Life Lessons For Both Of Randy Mazey’s Families

Randy Mazey
West Virginia head coach Randy Mazey

Life Lessons For Both Of Randy Mazey’s Families

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Randy Mazey, like so many coaches around the country, has two families.

There is the West Virginia baseball team he has coached out of the darkness of Hawley Field and into the Big 12 and national prominence.

And then there is the family at home, two young children and his wife, Amanda, who he has included in everything he does with his baseball family.

Randy Mazey Weston Mazey
West Virginia head coach Randy Mazey flashes a sign as son Weston surveys the field

We know how coaches in all sports have talked with their teams as their games were put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has all but paralyzed our country and much of the world.

But how does a loving father and husband deal with such a thing when it involves his own family at home?

“The same way I told our baseball team,” he said in a phone interview shortly after his season had been canceled and his team sent home. “We told the kids it’s a national emergency and these things happen. In my lifetime we’ve been through the SARS virus and the swine flu and everything. One of my favorite quotes is ‘This too shall pass.’ They all have and they all will now. We just have to weather the storm.”

But sometimes as you are weathering the storm, especially if you are as young as his children, son Weston and daughter Sierra are, you can’t see the sun that is residing high above the storm clouds.

“This is an experience for my kids, too, just like my team. When they become adults and have their own children they can reflect back and say ‘We’ve been through this before, not panic and do what we can do to help out,'” Mazey said.

There is something of a bright side to it, although through the growing numbers of those infected and those who have died from coronavirus it is not something that he and his family can fully appreciate.

“In our profession you don’t get to see your children very often,” Mazey said, which was why he always had them involved in the program as best he could. “Now that they’re out of school and we don’t have a baseball season, we can spend a lot of time together and do things we don’t normally get to do at this time of year.

“I’m the kind of person who feels like whatever happens, no matter how bad it is, you can find some good in it and this will be a good little bit of time for baseball coaches to spend some time with their families that they have not gotten to do.”

Unfortunately, he can’t spend time with his other family, the baseball team. He remembers being on the bus to the airport to go to play the Big 12 opener at Texas Tech when play was suspended and having to inform his team that the season was in jeopardy. That would have been a difficult task in any season, but this year his team was off to its best start since joining the Big 12.

“We were having a great season.” Mazey said. “We had won some really good series on the road and were playing well. We were pitching really well, had a no-hitter in Mon County Ball Park and Braden Zarbnisky looked like he was on the way to being the national two-way player of the year.

“We were in the Top 10 in several categories. It was a great year.”

And they put the brakes on the bus and on the season.

“It’s strange. I hate to use the word weird, but the feeling in the air right now as you walk around is unlike anything I’ve experienced before,” Mazey said. “The unknown of what we’re getting into just hangs there.

“As I told my team, this is really valuable experience in their life to experience something like this because good, bad or indifferent, going through it will stick with them the rest of their lives in case they ever have to deal with it again.

“Odds are they will go through something like this again in their lifetimes and this will prepare them for it the next time it happens.”

Mazey was not talking about the disease, but of facing something out of their control that throws their life out of kilter, that robs them of their greatest love — in this case baseball.

While that may seem insignificant at the moment, for most of them it was their lifelong dream, playing college baseball, having a chance to be seen on a large scale and scouted and maybe moving on into professional baseball.

Then it was gone, so how did they respond to learning the season was over?

“There was some disbelief in there, some frustration,” Mazey said. “Overall, the best word to describe it was sadness, especially with the seniors. At that time they didn’t know they would be granted another year of eligibility, so a lot of them thought this was how their college career was going to end.”

Now they have been granted another year of eligibility, should they desire, and that is certainly uplifting news,  it also presents logistical problems concerning scholarships, recruiting and the roster.

“There will be some lingering effects from it, but in the baseball world you deal with roster management and scholarships. You are creative all the time and that is what separates us from other sports,” Mazey said.

“We’ll handle it just fine, but it will definitely present some challenges for a lot of people.”

Right now, though, it’s all unknown.

“It’s going to be an interesting dynamic moving forward because next year’s sophomores moving forward will all be eligible for the draft, as will the juniors and the seniors,” Mazey noted. “It will be interesting to see how it plays out, but we’ll react to it.

“Like I said, we’re used to it in our profession. It’s just been taken to another level right now.”

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