Let’s not forget what coach did for your kids
Life throws us so many curveballs that we’re lucky if we can see one out of 10 coming.
Like many people in town, for me the story on Steve Kolesnik’s arrest last Wednesday was like getting hit in the back of the head with a Randy Johnson fastball.
After learning that Kolesnik was arrested for allegedly stealing more than $102,000 of rent money from Tahoe Shores Mobile Home Park I immediately thought of his livelihood – coaching.
There are few people in town who have given as much of themselves as Kolesnik has over the past five or six years. Kolesnik has taught many of your kids how to dribble with either hand and how to step toward and hit a fastball. More importantly, he has helped some of them prepare for the huge transition from child to teenager.
Last summer, Kolesnik coached my youngest son, Connor, on the South Lake Tahoe Little League 11-Year-Old All-Stars.
Up until then, Kolesnik had always been a coaching adversary in Little League and youth basketball at Kahle Community Center, although no one with a beating heart can dislike him for long. He is as warm of a human being as you will find and has a smile to match.
It was interesting to watch him coach the all-stars last July. His positive attitude and competitive spirit didn’t allow his young ballplayers to quit until the final out was recorded.
That quality nearly allowed South Lake Tahoe to pull off the biggest comeback of the tournament. They fell behind Reno National 8-0 after two innings but outscored the big city team 7-1 over the final four innings before losing 9-7. The local boys left the bases loaded twice over the final two innings, but Kolesnik didn’t come out of the dugout screaming about missed opportunities. Instead, Kolesnik gave them credit for their fighting spirit.
“I think they realized they were playing a good team and how good of a team they are themselves,” Kolesnik said at the time. “They never gave up and their attitudes were awesome.”
A week after the tournament, Kolesnik held a party for the all-stars at his home. Not many parents in town would have opened their doors on a day of leisure to a dozen rambunctious kids.
But Kolesnik did and I know there wasn’t one kid who didn’t have fun by the time he left for home late that afternoon. Through coaching basketball and baseball Kolesnik can relate to children in ways most adults can’t.
Late in the South Tahoe Little League season last spring I watched him playfully try to coax more strikes out of his pitching staff. Rather than having his players compete against one another, Kolesnik turned the bullpen game into a players vs. the coaches’ contest. Kolesnik wound up buying hot dogs and drinks for his players that day, but he didn’t mind. His players had fun and they learned how to throw strikes when it counted most – when something was on the line.
His players always treated umpires and officials with respect, which he did as well.
Despite what happened last week I don’t regret that he coached my child.
But I do worry about Kolesnik if he doesn’t have coaching to turn to when his problems with the law are resolved. He’s one of the best youth coaches this town has had and no one can change that.
– Tribune Sports Editor Steve Yingling can be reached at (530) 542-8010 or