Five years away from the game only reinforced what Dave Coyle already knew:
He loves baseball.
"I missed it a lot," Coyle said. "It's a great sport, a great game."
A freshman-JV coach at Valpo under Pat Murphy and Todd Coffin, Coyle has been named the Vikings varsity coach, succeeding Mickey Morandini. Coyle, who also applied for the position after Coffin resigned in 2006, has not coached baseball since then.
"My family was so young and I had quite a bit on my plate with football and the marine biology program at the high school," Coyle said. "You have to balance your time very effectively. Now that my family's gotten a little older, when the opportunity presented itself, I was extremely excited to get involved once again. I can't wait."
Coyle met with his new team Tuesday, some of whom he already knew from football, where he is the Vikings defensive coordinator. The experienced group features Texas Christian signee Jerrick Suiter, also one of Coyle's mainstays in the fall.
"We're blessed with a great senior class and an underclassman group who work extremely hard, and this is a great opportunity to work with them all," Coyle said. "It's been an exciting year for us, and our goal, like all teams, is to win the Duneland Athletic Conference. It's one of the best if not the best conference in the state."
With that in mind, Coyle will immediately implement a year-round weight training program. He also plans to reach out to the youth leagues in the community.
"Obviously, you have to build a strong feeder system," Coyle said. "As with all successful programs, those are things you need in order to strive to be at the top."
Known for his intensity on Friday nights, Coyle will try not to wear a groove from pacing in the dugout. At the same time, it won't come at the expense of his approach.
"My energy level is not going to change," he said. "I only know one way. I'm a true competitor. I love to compete. I've never worked under a coach who wasn't 100 percent as far as energy and effort. I enjoy the game. I'm going to coach with passion and I hope my players will share the same passion."
Coyle is widely considered a strong candidate to succeed Mark Hoffman as football coach when Hoffman retires. He knows that position will likely open sooner than later, but isn't looking ahead.
"If I had a globe to look at and see where I'll be in 10 years, I'd be a rich man," Coyle said. "I'm worried about today, right now. I'm focused on the present. We've got fantastic student-athletes who deserve a very dedicated coach who will put in the time, and I'm fortunate to have a staff who feels the same way."