In this feature titled “Coaches Corner”, I will be interviewing a different coach every week and asking them questions about their personal life and about coaching. Hopefully their answers will not only shed some light on how they coach their respective teams, but also allow readers to get to know the men behind the fields/courts.
This week features head baseball coach Mike Kirkwood of the Neshannock Lancers. Coach Kirkwood jus wrapped up his 14th season as head coach of the Lancers. In his tenure as coach, he has only finished under .500 once and has led his team to 6 WPIAL championship games, winning four of them. He has also captured PIAA gold twice in 2004 and 2015. Let’s take a look inside Coach Kirkwood’s corner:
1. What are some of your pet peeves?
2. What is your favorite TV show?
3. Who do you look up to the most?
Kids with disabilities
4. Who was your favorite sports player growing up and why?
Jack Lambert. He was so competitive!
5. What is your favorite quote?
“It’s not the will to win, but the will to prepare to win!”
6. Describe your dream vacation.
On any beach with my family, music, and a cooler!
7. What is the most important thing you try to preach to your players every year?
This is your team, not mine. How will you guys be remembered?
8. How can you explain the immense success you have had at Neshannock, as you have finished every year, except one, with a winning record?
Preparation, Coaches, and the facilities.
9. What is your proudest moment as a high school baseball coach?
When former players come back just to say hi, and see how I am doing.
10. What was similar between your 2004 and 2015 teams, who both won WPIAL and PIAA gold?
The team was more important than individual success.
11. What was your most embarrassing moment as a high school baseball coach?
Never had one, I’m hard to embarrass.
12. You have made the playoffs 11 of your 14 seasons. Not only are your teams successful, but they are doing so at such a high level. What is the secret for such consistency?
Work ethic and accountability towards each other.
13. How did you decide you wanted to coach baseball?
Baseball was a sport that I felt I could make players better at baseball and at life.
14. In 2015, your team was led by Frankie Fraschetti on the mound. What was it like to coach a player with such talent like that?
It was a blessing. When you have a great player and he is one of your hardest workers, it makes coaching easy.
15. How important has your family been throughout your coaching career?
They have been very supportive! I also coach high school golf and junior high basketball. When I get involved in something, I devote a lot of time in making the program better than when I found it. Our practices are 3 to 4 hours a day and, at times, longer. So you have to have a wife that understands.