By Jim Goorman
Local Sports Journal
How do you replace a hall of fame icon coach of 32 years?
Mona Shores will have to do just that after Walt Gawkowski announced his resignation recently. He will step down after this season, which continues this weekend when the Sailors compete in regional competition.
“I am not retiring from coaching, I will be coaching again someday at perhaps a sub level position,” said Gawkowski.
His career has revolved around his love affair with baseball. He is completing his 10th year at Mona Shores after coaching 17 years at North Muskegon and five at Muskegon Catholic.
His teams have won 374 games and still counting.
“The demands of being a head coach does not interest me anymore,” Gawkowski said. The demands on a coach include winter conditioning, watching his kids play, attending camps and conducting weight training. He will continue to work at his assistant principal position at Shores for probably one more year.
“I just know in my heart that it is the right time to do this,” said Gawkowski. “I have enjoyed working with the kids and I always wanted to make a difference with them. Winning was special, but I wanted the kids to play as hard as they could with energy and caring for each other.”
That philosophy has made him a special coach over his tenure at the 3 schools.
The present Mona Shores team is a special group as it won the district at Kenowa Hills and hoping to give their coach a regional title on Saturday.
“I felt good for the seniors winning the districts and I would like nothing better than these kids to win it all this year,” Gawkowski said. “These kind of events will create great memories at 10-year reunions for the kids.”
Gawkowski feels fortunate to go into the Michigan Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame later this month. He believes that his philosophy of teaching his players to play baseball the right way and working hard is at the core of his coaching success.
Gawkowski gives a lot of his coaching accolades to his players, but also to his assistant coaches beginning with Jim Moyes, a longtime supporter of North Muskegon and Greater Muskegon sports. They spent 15 years together coaching the Norsemen and they had a lot of fun working the fields and just talking baseball together.
His present assistants also were lauded by Gawkowski as he gave special recognition to Bill Lent and Kyle Baker, who have been loyal assistants and good friends.
His wife, Joan has really been supportive during his coaching career and “she is sort of sad to see this resignation from coaching.”
Who knows what the future will bring for a guy who has a love affair for baseball and for teaching kids to play the game the right way.