May 16, 2014
Like family: Hilary Mavromat, Kristyn Richards and Maris Medina take a selfie with coach Clint Myers
By Charles Goldberg
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — There's an RV parked beyond the outfield wall in Auburn. It's the one the family takes to road games.
Clint Myers says he'll deck it out in Auburn colors before long.
The first-year Auburn softball coach is a family guy who thanks Auburn for bringing him, his two coaching sons and the rest of the family together for another run at a national championship. Oh, Myers has plenty already, nine in four-year and junior college baseball and softball, and is here this weekend to embark on what he hopes is another. The Tigers open NCAA play against North Dakota State today at 4 p.m. at the University of Minnesota. The winner of the four-team regional Sunday will advance to the Super Regionals, then maybe the College World Series.
Clint Myers has been there, won there, and could have tried it again at Arizona State. But Auburn gave him a chance to bring the family together, and here he is at age 62 trying to instill the family concept with his players.
The players must be getting the message.
"To have my grandkids here and have my daughter-in-law here and my in-laws here and everything else. This is this first time in the 37 years I've been married that my whole family is together. It's awesome," Myers says.
"The girls see that. They understand that. It reinforced that we have here. Brothers fight. Sisters fight. Brothers and sisters fight. Husbands and wives argue. At the end of the day, it's always us against them. We have each other's back. We want each other to succeed. That's the thing about a big roster; there's great competition. To see two people at the same position helping each other where only one of them is going to play is different than most program. Bottom line — it's us. It's us going out to win. It's us going out to win.
"I'm a lucky man because every day I go to work, I have family there. Every night when I go home, I've got family there. I've been doing this for 40 years. It's still exciting. Every morning I wake up is an awesome day. I've got a job I love. I'm doing it with family. What more can I ask for?"
Auburn is in the midst of a turnaround. Myers helped that along with family… and his competitive nature.
"If we're going to play checkers, I'm going to beat you. I beat my grandchildren in chess. It's that way," he said.
"You can call it a philosophy change or a culture change, whatever. Gus (Malzahn) kind of sent the standard high for all of us with the season he had.
"We told them the first day, 'listen we don't expect you to trust us right away. We will earn your trust by what you see, how we handle ourselves, what we tell you.' And I think we've got it now. I think they understand the mentality, the unity. We do so many more things as a family. It's just one of those things."
There's Clint Myers, who brought in sons Clint and Casey, and Scotty Woodward, who played for him long ago.
"I've got three sons that I rely on, we talk, and it's great. If you ever go to one of our coaches' things, we're sitting in there arguing, cussing, and then we'll say, 'OK, where we going to eat?' and we pick up the families and we go," Myers said. "But we leave it there. It's just that way. So the culture, and we're blatantly honest with these kids. Don't ask a question if you don't want the answer. The nice thing of it is, these girls can go to any the four of us."
Then there's buddy Jim Beitia. He on the staff. Myers said trainer Lana Meeks has been a "godsend."
"She's been great as far as just talking to them about life and how to handle certain situations," he said. "So there's a lot of things we go and we believe in the honesty part, the communication part and the family part. And our motto basically is 'Greatness is a way of life' and it's not something that's just on the softball field. It's how you see yourself, how you live your life. I think that's a huge difference from the past too because we play a game and the four years they're going to spend with us, they're going to learn so many more things about themselves and about life than they are about a silly game. It's a great game, but it's still a game. We just have to keep things in perspective.
"We want them to be good people. Somebody says, 'How do you judge a successful season?' I said, 'Oh, 10-12 years after they come back.' You ask them what they're doing professionally, you want to know about their family, how many kids they've got. My phone's been blowing up with old players and fans and they're not talking about anything other than, 'Listen, you've got great kids. They've worked really hard.' Do we want to win? Yes. Are we going to go out and do the very best we can? Yes. But this is the first year and we're not going to make any excuses, we're going to get what we deserve.
"If we take care of business, we'll get to the Supers. If we take care of business there, we'll get to the College World Series. And if we take care of business there, we can win the thing. There's a lot of ifs and buts about that, but we're going to go out there and we're going to play, we're going to play hard, we're going to represent the university and the State of Alabama the best way we know how so people are going to be proud to say, 'Hey listen, that Auburn team they fight, they try hard, they play hard.'"
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine