Thursday December 5, 2013 | By:Michael J. Petro | Sports
HONORING A COACH — Mike Morlock, standing third to the right, is pictured with fellow winners of the 2012 – 2013 Section VI Coaches Sportsmanship Award.. Photo courtesy of Section VI.
Mike Morlock said he is not in coaching for the prestige or glamour. At the high school level, there’s not room for all of that.
The Frontier head varsity baseball and junior varsity football coach said he wants to make a difference in young men’s lives, by teaching them the right way to play the games and present themselves.
His big push is character and sportsmanship: two ideals he said come from the top of the athletic department at Frontier, starting with athletic director Rich Gray, and is carried through by all of the coaches at the school.
“If that’s not what you’re doing, than what are you doing in high school coaching?” he asked. “This is not the big-time stuff, like it is in college and the pros. It’s supposed to be to help grow these young athletes.”
For his work in instilling those values to his players, Morlock was selected to receive the Coaches Sportsmanship Award for 2012 – 2013 by Section VI. The year prior, Morlock was given coach of the year for junior varsity football, after leading his team to an undefeated season.
“You always want to make sure to explain to the kids what you have to do to compete and that you’re accountable for your actions,” Morlock said. “It’s a privilege to play a sport and, with that privilege, comes responsibility. You have to carry yourself in a certain way, everywhere you go.”
Morlock said that many of those responsibilities start in the classroom. A student-athlete must first be able to handle being a student, before he or she can be an athlete, Morlock noted.
Gray said that Morlock’s taking his responsibilities as a coach seriously makes him stand out. “Mike brings class, integrity and hard work to every sport he coaches and because of that, he has such an impact on student-athletes,” Gray said. “He demands those aspects out of them and the kids have a tremendous amount of respect and look up to him as a role model because of that.”
Morlock, who headed varsity baseball for nearly 10 seasons, has been building the program to compete against the elite large schools, such as Clarence and Orchard Park. His team reached the sectional final in 2009 and, after the 2011 campaign, should be a threat again this spring.
The coach, along with a plethora of coaches, have also made some key contributions to Frontier’s recent success as a program on the gridiron.
Many of the same players he coached during the 2011 JV football season went on to play for this season’s varsity team, which broke a 29-year drought by getting the school back to The Stadium for a sectional title game.
“We knew with what we had with that team we had a chance when they reached the varsity level,” Morlock said. “We needed to do whatever the varsity asked of us to help them thrive at the next level.”
Morlock said he was thrilled at having a 5 - 3 season in 2013, which included a pair of 1-point losses. His players will help infuse some talent to a Tim Myslinski-coached varsity team that will already return in 2014 with some key contributors.
Morlock said he likes the trust that’s been established between the two levels. “We’ve got to hold up our end of the bargain at the JV level,” he said. “‘Myz’ has a lot going on at the varsity level; he’s the real deal, as a coach. We’re just trying to do what we need to do at the JV level and then turn them over to the varsity. It’s nice because we believe in the varsity,” he added. “We’ve seen them get the most out of these kids.”
Although he’s with the varsity level for baseball, Morlock said he likes the change of pace presented by coaching the JV in football. “It helps my perspective to see some of these younger athletes and it’s nice to get them after the modified level to try to help them build a foundation for the varsity,” he noted.
Morlock usually officiates basketball during the winter season, but is stepping away from that, for now, to teach and give lessons for baseball at Sports Performance Park, an indoor facility in Clarence.
Soon he will be back outside at Frontier, teaching the game of baseball, not so much for the glory of it, but to build what he said he hopes will be athletes that continue to show off the sportsmanship he attempts to instill.