There’s nothing arrogant about being good

It’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance.

So it’s no surprise when someone is confident about something, it can be perceived as arrogant.

Friday night after New Riegel beat Carey, 8-2, in the district final, one of the other reporters made the comment to me that New Riegel coach Jamie Lininger is kind of cocky.

I told him the good ones usually are a bit arrogant.

As I got to thinking about it later, I readjusted my thought.

Was it confidence or was it arrogance?

Arrogance comes when you’ve proven nothing.

Confidence comes when you can back it up.

The good ones are confident in their teams and their abilities to bring out the best in the athletes playing for them.

An example of the difference came this school year. We had an area coach replace a pretty successful one this season and I left the preseason interview thinking this coach was awfully arrogant about the team and his or her ability to just pick up where the last one left off. Needless to say, this coach and his or her team did not measure up to the previous success. Not even close in fact.

That’s arrogance.

Confidence is saying the opposition is going to need to score 20 runs to beat you because you know what bats you have in your lineup.

But confidence can go another way too.

Like confidence in the opposition. Case in point was back in April when New Riegel lost to Mohawk in a Midland Athletic League contest. Despite there being half the season left, Lininger congratulated Mohawk on winning the league title.

I asked Lininger about that quote Friday night. His answer spoke of the confidence he had in Mohawk coach Jenny Weinandy and her club.

“No one else in the league was going to beat Mohawk,” Lininger said. “They were too good.”

And how many times over the last 15 years has an opposing coach thought that to themselves after losing an important MAL game to Weinandy’s Mohawk softball team. Probably dozens, but few ever verbalized it.

There are some who probably are glad Weinandy announced her retirement this week after 15 seasons, and maybe for good reason.

The coach compiled a 306-85 record, nine MAL titles, seven district titles, two regional crowns and two state championships (2003 and 2005). That’s a lot of beatings and many by sizeable margins.

But more than the records and the wins, Lininger said Weinandy is a better human being.

“She’s such a good person and she puts up with a lot of crap. She doesn’t deserve it at all,” Lininger said. “She has two state championships and is just a genuine person.”

While some may be glad she’s done, Lininger is not one of them.

“It’s been quite the rivalry, but I have a lot of respect for her,” Lininger said. “I don’t know if you can call them competitions because they beat us so many times. I think we only beat her four times and once in 11 years in the league. She always had such great teams and they’re always so well coached. I have a lot of respect for her and I’m going to miss coaching against her.”

Weinandy also was a confident coach. When you have the track record she did, it was for good reason. But it also was a case of knowing her players and how to get the absolute best out of them.

“What I liked about her was she’s always very good at knowing strengths and weaknesses. I think especially for the state team (in 2003) we were lucky to have a person in each position that was good and she capitalized on that,” said 2004 grad Aubrey Walton, who still is third all-time in state history for consecutive wins with 43. “She knew players’ strengths and weaknesses and that helped her excel as far as she did.”

That’s exactly what Weinandy loved about coaching.

“I’m going to miss putting together a team that works together, the chemistry of the players, the talent of the players. I miss putting all that together and seeing what we can do, especially come tournament time,” Weinandy said. “I’ve been fortunate to have athletic players. The work they put into it, their drive at practice. I’m going to miss that.”

She said seeing the players celebrate after a win, seeing the fruits of the labor in practice, was a real joy.

One of her current players said what made her a great coach was her ability to relate.

“Jenny is the only woman coach we’ve had and she knows the emotions we go through and she knows the ups and downs that go throughout softball,” Kasey Adelsperger said. “I think she’s a good communicator with us and she really knows how to get our heads in the game and how to visualize every play out there. She really does well with that.”

Weinandy loved what she did in the dugout. That passion was evident in her games and in her postgame speeches to the team. And she loved her teams.

“I guess having 300 wins would be my most proud accomplishment. The 300 wins it wrapped up because it’s not just one team,” Weinandy said. “It’s a compiling of my whole career and all the teams and all the players I was able to coach.”

And clearly her teams loved her. Walton, who lives and works in Los Angeles now, gets back to Sycamore three times a year and last week was throwing batting practice to the Warriors.

At a Mohawk softball game, the stands are littered with not only Mohawk parents but former players.

It was one of those former players, Jen (Lonsway) Jacoby, who consoled Weinandy after the team was upset Wednesday in the district semifinals by New London.

“Coach, it’s not how hard you fall but how fast you get back up that defines a person,” Jacoby told her, according to Weinandy.

It sounds like something she may have told her team over the years after a disappointing season-ending loss.

Walton said the program owes a great deal of gratitude to Weinandy.

“It’s been 15 years and that’s a long time to dedicate to one thing,” Walton said. “I’m sad to see her hang it up. She made the program what it is today.”

So if over the years you found Weinandy cocky or arrogant by what her teams did or what she said, I’d beg to differ.

Her resume spoke for itself: 300-plus wins and two state titles.

Her team spoke for her on the field, winning nine league titles and seven district crowns.

When you’re good, it’s not arrogance. It’s confidence.

Just like I’m confident in saying Mohawk is losing a Hall of Famer in Weinandy.

Aaron Korte can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @KorteClarkKent.