“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” – Jackie Robinson
In doing research for the blog post I published earlier today, I asked people on Facebook and Twitter to name a coach that had impacted them positively and why/how. I got a lot of responses, but one stood out to me that I felt deserved its own space.
I’ve known Nate Snyder for several years, either coaching against him or watching him progress through the Bluegrass Baseball system. He always struck me as a really kind young man, a talented ballplayer, and a kid that I wished I’d had a chance to coach. The words that he sent me about a coach that influenced his life positively only helped to solidify what I thought I knew about him.
On May 27th, 2009, Beechwood and Covington Catholic squared off in the 9th Region Championship game. Just one week prior, Cov Cath had beaten Beechwood in the 35th District Championship by a score of 10-0 (5 innings). This time, however, things would be different. Nate took the hill and Beechwood won 3-1, securing the 9th Region title and moving on to the state tournament. Nate credits his success in this game, in his playing career, and in life to the coach that impacted him the most. Here’s how it all played out in his words.
When most people think of Bob Myerhoff, they think of hardnosed, “my way or the highway” type of coaching. I see him in a different perspective. My father had passed when I was at a young age (7th grade). For many years, I had been looking for somebody to look up to. I finally found that in my uncle (mother’s brother), but after months of bonding and looking up to him, he was tragically killed in a freak accident. Now, I needed somebody to give me insight toward my life, and my sophomore year in high school I had the pleasure to play under that person. Coach Myerhoff became the role model I had always wanted and needed.
As the only son of three children, my mother was constantly running around doing volleyball with my sisters and trying to maintain a family. She was only able to be at my games on select occasions because there wasn’t enough time to go to two volleyball games and a baseball game all in one day. I’m not saying my mother was never there, but I knew I had to cut her some slack for juggling a family by herself and maintaining a roof over our heads. Baseball was my distraction and safe place from what had been going on in the world.
Coach Myerhoff was the man to finally push me to do more and was always there when I needed help. I was never fully pushed to reach my potential because people saw me as a kid who didn’t have a father, so they were afraid to yell at me, thinking I’d crumble and fall. Coach Myerhoff taught me that life doesn’t make excuses for you not to be your best. He was always there leading me to become a better person. That entire season, we were struggling to find a catcher. I kept joking with him that I could do it, and based on the trust that we had developed, he gave me the opportunity. We were a young team led by three seniors and one junior, and he kept teaching us a one game at a time mentality throughout the season. At one point, he pulled me aside and said I needed to improve (in a Myerhoff tone, so it wasn’t as pleasant as it sounded…ha ha). But, he challenged me and then changed the line up around putting me in the 4-hole (the 6’3″ 160 pound pitcher-only from last year). He told me that he put me in the 4-hole due to my hard work and progress, but I wouldn’t be there long if somebody stepped up. I took that as a challenge, accepted it, and the result was me remaining at the heart of the order because he challenged me.
People saw that game versus Cov Cath as a fluke, but I will always treat it as a reward to Coach Myerhoff, and all I wanted to do was make him proud of the man I had become due to him.
He taught me so many things in life, a list that is nearly never-ending; discipline, leadership, work ethic among many, many things. He is the reason why I want to pursue a coaching career. I want to have that type of impact on lives. It’s more than just a sport to me, and he is more than just a coach to me. The reason I want people to read this is to show people how great of a man Bob Myerhoff is.
– Nathan Snyder