Mr. 500: Clyde’s Marshall reflects on milestone, coaching career

Prep Softball Roundup

CAREY — There are two numbers pertaining to Clyde softball coach Marc Marshall’s career.

There is the No. 30, which constitutes the number of years he’s been coaching softball at Clyde. Then there is the No. 500, which counts for the wins he achieved with his team beating Perkins Wednesday night 9-0.

Two very different numbers, but a few things were clear about Marshall — his love of what he does and his passion for softball.

“In this day and age, the whole aspect of doing it for 30 years is something special,” he said. “That’s what’s amazing to me. When I first started in 1990, I didn’t have any intentions of coaching for 30 years, but I fell in love with the sport and I think it’s the best sport and I’m even a baseball guy. This game to me is so much better than baseball because it’s faster and the whole aspect of it.

“I’ve also had a lot of good assistant coaches over the years. Trust me, it says that I get 500 wins, but we’ve had a lot of good players that have bought in to what we are trying to do and it’s more of a celebration for them really. It says me, but it’s for everyone. You can’t win a game without a pitcher, a catcher, infielders and outfielders and all that stuff, but just the fact that we’ve had a lot of girls buy in to what we are trying to do.”

It’s evident the players and assistant coaches have bought in to what Marshall has been building at Clyde. He has averaged a little more than 16 wins a season in his 30 years, which reached the pinnacle at the Division II state tournament in 2008.

But just like anyone else who has done something for 30 years, there are always people supporting behind the scenes.

“My wife has been great through this. I have two grown kids, Heidi at Tiffin (University, playing softball) and my son is 22 and she never once asked me to give it up when they were little,” Marshall said. “We drug them along and we drug Heidi along, she hit Fungos and kept book with us.

“(Bellevue coach) Walt (Snyder) and I are the two old geezers, we’ll probably be in our wheelchairs and our diapers in the third base box before you get rid of us, but Walt is a good friend. He’s not going anywhere and I don’t plan on going anywhere either, health-wise, if everything goes well. I enjoy it. Whether it’s my first year or my 30th, I still like practice, I like the games, I like working with the players and with my assistant coaches … from that aspect nothing’s changed.”

To still like practice, the games and the everyday grind of something for 30 years, what is it about softball?

“To me, it’s the ultimate team game because every game is a different opponent, every pitch, every batter, every position of your defense and baserunners change the game. The strategic part of the game is what’s so awesome to me because you have to be prepared and you have to try to get your kids prepared for every situation there is,” Marshall said. “That doesn’t always happen, but it’s such a great team game.

“Your pitcher is only going to be as good as your catcher. And they will only be as good as your infield and as good as your outfield, so it’s just a team aspect. Even if you have an awesome pitcher, you don’t have a catcher or a defense to defend for her, bad things can happen. You need all the different elements and aspects of the game to have success.”

In today’s high school sports landscape, there are just a handful of coaches who last in the same sport and at the same school for longer than 10 years, or even five years in most cases. But Marshall said since Clyde hired him in 1990, he has taken pride in representing the blue and gold every year and wants to instill that pride within his team and program.

“To me, I take a lot of pride in coaching for Clyde that long. That was my first job and they hired me, so I felt like I should show them some loyalty and I think our girls are proud to wear the blue and gold for four years, it’s something you need to take pride in.

“We are a blue-collar team. We are going to work hard and battle until the very end and the girls have bought into that. We aren’t flashy, we’re not that fast, not slow, but in the middle. We are going to work and work and work.”

One of his players who exuded talent and his vision of hard work was his daughter. She was one of the better players in the area, but did not get to finish her high school career on the diamond due to an ACL injury.

However, she is fully back and starting for Tiffin University as a freshman this season.

“I’m just super excited for him,” Heidi Marshall said. “Being a part of that, it’s even more special. He’s a great guy and he deserves all of it.”

Of course, flipping it around, coach Marshall spoke about how special it was to coach his daughter for basically her whole life and into high school, which is not always the case for other dads who coach their children.

“Very enjoyable to be with her. That time you get to spend with them goes so fast,” Marshall said. “When she was younger I helped coach the travel teams, but at the high school level it was so enjoyable because we got to share something together. The memories there we will have forever. The wins and losses didn’t matter, it was the memories and watching her play and develop as a player and a young lady. It’s irreplaceable.”

When asked what he would think about when 500 wins enters his mind, his reply was consistent with the rest of the interview: the relationships he has built over the years with players, assistant coaches and parents of the community.

“Us going to state in ’08, the battles against Oak Harbor in the district and Keystone in the regionals, the relationships you have with the kids … there are a lot of memories there,” he said. “And I don’t know how many of my former players have gone into the coaching profession that would call me up and say, ‘Hey, what do you think of this or that?’ That means the most to me having them go into the coaching profession because it’s a great profession.

“I know it has its headaches and pains in the neck, but it’s really a very enjoyable profession. The relationships with the girls and players, coaches and parents are the most memorable things. Thirty years ago I can’t tell you what our record was, but I can tell you the fun we had my first year learning how to play the game of softball.”

From his first year to year No. 30 with a 500th victory, it’s clear Marshall isn’t thinking about retirement any time soon.

“As long as I’m healthy and I enjoy doing it, I’m not going to stop coaching,” he said. “I think if I didn’t do it, my wife would probably divorce me because I would be home all the time driving her crazy. She knows I like it and she wants me to continue. She’s been very supportive and so has my son, they’ve been awesome. As long as Clyde will have me, I’ll keep working at it.”

So it seems the countdown to win No. 600 is underway.