Veteran OVUHS baseball coach steps down
BRANDON — It’s the end of an era for Otter Valley Union High School baseball as varsity head coach Tim Mitchell announced his retirement last week.
Mitchell, who led the Otters to a state championship in 2013 after a 37-year drought, said this past Monday that the demands of his business and his family led to his decision.
“I’m tired of being tired,” he said. “My number one commitment was to the baseball community and my number two commitment was to my family, and it should have been family first. Between the field, the team, work and family, it doesn’t leave a lot of free time.”
Mitchell also said that his business, Mitchell’s Screen Printing & Embroidery in Pittsford, has gotten so busy that he needs the extra time to devote to steering that ship as well. He said that in the last two years, the business has grown from 10-12 employees to 21 currently on the payroll. He credits the rebounding post-recession economy, but adds that former Pittsford competitor Keith’s II moving to Rutland City last year also boosted his sales.
“It’s amazing the people that want to keep their money local,” he said.
Mitchell has coached the OV varsity baseball team for four years, with one-year stints on seventh grade, eighth grade and junior varsity prior to that. Basically, he coached many of his 2013 championship team players from seventh grade all the way through graduation.
The Otters won back-to-back Marble Valley League Division II Championships under Mitchell, who was also voted Marble Valley League Coach of the Year two years running. His varsity record was 7-10 in 2011, 13-6 in 2012, 19-1 in 2013, and 10-8 this past spring for a 46-28 varsity record.
But Mitchell was also instrumental in raising the funds and the volunteer labor necessary to transform the Otter baseball field into one of the top five diamonds in the state in 2012-13, as well as securing a new scoreboard donated by Omya. Mitchell and a hardy group of volunteers have spent hundreds of hours reworking the soil and putting down new sod, not to mention the hours of raking, mowing and watering needed to keep the field in top shape. That won’t change, Mitchell said.
“I told (OV Athletic Director) Steve Keith, I’m not done, I’m just stepping aside from coaching,” Mitchell said. “I’ll still keep working on that field. I still bleed OV blue, but at what point do you say, ‘It’s time’? I’m not looking for a record. I’m more than happy with the record we’ve had.”
That was the thing about Mitchell’s coaching career at OV, there was no season for him. Between the field, the players and the baseball games, it was 365 days a year.
“For me, it was never March to June,” he said. “Between fundraising and batting practice and the field, it was far from four months a year.”
Keith said Mitchell changed the entire OV baseball program for the better, and he will be missed.
“Tim was instrumental in creating a culture of success around the baseball program and it worked its way all the way down to the middle school level,” Keith said. “He will be missed by the Otter Valley baseball program. He was energetic, enthusiastic, and extremely knowledgeable about baseball. More importantly, he was dedicated to improving the Otter Valley program and all of those involved in it. We wish Tim the best as he moves on to future ventures.”
As for the future of the OV baseball program, Mitchell said he has discussed the head coaching job with JV coach Mike Howe, who he said is considering applying for the job. He also mentioned that without Assistant Coach Kevin Bedard, he could not have enjoyed the success he did as head coach.
“We like to say the foundation has been set and we’re just going to keep building,” Mitchell said confidently. “I wouldn’t retire if I didn’t feel the program was in good hands.”
That said, the coach said next spring will be tough as he readies the field for another baseball season.
“I’ve thought about the pros and cons of this all summer, and there’s no doubt that I’ll be missing it next spring,” he said. “I’m going out with a smile. Everything we do is for the kids, and it’s been an amazing ride.”
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