MIKE NIETO: Behind every successful coach ...

2012-06-09T21:45:00Z 2013-12-28T19:47:56Z MIKE NIETO: Behind every successful coach ...By Mike Nieto Prep Beat
June 09, 2012 9:45 pm  • 

JOLIET | Like the Grateful Dead song, "Truckin," what a long, strange trip it's been for the Marian Catholic baseball team.

It culminated Saturday with the Spartans winning the Class 3A state title, 10-2 over LaSalle-Peru at Silver Cross Field.

It is no secret how this team struggled and then bonded and played together at the right time. From the house parties to their infamous video spoof of "Call Me, Maybe" as a takeoff on what the Harvard baseball team did, to the Spartans just playing as a team and putting it all together at the right time.

There is no doubt it was frustrating for coach Phil Wail and the Spartans, but the seniors took control and once the train got on a roll, there was no stopping it.

A season like this cannot only be trying for the coach, but his family. He and his wife Katie have an 11-month-old son Alex, and both were there, though Alex may not remember this special event in his dad's life.

"My rock -- right here, my sounding board" said Phil Wail as he kissed Katie. "Alex was born the day we beat Marist in summer ball regionals. They mean everything to me."

And he means everything to them. Wail, a 1998 Marian grad, came back to his alma mater and won a state title. Katie said it was tough to see her husband come home after a tough loss, but he hid it some.

"He did a nice job of leaving it on the field, but I could see how tough it was," Katie said. "This is everything for him. He went to school here and I know it was hard, but this what he does. Phil loves to coach and teach kids."

Katie Wail, who is form Nebraska, is like anyone who is married to a coach. There is your family and then there is the extended family and your husband is on call 24 hours a day -- or so it seems. There are phone calls from the media, parents and in Wail's case, it is even tougher because he teaches at Heritage Middle School in Lansing.

"I am so happy for Phil," Katie Wail said. "I know this what he worked for and to see him win and the kids, that is great."

There was Katie before Saturday's game with Alex in a stroller, going to her seat to cheer on the Spartans. A hot afternoon and she knew it might be tough for Alex as babies and sometimes adults get restless with the heat and humidity. But she was there, behind home plate, to cheer for the Spartans and her husband.

When the celebrating was going on, Katie stood back and enjoyed it and let her husband relish the moment.

This column is solely the writer's opinion. Reach him at

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