The Coaches Who Changed Me

by Tim Hart | Jan 17, 2023 2:35:00 PM

Meet My Lifelong Mentors

When I was 6 years old, I went to a day care with a baseball field next to it. The kids who showed up for camp there were the coolest people in the world to me. I watched them run bases, practice bunting, and toss the ball back and forth with my nose practically up against the classroom window.

I must have talked about them at home, too, because eventually my parents enrolled in me in the camp. I can still remember the first time the coach, Jeff Miner, waved me over.

“Hey kid,” he said, “It’s time for your first practice.”

I could hardly believe it! I ran onto the field with a huge grin on my face. I didn’t even care that all of the other kids were older and half a head taller than me. I was just excited to be practicing baseball. Even better, Coach Minerhad invited me personally! I was probably only part of that camp for a few weeks, but Coach Miner still looms large in my memory.


Looking back, I think that was the first time a baseball coach changed my life—but it definitely wasn’t the last. When I heard January was National Mentoring Month, I immediately thought it should be called National Coaching Month instead.

Coaches give up their time (often for free) to mentor kids and teach them skills. In the process, they create a family the kid can turn to if things get bad at home. That’s not a small thing! Sports don’t have the same level of significance for every kid, but for a lot of them, a good coach can make or break the athlete and even the person they become.

Some of my best memories happened on the baseball field. My passion for the game started with my dad. He coached me in Little League along with his assistant coach,Wayne Santo. Dad will always be my No. 1 hero, but when I turned 13 I was lucky enough to land another set of great coaches:Mitch Louda and Paul Hoines. They werelocal legends! Under them, our All-Star team had an amazing summer. We beat the North Carolina, Tennessee, and Florida state champions! If we hadn’t lost to Alabama,we would have gone on to play in the World Series for our age group. I’m still buddies with the guys from the All-Stars, and we talk about that summer all the time.

Mitch Louda and Paul Hoines were two of a long string of fantastic coaches, including George Moore, Ron VanDeventer, Vito Mennoa, and Steve Larsen. I still look up to all of my coaches—especially my dad—and I know I’m not the only one. When my dad passed after more than 20 years of coaching, his funeral was so packed with players that it was like standing in a Garth Brooks concert. Grown men showed up holding their Little League hats, ready to tell stories about their time on his team.

It was the same deal when Coach Santo, my dad’s assistant coach, passed. When I heard he was sick with cancer, I sent him a message thanking him for everything he’d done for me. It started, “Hey Coach, this is Timmy''—and at Santo’s funeral, his son told me he looked up from my message smiling and said, “He called me coach!” Turns out knowing he was still worthy of the title meant more than anything else I wrote.

I’ve helped coach my son’s baseball team now, and I know the job isn’t easy. Still, I take it seriously, because I know I’m probably having a real effect on the kids. For some,I’m a blip on the radar. For others, I could be a Coach Miner.

If you came up playing sports, do me a favor during National Mentor Month and thank your coach. I bet they’ll remember you well.


Born and raised in Southwest Florida, I have been in the Mortgage business since 2001 I'm a grizzly, battle tested mortgage veteran. I am also the Host of Rates & Reels, which is the most popular fishing show in Southwest Florida, hosted by a guy named Tim. In my spare time I love spending time with my family, coaching baseball, and anything else my kids or wife want me to do. I would be happy to help you or someone you know with any of your Mortgage needs.

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