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Sweet to guide Lakers once againPosted Wednesday, April 7, 2010, at 9:09 PM
Shakamak's Chip Sweet is all smiles after being doused earlier in his career after winning a tournament baseball game.
Sweet's 2006 squad finished with 24 wins, giving him 267 to go with 137 losses in a varsity coaching career that dated back to the spring of 1991, when after several years as an assistant coach he replaced Herschell Allen.
"There were other things that I wanted to do," said the 53-year old Sweet of stepping down. "I really thought that I was finished with coaching at the high school level."
But all of that changed when his former assistant Matt Fougerousse resigned after coaching the Lakers the past three seasons, including winning a Class A state championship in 2008.
"In no way shape or form did I want any part of the job again," said Sweet, who teaches fifth grade at Shakamak and has been helping out in youth baseball since he stepped down. "I really did not want to do it.
"But once coach Fougerousse decided to resign, a lot of people, administrators and people and I know came and asked me to take over."
Sweet said it was not an easy choice to come back.
"I sat down and talked it over with my wife Pam and our two children that still live at home," he said. "It was a difficult decision to jump back into it.
"I know how hard it is. It is really difficult to coach and teach."
Sweet said a lot of people thought he returned to coaching just because of his son Luke, who is in the eighth grade. He said they are only partially right.
"When it came down to it, I wanted my son and others to have the same opportunity that the kids had before them," he said. "I was afraid if I did not take it, the program would go down hill."
During my interview with Sweet, there was a time when he got choked up with emotion and was fighting back tears when talking about Laker Nation.
"I don't know why I get like this," he said. "It was the same way when coach (Steve) Brett talked to me about it in August.
"There was nobody really qualified to step in that wanted to do it. People say that I am doing this because of my son and that is exactly right. I want to make sure he has the chance to play."
Sweet said that he gives everything to his students and will now do the same to baseball again.
"Physically I am not as young as I used to be," he said. "To be honest, at the end of the school day, I am kind of brain dead.
"At the end of the day, you have to go to practice or get the field ready for a game or get on a bus. You have to think about getting the Babe Ruth program. It is not just a spring thing. But I have the support of my family and that is why I decided to do it."
Sweet has always been the point man for getting the field ready for games. Since the Lakers have hosted the sectional in recent seasons, Sweet always prepped the field for tournament games, even those when the Lakers aren't participating.
"I am pretty picky," Sweet said when asked about getting someone else to prepare the field. "I am not a perfectionist, but things never quite get done to suit me.
"I just want to field to be nice for everyone to play on. I learned a long time ago that there is a right way and a wrong way to do things and you might as well do it the right way. That is a lesson that the kids can learn and carry over into their lives."
Sweet and the Lakers are 1-1 with one rain out to begin the 2010 season. He has a roster of nine seniors, which will make his life interesting.
"It really is unprecidented for a school this size to have that many seniors," he said. "Usually by the time kids are seniors, a lot of them have been weeded out.
"But all nine bring something to the table that is positive. But that will make it difficult to fill out a line-up card every day. But it is a good problem to have."
Sweet said he and his roster of 24 players is getting to know each other.
"These seniors were eighth graders when I got out (of coaching), he said. "We are kind of a work in progress.
"They are getting to know me and I am getting to know them. All of our regular season games are really practice games to get ready for the tournament. Our schedule is set up to play a lot of bigger schools so we can learn how to compete. We aren't worried about our won-loss record, but they want to make it back to Victory Field (site of the state title game). My goal is to get better every game and by the end of the tournament, they will go where they want to go."
B.J. Hargis is sports editor of the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (812) 847-4487, ext. 12.
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