“I’ve been an ambassador of the game, a fan of the game, and a way for me to give back was to start coaching. I’ve had the opportunity and enjoyed every bit of it.”
BY: Michael Natelli, Big Train Insider
Since day one of Bethesda Big Train baseball back in 1999, Sal Colangelo has been a fixture in the dugout sporting his signature Virginia Tech baseball cap. Though he started off as an assistant coach, Colangelo took over as manager in 2005 and led the team to a championship in his first season. Colangelo would later lead the Big Train to somewhat of a dynasty in which the club won three consecutive titles from 2009-2011.
“God, I think they were all equal,” says Colangelo. “[But] I think this year [was most special], not because of winning the national championship, [but because] I don’t think we had the most talented team. Last year we were talented, but to see this group of kids that jelled together as a team and as a family … I think was probably the most rewarding. Whatever you did, they did. Whatever you asked for, they did, and that’s just something that I’ll never forget. The personalities and everything were phenomenal.”
After coaching both high school and college ball, coaching these potentially professional players is a piece of cake for the experienced Colangelo. “It’s no different … They’re just a little older and a little more experienced. If you want to lay down a bunt, they’re more fine-tuned,” he says.
Some are even fine-tuned enough to get drafted into the pros. But to Colangelo, that’s not even the greatest part. “It makes me proud, but I’ll tell you [what] makes me prouder: [when] they graduate and they call me back years later. [They] have degrees and they have families and they’re successful, and they talk about the experience they’ve had in Bethesda being very memorable. That means more than anything.”
With returning stars like Hunter Renfroe, Michael Aldrete, Matt Bowman, etc., it’s certainly expected that the team will compete for its fourth title in as many years this summer. But even if that happens, Colangelo would only be half way to his goal.
“When I played in the Clark Griffith League (which was similar to the Cal Ripken League), I played for Chuck Faris and he was a legend. [He] won eight titles and that’s something that I want to top just because he’s a mentor, a role model, and a great guy. [I] think that’s something I’ll be able to do one day.”
Eight titles? Should be some fun years ahead for this club with Colangelo at the helm.