MARION — Baseball can mean different things to different people.
It could be a sport, an excuse to eat three consecutive hot dogs or a pastime.
To Marion Coach Steve Fish, baseball is a passion that has a lot to teach about life. He believes in finding their love for the sport, his players can learn what it means to be a teammate on and off the field.
Fish has been Marion’s varsity baseball coach for 21 seasons, accumulating nearly 800 wins and is a member of the Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Despite these achievements, Fish maintains humbleness and cooperation are the most important lessons baseball can teach.
“First and foremost, I’d like to see that quiet confidence,” Fish said. “... character and attitude first ... we before me kind of stuff.
“That has to happen, team comes before anything else. Some years, you’ll have some (star) baseball players — that’ll help — but if you have team culture, that’ll carry it every time.”
Developing this “team atmosphere” is the first priority every season.
His team uses the phrase “pass the bat” to emphasize the need for teamwork. The saying reminds players they have to trust one another and do their part to create a team effort, and this effort can do more than the sum of individuals’ independent efforts.
Seniors Austin Prier and Rick Atkins found this cooperation has a place in many settings. “Passing the bat” gets more done in less time, whether that be on the field, at work or in class.
“I use (pass the bat) every day.” Atkins said.
Meanwhile, Fish continues to learn from baseball alongside his players.
“If you’re not learning as you’re going through it, it’s time to quit,” he said.
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Baseball has taught Fish many lessons. He has offered those lessons of modest confidence, cooperation and hard work to his players for 35 years. For the coach and his players, baseball is a simulation of life, albeit with lower stakes — some days.