Steel Valley's Vickers earns Daily News Coach of Year
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Over the last seven years, Tim Vickers has been slowly selling his Steel Valley players on the fact they could become one of the better teams in the WPIAL.
It was a difficult chore for an Ironmen program that only had achieved limited success in nearly two decades. But it took only a few seconds for Vickers to point out the exact moment when his team went from skeptics to vested buyers.
“Early in the season, we had a game against Greensburg Central Catholic where we were down by a lot of runs early, and we battled, and battled and battled,” Vickers said. “It was a Friday night game, and I don't think I got home until like 8:30 p.m. that night and ... a win that early in the season against a team of that caliber that was picked to go to the championship game, I think that gave our team the confidence they could play with anybody.”
Steel Valley fell behind, 9-3, after two innings and 12-5 after four on the Centurions home field but came up with 10 runs in the sixth and seventh innings to pull out a shocking, 17-16, win over a section title contender. Propelled by that April 5 victory, the Ironmen swept Greensburg Central Catholic and perennial thorn in the team's side Shade Side Academy.
Those four wins helped Steel Valley to a 10-2 record in Section 4, which locked up a spot in the WPIAL Class AA playoffs and was good enough for the Ironmen to take their first outright section title since 1994. With that kind of rare success, it's easy to see why Vickers is the 2013 Daily News Baseball Coach of the Year.
“It feels good to know that somebody other than the players and the community recognizes all the work you put in,” Vickers said. “Personally, I work very hard, and it doesn't stop when the playoffs are over, but it's the players that work the hardest out of everyone involved and deserve this honor because I didn't throw a pitch or hit a ball.”
Though the come-from-behind win over Greensburg Central Catholic was the catalyst for Steel Valley's success, the true belief came a couple of weeks later when the Ironmen went on the road and rolled over Shady Side Academy, 9-2. Prior to that, the Ironmen lost all eight games to the Indians since dropping into Class AA in 2009.
“Whether it was an individual player or just the name on the uniform, we hadn't beaten them in a very long time,” Vickers said. “It was that win right there that it what told them that this could be our year.”
For a time, it was. Steel Valley not only won the section but went into the WPIAL Class AA playoffs as the No. 6 seed. Unfortunately, the Ironmen's dream of winning the school's first title didn't last long after they couldn't hold an early 5-2 lead against Chartiers-Houston in a 7-5 opening-round playoff loss.
That loss, though, made the players buy even more into what Vickers was selling them.
“They're already working,” Vickers said. “We had a talk on the bus after the playoff loss about what each individual and coach needed to do to get better for next year. A lot of them are convinced, and so they're already working on physical conditioning and getting stronger.”
Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @KBarnes_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.