By Zach Harnischfeger
Many college athletes aren’t fortunate enough to play at the professional level. When they graduate and their playing career is over some gravitate to being a coach. This transition from a player to a coach isn’t always smooth sailing, but for some coaches the transition is good.
SUNY Brockport assistant baseball coach Kyle Canavally was a four-year member of the Brockport baseball team. He became the pitching coach for the team last season. He believes his leadership role as a player helped make the transition smoother.
“The transition into coaching has been great. I’ve always gravitated towards leadership roles as a player, which I think has really prepared me for this opportunity,” Canavally said.
Canavally is now coaching some of the players he was teammates with. His teammates love having him as a coach.
“My former teammates really accepted me in my new role right away. They respected my work ethic and drive as a player and knew that I was going to do whatever I could to lead them in the right direction as a coach,” Canavally said.
In his first season as a coach, Canavally made the Brockport pitching staff into a powerhouse. In the beginning of the season the pitching staff led the nation with an Earned Run Average (ERA) of under two and paved the way for the team’s historic 33-11 season.
Sixth year pitcher Matthew Colucci, who was teammates with coach Canavally, shares how much of a benefit it is to have Canavally as a coach.
“This was a beneficial situation for me because our history as teammates gives him more knowledge about what is best for me as a player,” Colucci said.
Colucci and Canavally do a good job at balancing between being friends and respecting him as a coach.
“Our relationship is very good. We have a good balance between being friends and respecting him as a coach,” Colucci said
With the guidance of coach Canavally, Collucci earned his first SUNYAC All-Conference selection and had the best season of his career with a 3.93 ERA, 26 strikeouts and holding opponents to a .180 batting average.
SUNY Brockport assistant hockey coach Brendan Miller played four years of hockey at SUNY Geneseo. He won four SUNYAC championships and made an appearance in a NCAA National Championship as a player with Geneseo. This season is his first year as a coach. Coach Miller was a little apprehensive how the transition would be and how the players would view him.
“When you play the game for so long and you’re on that side of the game it’s definitely a transition to move into the coaching side of the game. The players were very welcoming of me and have been very respectful to me, which makes the transition a lot easier” Miller said.
Miller is learning a lot about how to be a coach from head coach Brian Dickinson and assistant coach Brian Fedele.
“Coach Dickinson and Coach Fedele have been really awesome in showing me the way that they do things here and helping me learn about coaching because I didn’t have any prior experience, I came right out of playing so I really give them a lot of thanks for helping get me into the transition and showing me how to do things coaching wise,” Miller said.
The turning of the tide from player to coach has given many former players an opportunity to pursue something they enjoy and still be able to do something they love.