Four hundred victories is a pretty impressive milestone for a coach to achieve in any sport.
It pales in comparison, however, to the impact Randy Larrick has had on his players during 22 years (and counting) as head softball coach of the John Glenn Lady Muskies.
Larrick, better known simply as Big Coach, has done so by combining his knowledge of the game he so dearly loves with something a lot of coaches forget about he makes softball fun.
All you have to do is attend one John Glenn softball game and youll realize his ability to do just that has been every bit as important as the Xs and Os of the game in turning the Lady Muskies into one of the most respected and successful teams in the entire Eastern District.
At somewhere around 6 ft. 7, Larrick at first glance is an imposing figure in the third base coachs box, but upon closer inspection, hes more of a gentle giant.
In fact, while everyone calls him Big Coach, his approach to the game is more like that of a big kid and we doubt theres anything in the world hed rather be doing than coaching softball (working in the vegetable garden might rank a close second, however).
Weve also witnessed first-hand having covered the Muskies countless times including both trips to the OHSAA State Tournament (2003 and 2010) that while he gets excited (the understatement of the century) when his girls are victorious, no one takes the losses harder sometimes to the point where hes some overcome by emotion that he has had trouble finding the right words to say.
With Larrick becoming only the 15th coach in OHSAA history to reach the 400-victory milestone (hes now 400-199), who better to describe what hes meant to the players than his long-time trusted assistant Steve Cowgill and some of the girls hes coached.
Hes such a good motivator, Cowgill offered. Hes always positive with the kids and hes more of a teacher than a taskmaster. He exhibits a lot of patiencehes not one to lose faith in them when something bad happens.
He lives and dies with them out there, Cowgill continued. Watching him bounce from third to home when a runner is heading to the plate is worth the price of admission.
Cowgill said Larrick also isnt afraid to buck tradition at times.
He will use a younger player who deserves to play at the varsity level, even over a senior, he said, and you dont see that a lot in high school.
Over the years, Cowgill has heard a couple of phrases uttered countless times by Larrick.
His two staples are believe in yourself and atta baby, he laughed.
His favorite Larrick memory?
It would have to be at the first state semifinal game back in 2003 when we had a runner coming in to score and he went into his war-whoop atta-baby with his arms flailing and he went down right there on the field, Cowgill smiled.
Cowgill, who by the way will bid adieu to his John Glenn assistants post after this season to assume a similar position at Muskingum University, says one of his biggest honors was being asked to present Larrick for induction into the Ohio High School Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association back in 2005.
A few minutes talking with just about any former Lady Muskie and its easy to see how Larrick impacted them.
He was super-easy to play for, said Kelsey Tom Hursey (JGHS Class of 2006). He wants to get the best out of you and hes very enthusiastic and encouraging in doing it.
When you play for him, she added, you want to get out there and do well for him because he works so hard for you. Thats one of the reasons I think his softball program is so successful.
The thing about Big Coach is his excitement makes you want to play for him, echoed Kristyn Heagen (JGHS Class of 2008). Hes one of the best motivatorshe makes you love softball and you know he wants you to succeed.
I still remember in my junior year when I got a hit and Logan (Hursey) scored and he came running over and picked me up right there at first base, Heagen laughed. He hasnt lost any of his passion for the game after all these years and as a player, you can see that.
In college, said the Muskingum University stalwart, its more like your job because youre always being pushed, but he didnt push you like that.you were still allowed to have fun playing the game.
From the standpoint of credentials, Larricks numbers are impressive, but none moreso than the fact that upwards of 20 former Lady Muskies have gone on to play college softball.
Larrick-led John Glenn teams have won:
-10 Muskingum Valley League titles (97, 98, 00, 03, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10);
-12 Division II Sectional crowns (97, 98, 99, 00, 01, 03, 04, 05, 07, 08, 10, 11);
-10 Division II District championships ((97, 98, 99, 00, 03, 04, 05, 07, 10, 11);
- 4 Division II Regional runner-up finishes (97, 04, 05, 07);
- 2 Division II Regional championships (03, 10), leading to two state tournament appearances (JG lost to Mantua Crestwood in the 03 semifinals and to Poland Seminary in 10).
Hes won Coach of the Year honors eight in the MVL and four times in the Eastern District and the 1969 JGHS graduate was inducted into his alma maters Athletic Hall of Fame back in 1999.
Despite all of his success, it doesnt appear Larrick has any plans to hang em up any time soon (we hear the junior high group coming up is an impressive bunch), and to him being around for many years to come, we simply say, Atta baby, Big Coach!
(Jeff Harrison is sports editor of The Daily Jeffersonian. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)