College Softball: Lewis’ George DiMatteo gets 1,000th career coaching victory
By Dick Goss firstname.lastname@example.org April 24, 2013 11:00PM
Lewis' softball coach George DiMatteo
Updated: May 29, 2013 6:45AM
George DiMatteo could not help but think of the grand slam in his coaching life.
“Gordie Gillespie, Tony Delgado, Irish O’Reilly and my wife Deb,” he said with a smile Wednesday after Lewis whipped Wisconsin-Parkside 6-0 in the opener of a Great Lakes Valley Conference doubleheader.
The Flyers (23-11, 17-5) also won the nightcap 4-2, extending their winning streak to seven, as Lauren Hanford (Morris) belted her second three-run homer on a career day when she drove in eight.
But the focus was on DiMatteo, who in Game 1 earned win No. 1,000 in his 30-year coaching career.
“Gordie and Tony were my baseball coaches here (when Lewis won three straight NAIA national titles from 1974 to ’76),” said DiMatteo, an All-American center fielder who played two years in the Cubs organization. “They got me thinking about coaching, showed me what it means to be a coach.
“Irish hired me to be his baseball assistant in 1983 and worked with me, and my wife (a former national champion softball coach at College of DuPage), her record stands alone. She helped me learn about coaching women. She was pregnant and couldn’t do both sports, and that’s when I took over the softball team here in 1984.”
DiMatteo complimented the four athletic directors he has coached under — Paul Ruddy, Paul Zakowski, Dan Schumacher and current AD Dr. John Planek — and the tight Lewis family.
“It doesn’t matter what you coach, the staff here is closely knit,” he said. “The coaches in all sports very much care about each other.”
So for more reasons than 1,000, DiMatteo called Wednesday “a very nice day. I’m very appreciative and humbled. But me winning 1,000 is small compared to the team accomplishments.”
Lewis finished second in the nation in NCAA Division II in 2001 and was at the nationals six straight years, from 2006 through ’11. Just missing last year is a memory DiMatteo would like to erase.
It’s all about team. DiMatteo is excited that the new regional rankings have Lewis up to No. 5.
But on this day, it was about coach and his team.
“George is a great coach, one of the best I ever had,” said Hanford, who, besides the two three-run homers, doubled home the first run of Game 1 and squeezed in the final run of Game 2. “I really believe he has taught me to be a better player these last four years.
“I’m glad he got 1,000. We were getting anxious for it to happen. He’s just a good guy.”
Right-hander Kelly Bowler (Lockport) threw a one-hitter in the historic opener.
“It was really exciting to have had the chance to pitch this game,” she said. “We all knew how close it was getting. He’s an amazing coach. He’s one of the most knowledgeable coaches I’ve had.”
DiMatteo said it’s the players, not coaches, who win games. Regardless of where the credit belongs, 1,000 screams one special career.
Ali Brems went the distance to win Game 2, after which the Flyers enjoyed cake and cookies with their coach.
The trek to DiMatteo’s next 1,000 has begun.