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08/19/2022 02:39 PM

Powers Made a Great Call to Return to Coaching

Keith Powers got back into coaching with the Clinton Huskies’ 17-U AAU baseball program and enjoyed helping the team’s players sharpen their skills in the sport. Photo courtesy of Keith Powers

Keith Powers thought that his coaching career was coming to a close in 2018 after having coached baseball, football, and basketball for more than 35 years. However, a few years later, Keith received a call from CJ Caprio, the head coach of the Clinton Huskies’ 17-AAU baseball team, asking him if he was interested in joining the program’s coaching staff. For Keith, joining forces with Caprio and fellow coach Russ Green—two people he had coached when they played baseball and basketball many years ago—would shape up to be an experience unlike any other.

Keith, a Clinton resident, played baseball and football at Bristol Eastern High School before beginning his coaching career when he was 18. In 1983, Keith partnered up with a friend to coach Little League baseball in Bristol. Keith wanted to use his passion for sports to teach the same valuable lessons to his players that his coaches had taught him during his playing career.

“I’m passionate about sports and the lessons that it teaches you outside of the field. I’ve had some great influences in my life who were coaches,” says Keith, 57. “It wasn’t just about the stuff on the field that they taught me, but just life lessons. Hopefully, it will be able to impact people the same way that some of these guys impacted me.”

With his full-time job, Keith moved around the country and coached whenever and wherever he got his chance. In 2011, Keith was settled in Clinton and asked to oversee the Clinton Huskies’ baseball program. He also joined the Morgan baseball team’s coaching staff as an assistant for the high school season. In 2018, Keith left both programs, and Willie Fritz took over the role that he held with the Clinton Huskies.

“A big part of what the Huskies’ program has been was about perpetuating what we were trying to do with the high school continuing to work with the kids with things that we thought were important at the high school level,” Keith says. “I’ve always been involved with coaching. I love coaching for multiple reasons.”

Earlier this year, Keith received a phone call from Coach Caprio to see if he had any interest in helping out the Clinton Huskies’ 17-U team. Keith thought about it and was then asked again shortly before the season began. Keith showed up to the first practice and was ready to lend a hand in an assistant coach’s role. It meant a lot to Keith to coach the Huskies while standing in the same dugout as two of his former players.

“To be coaching with guys you coach is really pretty cool. That, for me, was very rewarding,” says Keith. “It was interesting to hear them coaching the kids and seeing some of the things they did were things that I tried to give them while I was coaching them. If I closed my eyes, I could hear me talking when they were talking. The good news was I guess they were listening and that meant something to them.”

Keith’s positivity kept the Huskies churning and working hard during the 2022 summer campaign. Coach Caprio says that Keith’s demeanor left a lasting impact on Clinton’s players.

“He just brings so much experience to the table. He knows exactly how to communicate with everybody. He’s just somebody I leaned on all year,” Caprio says of Keith. “I see a different side of him when I’m coaching with him, rather than when I’m playing for him. I was really happy to be able to do it with him.”

Keith feels proud of the Huskies for how much they progressed as the season unfolded. Keith saw the team get better in all aspects of game while displaying great sportsmanship this summer.

“I was happy with the effort overall and the way we conducted ourselves,” Keith says.

Keith began a new chapter in his coaching career after getting the call from Caprio. Keith enjoyed working with Caprio and the Huskies’ athletes and is willing to continue coaching as long as he can fully devote himself to his team.

Keith has seen the life of a baseball coach evolve into something different throughout his 35-plus years in the game. Keith made some adjustments to his coaching style with the Huskies, but continued to emphasize the same important lessons that he’s always taught his players. The biggest reward that Keith gets from coaching is the ability to make a difference in their lives.

“Someone said to me a long time ago, ‘You don’t know what kind of impact you have had on my son.’ You don’t really think about that. You’re coaching, but you do want it to be about more than wins and losses, skill development, and things like that,” says Keith. “You want to model good behavior. For me, it’s about seeing young boys become men. You hope that some of the things you taught them help them in their lives. It goes way beyond just coaching.”