When his starting pitcher started struggling with allowing hits and developing a high pitch count last weekend, CSU baseball head coach Nick Childs knew something had to be done. As he approached the mound he had the best interest of the team in mind, but at the same time he was walking up to pull his little brother out of the game.
Childs shares a bond with his team that is closer than most head coaches. The younger guys on the team know Childs as coach, while the older players remember him as an older brother, a fellow classmate and a former teammate.
“As cliche as it sounds, we really do call the baseball team our family because that’s what it has turned into,” Childs said. “I’ve been around these guys for so long and seen everybody grow up together that I can say that I do love them all as much as my brother.”
After experiencing multiple coaching changes within the past two years, CSU baseball elected Childs as the new skip just a year into his coaching career this March.
The Rams were formerly led by longtime coach Mike Abernathy, who many feel was responsible for getting the CSU baseball program to where it is today.
“Abs was the guy who baseball players wanted to play for, he had lots of guys coming here just because of him. He was the guy who commanded respect, while Nick is the guy who wants to work to earn your respect,” pitcher Travis Childs said.
Abernathy received a job offer in Massachusetts that forced him to move away last year from the program he loved.
Assistant coach Matt Reed was quick to fill the hole left from Abernathy’s absence, but ultimately the decision of leader came down to the players of the team.
“At the end of the day the players are the one who are essentially writing the paychecks through their dues and fees paid to the program,” club president Colton Duffy said. “We all still believe that he is fully right for the job and was our best possible fit.”
At 25, Childs is well below the average age of collegiate coaches, something that others view as a downfall while he and his team use to their advantage.
“I think it works great because it’s different than having some stranger telling us what to do. With Nick out there, it’s like we’re all working together to achieve the same results we all see,” Travis Childs said.
Although young, Childs still has the most experience with the club out of everybody on the team. He also has played a role in his brother’s career since the beginning of middle school.
“They have a close bond, their personalities are very different but they mold and mesh very well together. It was always nice to see because you don’t always see that between brothers,” Abernathy said. “You can tell that they enjoy and respect one another which translates both on and off the field.”
The man who impacted CSU baseball the most believes Childs has the ability to accomplish everything he did and more.
“It’s going to be a learning experience and there are going to be some bumps in his road, but he’s going to be just fine,” Abernathy said. “It’s challenging to step into the shoes he has but he has the capability to build the program and create good men in the process.”
Childs admits that the initial process of stepping into the role of leading the team he once played for was a difficult task at first, but is coming to terms with it more everyday.
“I was a little bit uncomfortable with taking (Reed’s) position at first, but being a baseball coach is something that I want to do for the rest of my life,” he said. “Although the transition was difficult, I was really excited for the opportunity and have enjoyed every minute of it and couldn’t be happier.”
Club Sports Beat Reporter Quentin Sickafoose can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.