College Baseball: St. Xavier looks to send coach Mike Dooley out on high note
By Tim O’Brien For Sun-Times Media March 10, 2014 8:40PM
Updated: April 12, 2014 6:17AM
Mike Dooley simply knew it was time.
Heading into his 22nd season as head coach at St. Xavier, Dooley decided the 2013-2014 season would be his last in the dugout for the Cougars.
The longtime coach will step down after the season, with his assistant Rocco Mossuto, taking over in 2015.
“I’ll be 65 in June, and in coaching age, that’s up there,” Dooley said with a laugh. “I always had a target date in mind, but it was just the right time in my life. I’ve been coaching for 42 years, and I had a good run. It wasn’t a rash decision. It’s time to retire.”
Since taking over the reins for the program in 1993, Dooley has compiled a 762-454-3 record entering the 2014 season, winning five coach of the year awards.
Dooley broke the news about his impending retirement to his players in the fall.
“We kind of were expecting it, figuring this would be the last season,” senior outfielder Brad Myjak (Mount Carmel) said. “He made sure that this year wasn’t about playing for him, but playing for us (as a team). We definitely do want to help end his career on a high note.”
The Cougars will be gunning for their first NAIA Tournament appearance since 2009.
Dooley’s last team has just five seniors on the roster. A strong returning core and a talented freshman class should provide a good mix.
Among the players, though, nothing needed to be said. For themselves and for the coach, the mind-set is there: wins, wins and more wins.
“It’s just kind of an unspoken thing we have as a team,” sophomore outfielder Jim Augle (Richards) said. “We’re going to work hard, hard as we can, and do all we can for coach Dooley. We definitely think we have a good shot at winning the conference tournament, getting to the national tournament and go from there.”
For Dooley, there are no butterflies, no regrets about the decision.
“Everyone can be apprehensive about what the future holds, but no, it doesn’t feel weird,” Dooley said. “Nothing goes on forever and planning this in advance, it makes it easier. We can just concentrate on baseball. It will be the last run, and I’m going to enjoy it.”
That said, Dooley did make one request. He wants nothing to do with a farewell tour, a la Mariano Rivera or Derek Jeter. He just wants the team to play baseball.
“I told everyone, ‘Do it after the year,’ ” Dooley said with a laugh. “I’d hoped the retirement never becomes a distraction. I just want to coach and worry about the team’s success.”