Sign Language: Lake wins Coach of the YearJune 6, 2011
By John Strubel, University Relations
It’s the first week of June, and Charleston Southern University Buccaneers head baseball coach Stuart Lake is sitting in an empty dugout. His surroundings are familiar, but the feeling is uncomfortable.
“Today is one of those bittersweet days because Regionals start,” Lake confessed.
Not for Lake or the Buccaneers who were eliminated from the Big South Conference tournament after back-to-back losses the final week of May. A couple days later, with replays still bouncing around his head, he received a surprise phone call.
“I want you to be prepared that you’re going to win the Coach of the Year award,” Ashley Bailey said in a phone call to Lake.
The first thing Lake did was call his staff.
“I realized at that moment that it’s really the coaching staff of the year award,” said Lake. “I really do feel that we won it. I never felt like I had won it.”
When the realization set in, Lake thought about his college baseball coach Randy Mazey, who holds the honor of being the first coach in Buccaneers baseball history to win the Coach of the Year award. He did it in 1996, leading Charleston Southern University to its first Big South Conference championship. Four years later, in 2000, Bucs head coach Gary Murphy won the award.
Lake sent a text message to Mazey his former coach, who is now the associate head coach at Texas Christian University. “I have no question in my mind that I would not be sitting here if I had not played for him,” said Lake of his former coach.
The Bucs won 16 games under Lake in 2009. The team steadied, winning 17 games last season. The Bucs were picked to finish eighth in the Big South in 2011. Lake’s team finished third with a 28-28 record (15-12 in Big South Conference play), marking CSU’s highest finish since 2002 and the first time in nine seasons the Bucs have recorded 28 wins and 15 conference wins.
“The biggest thing that has changed since I got here is the ownership of the program,” said Lake. “When I first got here I felt like there were times that they could walk out of the gate after a game and not think about it until they walked back through the gate the next afternoon. I don’t believe in that. I believe you have to be in full ownership, from your players to your managers to your coaches.”
Lake’s teams have painted their own dugouts, hung their own signs, groomed their own grass and emptied their own trash. Lake said the duties instill a sense of ownership in his players, one that says “this is mine.”
Read the rest of the article, and see videos of Coach Lake at: www.csuniv.edu