Upon initial inspection, it appears that being a high school softball coach is a pretty easy job.
You simply gather your players for a pregame drill and then the team plays a game. Then you conduct another pregame drill and play another game. Add a few more practices and that’s it.
But in reality, it’s far more complicated and nuanced than that and it’s also very time consuming.
For Mike Delaney, the longtime Burbank High skipper, the job simply demanded too much of his time on and off the field. On Monday, he stepped down from the position.
“I had been mulling this over for a couple of months,” Delaney said of resigning. “I made up my mind two or three weeks ago.”
Delaney informed Burbank principal, Dr. Michael Bertram of his decision a while ago and said he had the full support of Bertram and the entire athletic department staff during his tenure on the clock.
Delaney then added: “It’s been a really time consuming job,” he said after serving as the head coach for six years.
Delaney gathered the team on Monday before exit meetings and told them he would not be back next season.
This is the letter Delaney sent to the players’ parents.
“There are a few reasons that I made this decision. First and foremost the position of head coach had become extremely time consuming off the field,” he wrote. “Resolving and or mediating conflict between boosters and parents regarding fundraising became an almost nightly occurrence with either phone calls, texts or emails.”
The letter continued: “This along with [the] district’s inability to resolve the majority of our [Title IX] concerns, and my concern that neither could be resolved quickly or without a bigger off field time commitment from me were major factors in my decision,” it read. “I could no longer rationalize the amount of time I was taking away from my family.”
Burbank finished 11-13-1 overall this campaign and went 8-6 for fourth place in the Pacific League.
In a CIF Southern Section first-round playoff match on the road, the Bulldogs lost to Pomona Catholic 10-2.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time with each and every team,” Delaney said. “But the job took up too much of my time.”
On most weeks, Delaney and his staff put in no less than 15 hours and as many as 18 hours.
“Now softball is practically a year-round sport,” he pointed out. “It begins in August and runs until the end of the year. When I first started, it began in January and went until the end of the year.”
If one considers travel ball, softball is indeed a year-long sport, but Delaney wasn’t a travel-ball coach.
One point, of the eight league schools, only Burbank and Burroughs don’t have an on-campus softball field and a batting cage.
Still, the Bulldogs were successful despite this under Delaney, making the postseason five of the six seasons.
Delaney, who also coached at Village Christian for nine years, said that core values are an essential lesson the girls will take with them.
“Every year is different and every year is a challenge,” he said. “Teaching the core values was important from the time they were freshmen.”
Delaney added: “I always felt it was a privilege to be the head coach and a huge responsibility to those athletes.”
Delaney said that when he drove home, it hit him that he’s not the coach. “Those are great memories,” he said. “There are some who are part-time players and there are travel-ball players and they want to get to the next level. But to see the joy in each of them is what makes it so rewarding.”
Delaney summarized his feelings: “Every team wants to win, but there is only one team that’s going to win in each division,” he said. “Of course I want them to compete. But having core values is what they’re going to take with them.”