McHenry's Wacker can name 200 ways patience pays off
Patience has been a common thread for McHenry County College's Jared Wacker throughout his baseball life.
It started when he was getting into coaching and did not have a full-time job until he was 27 years old, he told the McHenry Times in an email interview. Luckily, he did not face pressure on the home front.
“My parents both knew that this was something I was passionate about, and instead of nagging me to get a full-time job, they were nothing but supportive,” he said.
That patience paid off recently. Wacker became the Scots' head coach at the start of the2012 season and earned his 200th career victory when MCC beat Monroe 4-1 on March 14 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Wacker thanks his parents for supporting his career choice.
“If they hadn’t been so patient with me during that time period, there’s no way I’d have any wins, let alone over 200,” he said.
Patience also has been a key element to his improvement as a head coach, Wacker said.
“I try to not lose sight of the fact that this game is very difficult, and what I’m asking them to do is not easy,” he said. “We’ve put a greater emphasis on the mental game so players can focus on their routine and the process of game play in addition to the skills of throwing, hitting and catching a baseball.”
Wacker said winning his 200th game would have been something his younger self would have gone crazy over.
“As a young coach, I put so much emphasis on it and took it so personal when we lost and that can be really exhausting,” he said. “You learn as you get deeper into it that 99 percent of this is the players and their competitiveness and their execution. I really enjoy putting lineups together. I enjoy the chess match of game play.”
Wacker, who was the Scots' team player-captain in 2000, said he also enjoys developing players and watching them grow on and off the field. Prior to this season, 45 of Wacker's former players have moved on to play at four-year colleges. That ties in with something a top junior-college coach once said at a convention Wacker attended: Junior-college coaches are great teachers because the four-year-college coaches get more polished players that way.
“That has really been an important concept in our program philosophy to develop our student-athletes and teach the game here,” Wacker said. “It’s been rewarding to see that development with all the players we’ve been able to send on to the four-year level to play baseball and complete their degree.”
Wacker's love of baseball was fueled by his father, a big baseball fan and mail carrier would would cover 10 miles a day on foot, yet still play catch with his son or take him to ball games and practice.
“I’m pretty sure if my dad didn’t have the passion for baseball that he did that I’d be doing something much different with my life,” Wacker said.
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