THURSDAY, February 11, 2016
Metcalf finds successful balance
Source: YourObserver.com published by Jen Blanco, Sports Editor
Clyde Metcalf doesn’t have a favorite team. Rather, the longtime Sarasota baseball coach has 35 favorite teams.
Every team Metcalf has coached has its own special place in his coaching Rolodex.
There are those teams that stand out, like the 1984 team that reached the state semifinals during his third year of coaching.
There are those teams that have surprised the coach with their perseverance, like last year’s squad that finished as the Class 7A state runner-up after finishing the regular season 14-11.
And of course, there are the six state championship teams, two of which went on to win national championships.
Instead, Metcalf has a different favorite team every year. With each new season, he focuses his energy on that year's team to help them reach their full potential.
“I think that’s how you stay consistently successful in a program,” Metcalf said. “Whenever a year ends, you take away lessons, figuring out what worked and didn’t work, and then you put that year behind you.”
Coming off a season in which his players landed in the state championship game, Metcalf is now in his 35th season at the helm. The Sailors have one of their most talented teams in recent memory both defensively and at the plate. Their only weakness is their depth on the mound, a situation Metcalf believes Sarasota should be able overcome as the season progresses.
"We still need to develop some depth, and if that happens then its going to be a very exciting year," Metcalf said. "We have the potential to be better than a lot of the clubs we’ve had.”
The Sailors’ success this season hinges in large part on how well they heed their coach’s advice.
Every year before season starts, Metcalf tells players it's not a privilege to play baseball for Sarasota but a privilege to practice on the Sarasota field as a Sarasota Sailor.
Cody Brickhouse, a 2015 graduate who signed with the San Francisco Giants, recalls sitting in the weight room listening to Metcalf talk about the importance of making every day count.
“He said that every day you don't give 100% is a day that you will never get back, and there's always someone else out there working to beat you,” Brickhouse said. "It made me realize that as baseball players we get one chance to make our dreams come true and because of that piece of advice, I personally will never look back one day and tell myself that I could've worked harder.”
Metcalf begins every practice with a plan, which he carries with him on a clipboard. The players carry out the plan on the field and continue to do so until they get it right.
“He pushes you to the limit,” said senior Andrew Jones, who signed with Florida Atlantic University. “He wants you to be the best that you can be, and you need to earn respect by playing and working hard.”
It’s Metcalf’s disciplined and structured approach to coaching coupled with his belief in the value of teamwork that has made him one of high school baseball’s most decorated coaches and consistently has Sarasota ranked among the nation’s elite.
“It’s a very gratifying job,” Metcalf said of coaching. “You get to be around kids as they grow over a four-year period, which is great. You become a part of their life and remain a part of their life.”
A former pitcher and first baseman for Sarasota, Metcalf was finishing his degree in physical education at Florida State University when he got an unexpected opportunity.
The baseball coach at Leon High at the time was involved in an accident, and Metcalf was asked to take over the Lions program until their coach could return. Metcalf, then just 20, coached the first 25 games of the season and fell in love with coaching.
“The Leon gig hooked me,” Metcalf said. “It put me into a leadership role and to be able to get young people to listen and work hard was something I could see myself doing. It sold me.”
Metcalf returned to Sarasota in 1976 and landed a job as the JV coach at Riverview. The opportunity was one he couldn’t pass up — even if it meant donning the signature maroon and white colors of his longtime rival.
When the two rival schools met, Metcalf would toss his best pitcher, whom he had saved specifically for the occasion, because, at the time, he was no longer a Sailor. He was a Ram.
“I wanted to beat Sarasota more than any other team,” Metcalf said. “It’s your rival. It’s who you want to beat.”
Metcalf spent six seasons coaching the Rams before returning home to his alma mater in 1982.
In addition to his six state championship teams, he has 67 players go on to play professionally and won more than 20 coach of the year awards, including the 2015 American Baseball Coaches Association High School Coach of the Year award.
But for Metcalf, coaching isn’t about how many awards you’ve won, records you’ve set or championship rings you have.
“It feels good when players come back and talk to you about how they’ve taken the lessons they’ve learned from baseball and turned that into an every day success story," Metcalf said.
"The relationships he develops with players go beyond the baseball field," said Trevor Jones, Andrew Jones' father and the team's webmaster. "He gets to know them on a personal level and for many these relationships will last their lifetime."
When Clyde Metcalf is on the field, it’s business as usual, but when practice or a game ends, Metcalf leaves baseball behind and focuses on his family.
He enjoys long walks along the Ringling Bridge with his wife, Jan, and playing with his three grandchildren. Metcalf also enjoys playing golf in the summer and hopes to start fishing again once the season ends.
“That’s one trait coaches who have longevity in this business have to have because if you don’t, it’ll eat you up,” Metcalf said. “You have to have the ability to leave it behind.”
Metcalf retired from teaching following the 2014-15 school year. He loved teaching up until the very last day — something he hopes holds true with coaching.
Metcalf plans to continue coaching as long as he connects with players and he has the energy to do it.
“As long as those two things happen, then I’ll keep coaching,” Metcalf said. “When the time comes for me to quit, I’ll leave with no regrets.”
1982 — Metcalf coached his first game at Sarasota, which resulted in a 3-2 loss to Tampa Catholic.
April 14, 1985 — Sarasota defeated Ocala Vanguard 14-5 to give Metcalf his 100th career win.
1987 — Sarasota overcame a deficit to beat Miami Southridge 9-8 to give Metcalf his first state championship.
1989 — Metcalf was named the National Prep Coach of the Year after leading Sarasota to 9-0 victory versus Jacksonville Sandalwood in the state championship.
1993 — Metcalf won his third state championship with a 4-1 victory against Wellington.
1994 — Metcalf was named both the USA Today Coach of the Year and the National High School Coaches Association Coach of the Year after Sarasota won its second-consecutive state title.
1996 — Sarasota defeated Terry Parker 2-1 in the state championship.
2005 — Metcalf was named the SASA Sportsman of the Year.
2006 — Metcalf was named the Class 6A Coach of the Year.
2007 — Sarasota defeated Deland 1-0 to give Metcalf his sixth and most recent state championship.
2009 — Metcalf was inducted into the Florida Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
April 5, 2014 — Metcalf recorded his 800th career win.
2015 — Metcalf was named the American Baseball Coaches Association High School Division I Coach of the Year.