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Coach: ‘Baseballs about the Jims and Joes’

By Ruth Fry - | May 19, 2021

RUTH FRY/The Luminary Members of the baseball coaching staff at Hughesville High School are from left to right: Tyler Neuhard-Assistant JV; Matt Balliet -JV/Varsity Assistant; Trey Smith-Varsity Assistant; Rod Smith-Varsity Assistant; Head Coach Chris Kish; and Nat Hill-Varsity Assistant.

HUGHESVILLE – Christopher Kish, had served three years and has been for five years, head coach for the Hughesville High School Varsity Baseball Team. Sharing as to how his interest in the game began, he gave credit to his parents. “My mom and dad have always played a very big part in my athletic career from a playing and coaching perspective. They made a lot of sacrifices along the way personally and financially to allow me to participate in sports,” Kish said.

To be more specific, he said, “Some of the most vivid memories I remember was my father teaching me how catch and pitch while coming up through Little League. We spent hours upon hours working at the local park on defensive drills and taking batting practice. My mom never let me go without having the necessary items to compete. Both did a really good of allowing me to play and never tried to get overly involved. They wanted me to create my own way. Very rarely did they say much other than positive things regardless of the outcome or my performance,” Kish said.

And play he did, through the local Little League, up through Tenner League baseball, Legion Baseball, Travel Baseball, Keystone State Games, and High School Baseball leagues. “I chose to go to Lycoming College to play football with the intent to play baseball based on the college’s letterhead that baseball was coming back. Unfortunately, the team never happened at the time, but it is good to see that the college is now moving forward with having a team,” Kish said.

When beginning to teach at Hughesville, Kish reached out to Mr. Kevin Steele, the athletic director at the time. “I asked him if there was an opportunity to help out with the baseball team. I had a meeting with then current Hughesville head coach and current South Williamsport head coach (Casey Waller). I was afforded the opportunity to coach with him and continue to learning the game by watching him approach practices and games. I am incredibly indebted to him and the district for giving me the opportunity to jump on staff as an assistant coach,” Kish said.

At Lycoming College, Coach Wiser taught Kish how to coach. Wiser would say, “Coaching isn’t always about the X’s and O’s, it’s about the Jimmy and Joes.” In other words, it’s about taking care of people and letting them know you care. Kish said that, “Wiser is my dad away from home and has always looked after and encouraged me. He teaches lessons, he recycles people, I have never seen him throw someone away but finds the good in people. He is always one of the first phone calls I receive after a game regardless of outcome. Our bond is lifelong, he has guided me to become not only a better coach, but a better person. I am hopeful that I can be as successful as him at some point in my coaching career.”

In speaking of his team, Kish said, “We got out to a hot start at the end of March and things have turned a bit. We are a young team going through some growing pains. Regardless of our record now or at the end of the season, I think this group’s success will ultimately be measured by their resolve to complete the season based on all of the obstacles faced throughout the year.”

COVID has presented challenges yet the Hughesville kids are fighters. They have been through it, just like kids across the country, but to see them continually grow each day and learn to respect each other is ultimately the biggest success. “I don’t think people realize how hard it is to be part of a team today, especially with all of the individual accolades that people receive. Some of our greatest successes as a coaching staff isn’t the game winning hit, but seeing a kid that couldn’t get a bunt down in winter go out there in a JV game and get it done for his teammates. That’s baseball, that’s life, that’s success,” said Coach Kish.

A single humorous event the coach could not recall but said, “Just laughable moments that we create everyday as a team and the stuff that goes on with baseball guys creates memories that will last a lifetime.” 

Looking toward the future Kish says, “I love this team and the DNA of the guys that are part of it this year. First goal, get ten wins and get into the postseason tournament. From there anything can happen. I look toward the immediate future competing against other great programs in the area and finding out what the finished product of the 2021 team will look like.”

In retrospect, the coach stated, “The fun thing about coaching and playing is that it is completely opposite from today’s world. Today, everyone wants an outcome now and fast forward without putting in the work. Coaching and playing is process and detail oriented, you must put in the work daily to see the outcome. There is no substitute for working hard and executing.”