When you love your job, you never work a day in your life.
A cliché many have heard, but one that suits Windsor baseball head coach Brad Deal and his team.
Deal has passion for baseball. He enjoyed a playing career in college at Northern Colorado, a coaching stint at Brush and time as an assistant under his dad at Fort Collins High School before coming to Windsor in 2012 after two years away from the game.
“I wanted to get back into baseball, I missed it,” Deal said.
Deal immediately made an impact, and after two winning seasons, Windsor is enjoying a tremendous year. The Wizards own a 14-0 record in Class 4A Tri-Valley Conference play and a 18-1 record overall.
Windsor holds first place in the latest 4A Associated Press poll.
Deal hesitates to take any credit, believing Windsor’s success has come from playing team baseball. He credits everyone, from improved outfield and infield play to the pitchers and the strong presence of catcher Tyler Shubert.
Deal’s positivity, excitement, and team-first approach to the game is also well accepted by his players who say his style of coaching has made the team more focused, and ultimately the sport more enjoyable.
“Once coach Deal got here there was a new atmosphere on the diamond,” senior third baseman Stephen Wheeler said. “Baseball’s become a lot more fun.”
While the players are enjoying the year, they’ve also dealt with and overcome challenges. A 6-5 loss to Pueblo East in early April, ruined Windsor’s perfect season and could’ve affected the team’s confidence and play throughout the rest of the season.
Instead, the Wizards decided to learn from it and refocus.
“It put in perspective that we need to go out and play our hardest . . . no one wants to lose but it helped us in the long run, knowing we could get beat,” senior right fielder Brandon Deering said.
Deal said Pueblo East presented his team with a lot of different challenges it had yet to see, and Windsor became wiser after the loss.
“(East) threw a quality lefty, they talked a lot which was something different, and they played fast,” he said. “We just took it as ‘hey this is a learning experience. We’ve seen something different and we know we didn’t handle it as well as we could have.’”
Windsor has also found a way to handle with the pressure that comes with being a top team. Deal credits his team for consistently having a level-headed approach every game, something developed in summer ball, but opposing coaches believe Windsor’s ability to continue playing well speaks to the skills and traits of its head coach.
“I think (Windsor’s) program is a direct reflection of the type of person Brad is,” Roosevelt head coach Alan Gibson said. “He’s a first-class individual, does things the right way and more than anything else he’s very steady. You never see a wide range of emotions from him and that’s exactly how their team is playing this year.”
Despite Windsor’s stellar record, very few games have been blowouts and a number of wins have been close. Gibson, who’s been at the helm of the Roosevelt baseball team for 13 years, believes the Wizards play better late in games, which has made them a stronger team than in years past.
“I think the biggest difference for them from previous years has been innings 5 through 7,” Gibson said. “This year there is no panic in them. There is no chink in their armor, and there’s a vast amount of confidence that comes from their team in the late innings this year.”
With only two more games remaining in the regular season, no one knows for sure how far Windsor will go in the 4A state playoffs. However the season ends, coach Deal believes he’s played a small part in a great year.
While it would be easy to brag about personal accomplishments, the third-year coach shies away. A true team player, he believes it’s the people around him who’ve made this season one to remember.
“I don’t feel like I’ve done anything,” Deal said. “I love being here. I honestly feel it’s 100 percent the kids. My assistant coaches are excellent. I’m lucky that I get to be out here.”