Mazey reflects on his career as WVU coach – The Inter-Mountain

Jun 10, 2024
Photo courtesy of Randy Mazey coached his final game at WVU in Saturday’s loss to North Carolina in NCAA Super Regional play. Mazey is retiring.
MORGANTOWN — To Randy Mazey, it never was about the wins and losses or hits and strikeouts, this idea that he was a baseball coach.
People might have believed that during his 12 years at West Virginia he was coaching baseball, a sport, and that it was the most important thing in the world, but it didn’t work that way with him and he wanted to make sure it wouldn’t work that way with his players.
He wasn’t coaching baseball, he was coaching life.
Relationships, that really is what it was all about and, if you think of it yourself in whatever your walk of life is, it’s no different.
That was where the conversation went after his West Virginia Mountaineers were eliminated from the North Carolina Super Regional of the NCAA Tournament, sending him off into retirement with a 2-1 defeat to the Tar Heels.
But he accepted the defeat because he was surrounded by people – players, coaches, university administrators, university staff and 1.8 million West Virginians he won over in his 12 years, not because he was a successful baseball coach but because he was a genuine man who cared about his family, his players and his adopted state.
“I told the guys who were in that huddle with me out there, in 35 years of coaching that’s the team I want to end my career with. I love every one of them and I think they know that,” he said.
“The way we coach is I tell them ‘I don’t care if you don’t get hits or if you don’t throw strikes. I’m not going to love you any less. When kids feel that way it allows them to play with freedom and have some fun.
“So all you Little League parents and Little League coaches out there, love your kids whether they get hits or not because it’s important to them to know that the people in their lives love them more as people than they love them as players.”
In a college world where money now rules and winning is the measuring stick, Mazey is an aberration.
From the moment he was hired to revive a forgotten program asit moved into the Big 12 and into a new stadium, he was an adopted son of the state. It wasn’t a put on, it was real that he was one of them.
Why did they like him?
“Maybe you should ask other people. My daddy was a coal miner and we are in a coal mining state. That’s my background. I really love the people of West Virginia … Blue collar, hard-working, that’s how we built this program, playing with a chip on your shoulder and being the underdog. We thrive in that atmosphere.
“I’d much rather coach a program that’s an underdog than a favorite. It’s been so much fun. The 12 years have been ….”
Words were replaced with tears at this moment as the reality of the moment set in.
“These 12 years have been unbelievable. I told the guys going into this season ‘Don’t try and put statistical goals on yourself. Don’t try to hit .300 or win 10 games. Your goal should be every year to exceed expectations’ and we’ve done that.
“That’s why they should be proud.”
And he was proud of the job he had done.
“Personally, people say ‘Leave something better than you found it.’ Well, I can feel good moving on in my career that we have made 1.8 million people in this state of West Virginia proud of this program.
“I wouldn’t, in any way shape or form take credit for that. I’m smart enough to surround myself with good people and that’s been the secret sauce. It’s been the people. I’m an emotional guy.”
By now, Mazey had recovered his composure and was getting back to his normal self, to his dry humor.
“You may see my daughter crying like a baby back there. I think she’s crying because now I have to spend a lot more time with her,” he said.
The truth is, he’s retiring to spend more time with his family, to watch his son play his final year of high school baseball then come to West Virginia to play.
He exits happily, despite the loss, and he wants his players to see it that way, too.
Asked what he would remember about the final two days of his coaching career, he offered up a quick joke.
“I had some good sushi last night,” he said, but quickly turned serious. “The things that I don’t forget and what I tell these guys is that when they are my age they are not going to remember the scores of these games. I promise you that. I can’t remember the score of any game I ever played in, but I remember my teammates, the special moments and these guys will do the same.
“I remember spending time on airplanes and hotels and lobbies and restaurants and buses. Those are the memories I’m going to take with me. We had a lot of fun. One thing I’m really proud of is I think our players have fun playing baseball at West Virginia.”
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