Inside Pitch Magazine, November/December 2021

Last Inning: Changing Seasons

by Justin Brown

Photo of the back of a coach's hat & jersey as he stares out towards a crowd of peopleThere’s nothing quite like the beginning of a season for a coach. Months of training leading to an opportunity to test our team. New contributors emerging, returning talent giving a little bit of experienced confidence. The crispness of the spring air, the pregame jitters, all because we are about to embark on a new journey. A new season.

In my near-decade of coaching college baseball, there’s nothing quite like beginning a new season and the end of a season. Coaches also know what it feels like for a season to close. Some seasons our teams limp to the finish line. Other seasons there are tremendous thrills of walk-offs and come from behind wins in a playoff run. Seasons open and seasons close. That’s the beauty of baseball and life - seasons. 

In March 2020 a season of my professional life came to a close suddenly, unexpectedly and in a very confusing fashion. If you’ve been in the coaching profession for long you’ve likely experienced some of the same dynamics. Seasons closing, transitioning and changing. With COVID-19 shutting down the remainder of our college season, I did not realize at the time it would be the last time I wore a baseball uniform in a dugout. A season of my life centered on baseball that started young and thankfully stuck with me well into adulthood all because of the coaching profession, came to a close. Like many in the last 24 months, I decided to leave the baseball coaching profession. I’ve talked with many coaches who have struggled with the same possible transition. Maybe you’re reading this and navigating some of the same challenges. One thing that has helped is the view of life in the form of seasons. 

For coaches, some seasons closing are welcomed. It may be time to turn the page on the roster, shake things up with the staff. The closing of a season allows for that reevaluation process before moving forward. Not all professions and industries have a definitive start and stop. Embracing the ebb and flow of seasons is the mark of a great coach and leader. Coaches are fortunate to have the seasonal cadence to their work life. 

In January 2021 my first book was published titled Stay The Course: Five Transformational Principles of Leaders Who Last. With the launch of the book, a new season has emerged in my life. A season of writing, coaching, and serving leaders. The book has been shared with leaders and coaches in athletics, business, ministry and education. In it I uncover the journey of many successful leaders in athletics. What I found in my research is their story looked a lot similar to many of the coaches I’ve met in baseball. Small beginnings, slow starts, delays, setbacks, change, playing the long game, working in obscurity. Sixteen leaders in athletics who model transformational leadership and how to navigate the ups and downs, twists and turns, and seasons of life. 

I’ve found that for many great coaches the journey is what developed them. The changing of the seasons is where the rubber hits the road as a coach and leader in life. You may be on the verge of a new season. My charge to you is to stay the course. 

Inside Pitch Magazine is published six times per year by the American Baseball Coaches Association, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt association founded in 1945. Copyright American Baseball Coaches Association. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any way without prior written permission. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained herein, it is impossible to make such a guarantee. The opinions expressed herein are those of the writers.