Gregg Wikierak spent 22 years as the baseball coach at Marian Central before retiring in 2011. After two years away from coaching – but not baseball – Wikierak, who spent 32 years working in high school baseball, is in his first year as an assistant coach at McHenry County College for one of his former Marian players, Jared Wacker.
If retiring was for good, then so be it. But I knew I wanted to get away for a couple of years – not from Marian necessarily, but just from coaching. The two years I was retired, I made a point of going back and watching a couple of Marian Central games. The other thing I attempted to do was to go watch some of my players who had graduated from Marian who were in college playing and my son is one of the varsity coaches at St. Charles North. So I was getting my fix of baseball through those different avenues. Even though I was separated from it, I was still there. And being there, there’s certain things you miss. It’s not just being on the field and it’s not just being around the kids. But there’s a variety of things you miss as a coach. You miss the interactions and the teaching and the camaraderie. Those are the things you miss not being on the field.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I think all coaches would love to coach in a position with great opportunity. I think in the years that Jared has been at McHenry County (College), he’s done some really good things with the program. Being a high school coach for over 30 years, college is one of the next steps. So with the opportunity and being that (MCC) it is close to home, it fit in with my schedule, everything really fell into place. It seemed like everything was funneling me to the position. When [Wacker] asked me, I wanted to say ‘yes’ as soon as he asked me. But I wanted some perspective from other people in my life. I sat down with all my kids and talked to my wife and just threw [the opportunity] out in front of them. I wanted to know if they thought it would be good or bad and what their perspective was of me while I was coaching and when I was retired. Everything was really positive.
A lot of friends of mine said, ‘You’ve been a head coach too long’ and ‘There’s no way you could be someone’s assistant.’ They all know my personality and a lot of people told me (because) I’m a real competitor, they thought it would be hard for me to sit back and be the second fiddle or the third fiddle. But being a coach, you always want to be at the highest level and you want to be able to get the most out of what you do. But for me, it’s a very easy transition to work with someone else.
Hopefully, I have something to offer the team and if I can do that, obviously, that’s what coaching is all about. If you can make the kids better not only in baseball, but in all things, that’s what you want. There’s so many things that happen in athletics that pertain to life in general – the positives and the negatives and the ups and the downs. [Coaching] is something that has always been very special to me and with an opportunity to get back into it, the fact that it has been in my life and the fact it fit into my schedule with my family and my life, it seemed like it was the right opportunity at the right time.
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