Fare thee well, Coach
I moved to Tennessee in the winter of 2001 when I was just a rotten little junior high kid.
Having just moved to Leapwood from Wyoming, I was without friends or recreational activities; things I had taken for granted growing up in the decent-sized city of Cheyenne.
Alone and suffering from boredom, a cure to my ailments was presented to me when then Head Basketball Coach, Greg Martin introduced me to the Head Baseball Coach, Steven Lambert.
Lambert asked if I had ever played ball before and I’m sure my eyes lit up like the Fourth of July. I told him all about baseball in Wyoming and how high schools didn’t sponsor teams because the spring season was too short. He explained how different it was here, and how, even as an eighth grader, I was eligible to play for the Cardinals. I was stoked, to say the least. When I arrived home from school that afternoon, I grabbed my glove, a ball, and my brother and we headed for the field behind our house to play some catch because I had a tryout coming up.
This was the beginning of my relationship with Coach Lambert. It’s a relationship that has only grown stronger over the last 12 years.
There have been ups and downs through the years — you have to remember that I was a rebellious high school student for a good portion of that time — but today I still consider him a good friend and someone that I can call on when I need help, or just someone to talk to.
The beautiful thing about Coach Lambert is that he is like that with all of his former players. There’s never a time that he won’t drop what he’s doing and take time out of his busy schedule for one of us when we’re in need. In fact, Lambert has admittedly neglected some of the more important facets of his life to tend to baseball related matters for too long.
He always preached a message to his players; Make God first in your life, make family second, make school third, and let baseball come last. It’s safe to say that, at times, the message he preached wasn’t always practiced in his life, but that’s about to change.
Lambert, now a full-time teacher and family man, will be able to spend more time with his wife, Gretchen and kids, Jordan, Anderson, and Eli. He deserves this more than any man I know outside of members of the armed forces.
He has dedicated every waking hour to making the Adamsville Baseball Program everything he could possibly make it, within his power. He’s spent countless hours grooming the field, budgeting the books, and running inventory of baseball necessities and concessions. He’s come up with new and unique methods of training players and how to implement them in a practical way--some borrowed from collegiate baseball programs, others were conjured up in his mind. He’s traveled tens of thousands of miles to different baseball venues around the state so that his Cardinals could face the best competition to prepare them for their goal of winning a state championship. All the while, he put his players’ welfare and growth as young men in front of it all.
Yes, Coach Lambert finished his baseball coaching career at the school with more losses than wins. Yes, it’s true that Coach Lambert never won a district championship while at Adamsville. Yes, there are no state championship banners waving on campus either. But as I’ve said before, you cannot always measure success with wins and losses or trophies and rings.
I think it may have been fate calling the day I interviewed Lambert about his resignation. I met with him, fittingly enough, on the baseball field at the high school where we had spent so much time together. We sat down in the dugout and we were talking about life before the interview began when I noticed a quote written on the whiteboard that’s bolted to the dugout wall. The quote was un-authored, but it read, “Don’t remember someone for the few things they did wrong, but for the many things they’ve done right.”
Our community needs to hold onto this when remembering Lambert’s career. Not only is he one of the best teachers at Adamsville High School, he’s one of the most caring and emotional people you’ll ever meet. He wears his heart on his sleeve, and anyone that’s played for him knows that.
He also cares so much for his players. He wants nothing more than to see them turn into good young men that will, in turn, become the type of leaders this country will need in the future. Men that stand up and take care of their own. Men that don’t look for handouts, and know that hard work and dedication are the prices you have to pay to become a successful person in this life. Men that know they cannot make it on a name or talent alone.
For those of you out there that don’t know Lambert, or for those of you that see him as a losing coach, stop, step back, and look at some of the boys he helped usher into manhood through his time coaching the Adamsville Cardinals. I didn’t always appreciate the man the way I do today. I didn’t always see the “big picture,” but now that I do, I’m thankful for the time I spent playing for him.
His focus now will shift to his family. He’ll be able to afford more attention to his loving wife, his daughter enrolled in college, his daughter enrolled at AHS, and his son, who is beginning his own baseball career at the Dixie Youth level. I’m excited to see what young Eli will become with his father there for every practice and ballgame, and I’m happy for both of them that it will be possible.
I took the opportunity to write this column because without Coach Lambert in my life, without that opportunity to play ball and learn from a man whose goal was to make me a better one, there’s no telling where I would be today. For that, I am forever indebted to Lambert. I wish him the best of luck in life, and I thank him for everything he’s taught me along the way. He is a great man. Fare thee well, Coach.
(This column is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Independent Appeal or its owner.)