By Jeremy McDonald
MEDFORD, Ore.– David Dippel has been known for his high-intensity and boisterous personality along the basepaths and in the dugout the past 15 years coaching. This past Tuesday at the US Cellular Fields was no different.
Cheering his NW Vandals 18A team against Oregon Blaze 16A squad in both team’s second pool play game of the 18A Western Nationals Tournament in Southern Oregon. Joking with those around him, making the game fun as he coaches in his final tournament from this side of the game of softball.
“We all feed off of each other and if I can’t be the positive person in that they’re always looking for the positive, telling them ‘hey you can do this’, then everything goes to crap,” Dippel said. “Then they don’t believe it, then they start doubting themselves. They need someone in their corner, no matter how good they are, no matter how bad they are, how well they’re playing, how bad they’re playing.
“It doesn’t matter. They need to know that their coach is there for them and if that means I have to sit in the dugout with my rally cap on, my sunglasses on upside down or bringing up silly Weird Al Yanokvich songs just to lighten the mood, that’s my job.”
Now whether or not the go-to’s are some Weird Al’s hit or the rally-cap/sunglasses upside-down combination, Dippel has made an effort to make it fun as his squad finished pool play Wednesday morning with a 11-2 victory over the Freedom Fastpitch 18U. Going 1-2 heading into bracket play.
Kid’s still come up and call him coach as he hung out with a player of his following the 4-3 defeat to the Blaze 16A Tuesday afternoon and another that played with his daughters Jordan and Morgan at Dallas. Both of his kids, Dippel has coached.
It’s rough and bittersweet, Dippel said, fighting back tears. He’s not leaving the Vandals organization, but taking a step back from the coaching aspect following the Western Nationals tournament this week. Seeing all of his former athlete’s become young adults, the relationships he’s built through the years over coaching for five different organizations in his coaching career. Crediting his wife in helping out with the administrative stuff that would otherwise would drive him batty Dippel pointed.
And as the sunsets on one chapter of his softball career, Dippel is happy to have left his mark during his long coaching tenure that he has pieced together.
“It’s rough. It’s bittersweet, but it is my time. I’m not leaving the Vandals; I’m still doing stuff for them but it is rough knowing that there’s an actual end to all of it. But the time I get to be with my players, seeing them progress and see them become quality people on top of quality college athletes…that’s my payment for it all,” Dippel said choking up.
“The number of kids that I’ve coached in 15 years and how many kids that I haven’t coached come up and ask when your try-outs because they want to come out and play for you. It’s really not words to put into it. It’s probably a testament that I’ve done it the right way and I hoped I’ve done it the right way…I’m happy with the body of work I put out there.”
The first bracket game is slated at 9am against the South Valley Storm 18U.