.
For some reason, the
Lord has chosen to smile on the Cooney family for years. He
provided me with great parents and a brother who was my first
My parents steered
me towards baseball at a young age and never changed course. I
believe it was all they wanted me to do in life, and for that I
will be forever grateful.
Joe Garvey was my
high school coach at Essex Catholic in Newark. He showed me that
a coach can be compassionate and funny and still be hard-nosed
Clary Anderson at
Montclair State was the single biggest influence in my life. So
much of what I believe as a coach and as a man I learned at his
side. He taught me the value of using good English and having
good hitters. Clary was a man of few words, but I tried to learn
from him all he said. Whatever I have become, I owe in great
measure to him.
I need to thank Bill
Digouardi for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime to coach
at Montclair State and former Florida Atlantic President Anthony
Catanese for giving me a second chance.
Florida Atlantic’s current president, Frank Brogan, has been a
great supporter, and in return, I have numerous times played his
straight man. He’s been a good friend in high places.
I’ve been fortunate
the past few years to work under Craig Angelos. It is a plus to
have a baseball man as your Athletics Director, and a good
person as well.
I have enjoyed the
friendships made over 21 years with the coaches and staff here
at Florida Atlantic. There have been some great people, some
interesting personalities, but always a group of people willing
to work hard, sometimes against great odds, to provide a
positive environment for the student athletes at FAU.
A head coach needs
good assistants in order to be successful. In my case, we needed
At Montclair State,
Rich O’Connor and Rick Giancola provided me great advice and
were never afraid to voice their suggestions no matter the risk.
They were always sure to advise me I’d get credit for being a
genius if the gambles worked. They remain friends long after
Leroy Horn’s home run.
Mike Hutch, Kevin O’Sullivan, Steve Whitaker, Bob Deutschman,
Jim Lyttle, George Roig, Norberto Lopez, Tony Fossas, and all
the student assistant coaches were the best at the difficult
task of making me look good. Their shared friendships, long
hours and their hard work will always be appreciated.
Since 1991 Associate
Head Coach John McCormack has worked tirelessly to build a
better program at Florida Atlantic University. Never shy about
voicing his opinion, Mac convinced me he could find a way to get
better players here and never failed to do so. He spent the
first year rebuilding local relationships and managed to
convince three future big-leaguers and numerous other great
players to be part of a growing program.
It’s my firm hope
that Mac is given the opportunity to continue his work and
become FAU’s next head coach.
There are so many
players from Watchung Hills, Mount Olive, Montclair State and
Florida Atlantic for me to thank that I hesitate to start. Many
have stayed in touch throughout the years, and thanks to the
anonymity of e-mail, a number have expressed their feelings in
very heartfelt ways.
Being a part of the
lives of so many young men has been the best part of this job.
Whether it was
celebrating a thrilling win in the dugout, or desperately
searching for words to console or inspire after a devastating
loss, it was an honor to stand in front of all those boys and
feel their eyes on me.
As time passed, I
realized that the great gift of coaching baseball came with an
even greater responsibility.
Though the public
sees college athletes as adults, the truth is they are usually
closer to 10 than they are to 30. The players in our charge are
someone’s children. As time passed, that fact grew more
important to me.
To the parents who
entrusted me with their sons, I say thank you. It was my hope to
treat them as I would my own. For those times I failed, I hope I
am forgiven. It was my pleasure to watch them grow up to be
I thank my players
for their effort, their spirit and for all they have done for
Florida Atlantic University. The memories you have given me are
seared forever in my mind’s eye.
The past 21 years at
Florida Atlantic have brought me soaring highs, staggering lows
and always the promise of a better tomorrow. In short those
years mirrored our lives.
It’s important to
remember that we take as much from struggle and loss as we do
from all our success. I will remember the tough times as well as
the joyful moments. The outhouse to the penthouse...it’s all
part of the ride.
I’d like to thank my
family...Maggie, Luke, Jim, Jeff and my wife Mary Beth.
To the children, I
hope that the missed birthdays, communions, little league and
high school games, have somehow been offset by running around
our field as kids, traveling on trips and knowing I’m your
Mary Beth has
managed to handle the absences, both physical and mental, that
the job brings in a way that has enabled me to pursue my dreams.
Her understanding, love and counsel have been invaluable.
Over the years, much
of how I feel about things I saw expressed in various Bruce
this moment is no different.
As my family and I
head to a beautiful farm on the Tennessee River and the start of
the next chapter of our lives, here are some words which express
I got somethin’
in my heart, I been waitin’ to give
I got a life I wanna start, yeah one I been waitin’ to live
No more waitin’;
tonight I feel the light, I say the prayer
I open the door, and I climb the stairs
Thank you all for
the life you gave me.
Bruce Springsteen’s Devils and Dust