By Zach Carter
It’s finally here. The field is ready, the teams are ready, and the fans are ready. For the players, they have had multiple practices preparing them for this. But for their head coach, Seth Paul, it has been a long time coming.
“I start planning for an upcoming season about six months ahead of time,” Paul says. “‘I start planning out the pre-season schedule and routines.”
Paul, head coach of the Delta High School varsity baseball team, has been coaching for 13 years. This is his 10th year as a head coach.
Baseball is a sport that Paul has known his whole life. He started in tee ball and played all through his childhood. He played varsity level for Cowan High School, then went on to play college baseball at the University of Indianapolis.
Before the season starts, Paul prepares for numerous things.
“I have lots of paperwork and planning that I have to do which includes scheduling gym times and locations,” Paul says. ‘“I will meet with (athletic director) Mr. Zgunda a few times to make sure all procedural things are in order, and then we practice and have a lot of meetings to make sure everyone is moving in the right direction.”
He also meets with the boosters and does fundraisers. Then he orders hats, apparel and uniforms. In addition, he establishes a coaching staff.
When Paul hires an assistant coach or a volunteer coach, his goal is to make sure it’s the right person.
“I’m looking for someone with playing experience at some level, preferably at least varsity high school level,” he says. “‘In the past, most of our coaches have had college experience of playing or being around coaches.”
He also likes people who are responsible, good with kids, and have values similar to the team.
After all of this, it’s time for the first week of the season.
“The first week of official practice is when our season officially starts, and the first task every year is tryouts and establishing who is on what team,” Paul says. ‘“This is a tedious process and involves myself and my whole coaching staff in making these tough decisions.”
After the teams are constructed, Paul has a meeting with parents and opens a line of communication among athletes, parents and coaches. Then, it’s time to play ball.
“Going into the first game I feel excitement,” he says. “‘There are months of planning and several hours of meetings that go into getting a team on the field for the first time, and when that process finally happens it’s very exciting because you get to see all of your hard work finally paying off in a format that is visible to everyone.”
Since last season was canceled due to the pandemic, Paul says there will be “some nerves” going into the first game this year against Yorktown on April 3.
With handling a baseball program, there are stressful parts during the season. Paul says transportation is one.
“The most stressful thing for me during the season is trying to deal with transportation for two programs,” he says. “‘With baseball there are a lot of cancellations and it seems like I am constantly trying to figure out transportation or busses for our games and rescheduled games.”
In Indiana, everyone qualifies the postseason playoffs. For Paul, this changes some things.
“I think when that time comes there’s always a new level of anticipation and excitement because you want to win and you want to keep playing as long as possible to give the athletes the best experience possible,” he says.
When the season comes to a close, Paul thinks about a few things.
“Once the season ends I always feel a little bit of sadness because this group you have worked with for several months just immediately separates in some form and will never be all together again, and it’s just a very odd moment on that last day when you know you’re with 30-35 people who may never all be together in this way again,” Paul says. ‘“I also feel some exhaustion as the season usually is very stressful and time consuming, but the adrenaline from the competitions carry you through.”
Paul says he spends about 60 percent of his time during the spring on the team vs. other things.
“I really try hard to have a good work/life balance so that when I am home with my family I am present and actually engaged with my family,” he says. “‘It’s definitely a challenge at times, but I think I have done a good job at keeping that balance over the years.”
Paul’s brother, Charles Paul, says that his brother has always been devoted to baseball.
“When he was younger, I think he probably hit at least a thousand World Series winning home runs in the backyard,” Charles says. ‘“From early spring until late fall, he was in the backyard with his glove, a ball, and our pitch-back machine, wearing out the grass.”
Charles also says that Paul is good at keeping his family “Priority One.” But during the season, his team becomes “One-A.”
For Paul, his coaching season started months ago. Now, it’s time to play ball.