Herald Journal Columns
March 20, 2006, Herald Journal

Culpepper, dugouts, and coaching

By Aaron Schultz

With the winter season now officially over, I am turning my full attention to other things.

Yes, I am still a big fan of March Madness, and the college basketball and hockey tournaments, but those are pretty much an afterthought right now.

You know, those events that when you get home at night and have a few free minutes, you turn on Sportscenter, or go to the web and catch up with all of the latest action.

At the current time, my main focus, as it will be for the next several months, will be as the head baseball coach at Lester Prairie High School.

I had been the junior varsity coach there for several years, and when Rick Baumann, the former head coach, took a teaching job in Litchfield, I stepped in and became the head coach.

But, more about that later in this column. Right now, I am going to talk about a couple of other things that have captured my attention these past few weeks.

First off, the Vikings’ trade of Dauntee Culpepper – something that I was kind of pushing for.

I am happy that we are finally rid of his whining, fumbling, love boat ways, but I also would have liked it if he would have straightened up, and played for the Vikes.

The guy has all the talent in the world, and always tries hard, but I just didn’t see that championship-type leadership in him.

Anyway, it is all mute now, as he was shipped to Miami for a second-round pick.

Oh well, I guess we will all have to wait and see who ended up getting the better deal in the end.

Moving on to the dugout part of my headline.

The city of Winsted, and the Winsted Wildcats have come together and are putting new dugouts up at Dennis M. Campbell Field in Winsted.

These dugouts will mark the third different kind of dugouts that I have sat in during my time with the Wildcats, and they are looking to be the nicest, as well.

Boy, how far they have come.

I remember in high school in the early ‘90s, sitting in the dugouts and fearing for my life.

See, these old dugouts had nails coming down through the ceiling, and it wasn’t a very high ceiling, either.

If you got too excited, and maybe leaped up, there was a good chance of hitting your head on one of those old, rusty nails.

Well, those dugouts were torn down, and replaced with two cement dugouts that were the current dugouts up until a few weeks ago.

These dugouts weren’t bad, with the bright side of having no nails to pierce your head on.

But, then, as the years wore on, the third base dugout became a death trap (or was about to become one).

See, the cement slab that was the ceiling was beginning to sag, and looked as if it could come down in the near future.

Add to that some of the larger Wildcats (you know who you are) hanging on it to stretch from time-to-time, and no one felt all that safe in it.

With all of that, the Wildcats and the City of Winsted came together and the new dugouts are nearly done.

RAM Buildings of Winsted is doing the construction, and Chuck Schultz (my daddy) did the blueprint.

The new dugouts are like cathedral compared to our old, small ones.

Before, when our entire team was at a game, we couldn’t all fit in the dugout, but that should no longer be a problem.

Finally, I will get back to the fact that I am coaching at Lester Prairie.

Practice hasn’t even started yet (starts today) and I have already found out that being the head coach has much more responsibility than just being an assistant.

It hasn’t been anything I didn’t expect, but it definitely isn’t the fun part of coaching.

The fun part, at least to me, is practice and games, interacting with the kids, and seeing them improve throughout the season.

We enter the year with high expectations, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Throughout the course of the season, I plan on writing a number of columns about the trials and tribulations that I will experience being a first-year head coach.

No doubt there will be a few growing pains, but with the great kids I have, and all of the great assistant coaches I have, I think the pains will be just minimal.

Alright, that is it for now. Hope everyone is enjoying March Madness, and don’t worry, I just know spring is right around the corner.