As I write this blog, I’m sitting in my hotel in Riverton, WY, with my Dad. He and I are on our annual trip, and this is our 8thyear. We started off doing Civil War history trips, but this year we decided to do some bucket list trips for both of us, including a train trip out west to Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota. On our second day, we traveled to the Field of Dreams movie site in Dyersville, IA. It wasn’t easy to get there and there’s not much to see, but it was SO worth it. We shot some cool videos of us walking in and out of the cornfield and each of us pitching from the mound. Amazing memories, but this blog is not about our trip – it’s about legacy, impact and a simple word that means so much more—Coach!

After my Dad left his first career in Major League Baseball, he went into business and eventually bought the business he had worked for, which he owned and ran for many, many years. However, his passion for baseball never left him, and in 1975 he became the head baseball coach at Wright State University (the third coach in school history, in only their 5thseason). Fast forward 30 years and you’ll see that this coaching position was more than a job (a supposed part time job while he ran his business), more than a career, more than a hobby – it was a calling. Over those 30 years, Dad’s Wright State teams went from Division II to Division I and won 866 games, and Dad was inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2007 (he proudly wears that ring every day). As if he didn’t have enough to do, Dad also founded Ohio Business Week, a week-long residential business and entrepreneurship camp for high school students in Ohio.

When I posted the videos from Field of Dreams Field, there were hundreds of comments posted, many by men who played baseball for Dad at Wright State and people who worked with him over the years. Here are just a few of the comments:

“Tell coach I said hi. Great man, not many better. Was always there for me.”

“Great for you Nisch. Very happy for you. You are a great coach.”

“This is awesome,great man.”

“Your dad is one of the nicest people I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet.”

“Awesome. One of my heroes.”

There’s that word – coach. Most of Dad’s former players refer to him as Coach or Coach Nisch, and it’s more than just a word. It’s a sign of respect and a label that was earned by caring for his players, mentoring them, supporting them, and growing them as young men, not just as baseball players.

In fact, one of his former players from the 1980’s has arranged for Dad to throw out the first pitch at the July 6thIndians game as a small way of saying thank you and honoring him. There will be dozens of people there to watch it, and many of them will be former players who are traveling to Cleveland from great distances to honor Coach.

Dad has done the same thing (coach, mentor, support and grow) in so many different ways throughout his life, whether it be at Wright State, through Ohio Business Week, as a Sunday School teacher, as the Youth Fellowship advisor at church, as a board member, as an employer and business owner, as a friend, or as a father. Make no mistake – Dad is not perfect and he’d be the first one to tell you so, but he has dedicated his life after professional baseball to coaching, mentoring and supporting, and that’s a legacy of impact.

Tomorrow (July 1) is my Dad’s birthday, and we’ll celebrate together here in Wyoming at Yellowstone National Park. I’ll be sharing the day with my Dad, because he was never Coach to me. I guess that’s the difference between playing for Dad and being his son. But in a way he was still a coach to me, just not in the traditional sense. Dad wasn’t around much for my sports, although he was always ready to coach me at home or to offer advice. More important have been the ways that he’s shown up and supported me during my adult life.

Without fanfare or recognition, Dad has always believed in me, supported me and had my back, even when I made some big mistakes and poor choices in my life. He’s always been there to bounce questions off of, and he’s always celebrated my experiences and rejoiced when he hears about a business success or a personal adventure. I didn’t always notice or recognize this support, but it was always there, and I now understand not only the many ways Dad supported me but the even greater ways he made sacrifices over the years for the family.

How about that legacy? Thousands of people have been touched or impacted by Dad because he cared, because he mentored, because he supported, because he believed in, and because he helped people grow. Perhaps that’s the true definition of the word coach, and that’s an opportunity for all of us. We all have opportunities every day to mentor, support, believe in and help people grow, whether it’s at work, with children, with family or with friends, and this is the way that each of you can create a legacy of impact.

When I think about my Dad’s legacy, it can be summed up in one word – Coach. Not bad, that word, that legacy, that impact. Here’s to the coach in you and to all the lives you will touch from this day forward. And to Dad: thanks for the lessons, Coach!

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  1. This is awesome!! So well written and inspiring!

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