Dye-Gest: Observing Special Coaches A Treat

Pat Dye writes about a pair of Hall of Fame coaches in this edition of his Dye-Gest column.

Emily Carosone (above) is a three-time All-American for the Auburn softball Tigers.

I just got back from spending five great days in Wyoming with Woody Bartlett and his crew on his beautiful 100,000-acre ranch. I went out there to observe and watch a horse clinic and it was a memorable five days for me.

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They rounded up 32 horses, all two-year-olds, that had never been saddled and had been living on the open range. All those horses knew was how to protect themselves. The crew rounded them, put them in pens and then we watched Hall of Fame cowboy Bill Smith teach young cowboys how to train these beautiful animals to become ranch horses, pleasure horses or whatever.

I love horses and have been around them my whole life, but compared to a teacher like Bill Smith, a three-time national champion, I?am a novice. It was interesting to watch the training, step by step, of taking these horses from wild, scared animals to ones that became trusting of whoever is working with a particular horse.

Some of those young cowboys are probably in their teens and others in their early 20s and it was a great learning experience for them as they were trained along with the horses.

Bill’s philosophy for teaching, coaching or whatever you want to call it is a simple one, which he puts on his calling card. It’s the phrase “make it easy for them to be right and difficult for them to be wrong, do what you have to do and do less. When it gets to be the horse’s idea you have got it made.” It is all based on non-abusive pressure and release, which means making it uncomfortable for the horse not do the right thing.

The clinic was going on all week while I was there. It was amazing to me that on Sunday morning they started with raw, scared horses and by Tuesday morning they had settled them down, saddled them and ridden them. It is a fascinating thing to observe.

You can learn a lot about life watching Bill work with the young cowboys. I have been to a dozen or so of his clinics and I come away learning something new every time that I can apply to my daily life.

Bill is a wonderful coach and I can say the same thing about Clint Myers, another Hall of Fame coach, and the job he is doing with the Auburn softball program. What the Tigers have done in the past three years since Coach Myers arrived has been so impressive. Going back to the time when I got to Auburn in 1981, I would say what he and his staff have accomplished has been the most impressive coaching job I?have seen.

You have got to love those girls for buying in, particularly the seniors who were recruited by somebody else. In a short period of time this team has been to two College World Series and came about as close as you can get to winning it this year. One of the best parts about the season was that there was a lot to love about this team throughout the season on its journey to Oklahoma City. They reached and passed a lot of milestones.

The weekend when they beat Alabama, Florida and LSU to win the SEC Tournament Championship was as impressive a three-game stretch as I can remember.

It was disappointing to the seniors that they didn’t win the national championship, particularly after Emily Carosone’s dramatic, walk-off grandslam to set up a game three. She had a rough game the next night and I sure hope she doesn’t carry the weight of not winning the title on her shoulders because without her play, and without her leadership, the team wouldn’t have been in the College World Series this year or last year.

I have been in competition enough to understand the disappointment when things don’t come out your way after you have spent so much time and energy pursuing your goal. It takes a lot more courage to face what happened in the final game than in the next-to-last one, but Emily Carosone has a ton of it and I know she will handle it. A lot of us hurt for you, but we admire you and love you.

In the long run I think the home runs, the big wins, the championships and losses won’t mean as much to her as the total experience of becoming an Auburn person over her four years as a student, and I believe that is something that she will carry with her for a whole lifetime.

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