‘I’m just a dentist,’ says world champion coach
By Dennis Davidson
Rowan Little League softball team’s run to the world championship has thrust the head coach, Dr. Steve Yang, into the spotlight.
He has been asked countless times about the “tanking” of a pool play game by the West region champ that has received coverage from the British Broadcasting Corporation to the New York Times to the ESPN talking head shows.
Still, Yang remains humble and deflects the credit to the girls on the team and assistant coaches Rob Hales and Eric Dowling. On Wednesday morning, Yang posted a thank you to the hundreds of well-wishers on his Facebook page, saying “good players make good coaches. I’m just a dentist.”
Any successful athletic program from the pros on down will tell you that one of the most important keys to success is continuity. The Rowan Little League coaches have that, having been together the last four years.
“We’re really like co-coaches most of the time,” said Yang. “We rely on each other and most situations that come up are group decisions. And we get along great on and off the field. We’ve become close friends.”
Yang said that he and Hales handle most of the organizational chores while Dowling is more of a players’ coach. That makes sense, as Dowling is the dugout coach during games when Yang is in the third base coaching box and Hales is at first base.
According to Hales, he handles the infield, Dowling coaches the outfielders and Yang handles the offense and calls pitches.
Hales and Yang reverse roles with their travel team, the Rowan Razorbacks. Hales is the head coach of that squad and it’s where the two first teamed up.
“We’ve been with most of these girls since they were 8 years old,” said Hales. “Seven of them play on the Razorbacks and Steve and Eric help me with that team. Steve has been the coach of the Little League team for four years and it has all really worked out great.”
Hales, as most coaches, is optimistic and positive most of the time. But even he admits that a world championship was not expected.
“Honestly, we had confidence in these girls, but you never think it can happen — that you can get all the way here (World Series),” said Hales. “You have to be good as a team but also, have a lot of things go your way at the same time.”
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