It was a solemn Monday afternoon on one side of the WKU softball field.
The Barren County Trojanettes' record-setting season had just come to an end in the first round of the 4th Region tournament to a good Franklin-Simpson team. Three stalwart seniors had just played their last game in burgundy and gold. Tears were shed, hugs were given, and coaches, teammates and parents shared heartfelt goodbyes as one of the last sports played during the school year concluded.
I waited near the dugout for Barren County coach Daryl Murphy to finish with his team. One of the hardest parts about covering a sport is interviewing players or coaches after a tough loss, and there's no defeat worse than the one that ends your season. And it had been a really good season for Barren County.
But Murphy came straight over to me after he finished with his players and shook my hand. He thanked me for coming to the game, as he has every time I've interviewed him, and he proceeded to answer every question asked without offering any excuses for the outcome.
As a man who has been kicked out of multiple slow-pitch softball games, I can tell you I wish I had Murphy's calm demeanor when it comes to dealing with a situation that didn't work out the way you had it planned. I'm sure his players would chuckle at the idea of Murphy being soft-spoken, but he's always been the definition of professionalism in any dealings I've had with him while working at the Daily Times.
And Murphy is not an exception. Southcentral Kentucky is blessed with men and women coaches who are exemplary leaders and good examples for our youth.
Last week, I interviewed Glasgow coach Steven Murphy after the Lady Scotties were eliminated from the District 15 softball tournament. His senior daughter, Taylor, had just played her last game. Murphy answered my questions and credited Barren County for their win.
I've sat through press conferences after our local teams were eliminated from district or region basketball tournaments, and I can't tell you of any occasion where the coaches were anything but polite despite some of the questions they received.
Football, soccer and golf — I've had the pleasure of covering just about all of them over the past four years, and I've yet to have a bad experience with any of our coaches.
Now I'm not suggesting these coaches don't get angry or frustrated, but I've been impressed by how they are able to stand up in the spotlight whether it's in victory or defeat. They are cautiously optimistic after a win, and they're overly critical of themselves after a loss.
Years from now, current high schoolers will be telling stories about their coaches. Some will be good, and some will be bad. I remember some coaches I had that allowed the parents to decide who played, and who were more interested in proving their dominance than they were improving the skills of young men and women. But I also remember the really good coaches — the ones that helped teach me that sports are important, but our character is what really counts.
It's not easy to be a coach. Some are better at it than others, but there's only so much you can do from the sidelines. You can't make a shot, or tackle a running back, or catch a fly ball. You can prepare your team to the best of your ability and still see them fail to execute. On the other side of the token, you can be a very mediocre coach and still win a lot of games because you're blessed with great talent on your roster.
But what coaches can control is their attitude.
Give our local coaches some credit. Coaching high school sports is a year-round job. We're lucky to have quality men and women who want to lead and be great examples, and that affects the futures of kids more than winning any title.
Suddeath is the editor of the Glasgow Daily Times. Reach him at 270-678-5171, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @DsuddeathGDT.