Coach Scott's first win in 2017
When Scott Tuchman became the Head Coach of the Varsity Boys/Non-Binary Students Baseball Team for Calhoun in 2017, he had one goal in mind: to win a championship. Many thought his goal was too ambitious for the team he had in front of him; they hadn’t won a single game in the previous year, and only one game in 2017. But Scott wasn’t discouraged; he knew that practice, resilience, teamwork and a philosophical change could bring them success.
A self-proclaimed tough coach, Scott moved his attention away from winning games to mastering the basics of baseball and teamwork, one of the core values of Calhoun Athletics. He believed habits like being punctual, properly dressed in uniform and running to first base must become second nature for a championship team:
“My philosophy was striving to be very good at easy things. Make sure your sneakers are tied properly. Bring your equipment. Be punctual. We had good athletes, but we were really undisciplined; I wanted to focus on staying disciplined, and then everything else would fall into place,” said Coach Scott.
Baseball's Florida trip in 2018
With the basics and discipline acquired, Coach Scott moved on to teamwork. Teamwork is a huge cornerstone of the Calhoun Athletics program, so Scott wanted to make sure he devoted time to team-bonding and building team chemistry. In the 20 weeks leading up to the season, Scott scheduled workouts in a nearby gym so the athletes get stronger, but also so they could spend more time together. Calhoun also established a trip to Florida every March so they could play baseball in warm weather and face out-of-state competition. Thanks to this dedicated off-season training, the student-athletes became stronger, faster, gained more experience on the field, and became closer with one another. For the younger players on the team this time also helped them create close bonds with their older teammates:
“Our practice, workouts, and our Florida trip were the best opportunities for team bonding. When I was an 8th grader on the Varsity team, I felt intimidated at first, but living, eating meals and practicing with my older teammates all the time helped me settle in. This time together also helped all of Calhoun Athletics’ core values [self-awareness, teamwork, empathy, resilience] to emerge naturally,” said Mateo S. ‘22, a senior pitcher.
These team-building experiences are one great example of the team working on their game off the field. By getting closer, they got everyone involved in the team and ensured everyone’s voice was heard, thus building a trust they could bring to their competition. Additionally, they developed bonds that will extend further than the baseball diamond:
“My baseball teammates are not just teammates. They're some of my closest friends and I've gotten to know some really awesome people. The Calhoun Baseball family has grown tremendously, not just in size, but in strength, energy and heart. I love my teammates and I'm going to be close with them long after we graduate,” said Palmer P. ‘23.
With their chemistry fully formed, the team’s confidence was at an all-time high. They knew that their teamwork would be the key to their success. But unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 season was canceled, and the 2021 season was shortened. COVID also took its toll on team-building amongst the players; they were no longer able to take their annual Florida trip to practice, play out-of-state teams and have time to bond before the season. But the team did not get discouraged; they remained close and dedicated to being resilient against these challenges.
The 2022 season was the perfect moment. While COVID proved to be an obstacle that sidelined some players, they always found a way to persevere. They finished the season with a 15-3 record, one of the best Varsity Baseball records in the last 10 years. They fought their way through the playoffs, and ended up at the championship game against Columbia Prep, the same team that handed Coach Scott his very first loss as a Cougar.
Coach Scott with his team during the 2022 NYCAL Championship
The Calhoun Varsity Boys/Non-Binary Students Baseball Team defeated Columbia Prep 5-1 on May 13, 2022 to win the 2022 NYCAL Championship. Scott couldn’t help but reflect on the team’s resilience and their journey:
“Everyone told me winning a championship was impossible, and our chances were a million to one. But I felt the kids I had were one in a million. I knew that with the right work ethic we’d get here. We learned after every loss and kept growing. The joy of seeing the parents and the kids after our win, it was wonderful,” he said.
Mateo S. ‘22 pitched a full game in the big win. As it was his last year on the team, it was an emotional and poetic way to wrap up his baseball career at Calhoun. He reflected:
“It was amazing. After five years on this team, seeing Coach Scott build his team from the ground up and having all the players around us help out in every way, it was really satisfying to see us accomplish our goal. The atmosphere at our championship game was incredible too; I’ve played hundreds of games, I’ve never been in a game that had that much energy.”
As for the future of this team, the sky's the limit. Mateo S. ‘22 was a top recruit and will continue his baseball career in college. Coach Scott hopes that this season becomes a major turning point in the program, and they can continue to add more championship banners to their wall. Two claps for Varsity Baseball!