New Lake Dallas baseball head coach Chris Haney, who was announced as the replacement for the departing Ryan Howard last week and will be embarking on his first journey at the helm of a program, brings to the Falcons several unique perspectives.
For one, Haney spent two years in the San Diego Padres’ organization, the best parts of which he said were the lessons learned through his coaches, particularly manager Pat Murphy, and veteran journeymen. For another, his last job saw him spend multiple seasons on the staff of Alan McDougal at Colleyville Heritage, a run that culminated with a Class 5A state championship for the perennial contender this spring.
Now, for the first time, Haney will look out at a group of athletes as the man at the helm.
“The coolest thing is, for the first time ever, these are my guys,” he said. “I know the relationship obviously changes from assistant to head coach. I mean, I’ve been the good cop – and don’t get me wrong, I’ve been a really stinking good cop for the last five or six years, and it’s been awesome – but I understand that that role is going to change. But, in all honesty, I’m inviting it.”
A coach in the area since his decision to retire from baseball due to injury – Haney worked as an assistant at Justin Northwest before his run at Heritage – the new Falcon skipper was familiar with what Lake Dallas and Howard were building toward.
In scouting the Falcons for a potential regional-final matchup this spring during the team’s fourth-round series against Lubbock Monterey in Abilene, Haney saw not only a committed fan base showing up in droves with Lake Dallas flags in tow, but a team that Howard had primed to be the kind of hard-nosed, loose and competitive bunch that Haney will be looking for.
“Whether the outcome is positive or negative, you’ve got to be able to peel it, eat it and move on to the next pitch. … They look like a group that’s going to do it from what I saw [under coach Howard],” he said. “They’re going to wreak havoc on the basepaths when they get on. That’s the caliber of baseball I like to see. I like to be fast-paced [and] up-tempo.
“I like guys to be flying around, and I definitely think that fits into the mold of the kind of cats that we’ve got over at Lake Dallas.”
Like many coaches who gravitate to Lake Dallas, the one-horse nature of the town appealed to Haney. He said it’s a community he feels will continue to support the baseball program, adding that he feels his superiors in Lake Dallas athletic director Scott Head and assistant athletic director Michael Young will do the same.
It was a previous mentor in McDougal, though, that exposed Haney to a mental side of the game that he believes complements the physical skills athletes develop to create both a more balanced and healthy approach to competing and a pervasive and positive program-wide culture.
“It applies to everyone, from your cleanup hitter on varsity all the way down to the bubble kid on the freshman team. They’re all functioning under the same core values, and that’s what’s going to help them succeed not just in baseball, but in developing into young men,” he said. “That’s why we get into this, so I was very fortunate to be able to see that kind of aspect play out as an assistant.”
Above all, however, Haney view his shot at head coaching as a vehicle that will allow him to impact the lives of those in his program for the better, like so many of his own leaders did for him.
“When I got married almost two years ago to my wife, I invited my high school coach to the wedding,” he said. “It kind of hit me. I was like, ‘Man, this could be me one day.’ I’m going to have guys that there’s a possibility that they care so much about me that they want me to go to their wedding. … I’m really excited to have the ability to have a role in some of these kids’ lives.”
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