Two thousand and eighteen saw several firsts for the Whiteoak Wildcats varsity baseball team and Head Coach Chris Veidt. The team advanced to the Ohio High School Athletic Association State Final Four, earned a No. 1 ranking in the state, had six players named All-Southeast District, five players selected as All-Ohio, two players stole at least 40 bases in the same season, and the Wildcats recorded 28 wins.
On Nov. 30, in St. Louis, Mo., Veidt and the team were able to add another first to the list when Veidt was honored by the National High School Baseball Coaches Association (NHSBCA) as the Region Four Coach of the Year.
Region Four is referred to as the Upper Midwest and encompasses Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.
Veidt will be on the bench for his 28th season when 2019 rolls around and this year’s team will have a lot to live up to following the epic run of the Wildcats in 2018.
When perusing the Whiteoak Baseball Honor Roll, available at www.blsd.us, it is easy to see why Veidt was selected for the honor. In addition to the accolades already mentioned above, Whiteoak also established several team and individual records during the course of the season.
Offensively, the Wildcats had arguably their best season of the Veidt era as they set the record for runs in a season with 295, doubles with 67, walks with 185, RBIs with 231 and slugging percentage at .451.
Defensively, Whiteoak may have been even more impressive with a .942 fielding percentage, seven saves, and a 1.55 team ERA.
Veidt’s involvement with the NHSBCA came about because of its attractive insurance benefits that are packaged with the annual dues.
“It was an organization that has always had really good insurance benefits for camps with liability and things like that,” Veidt told The Times-Gazette. “Mostly that is what drew me to it in the early years. Since then, Tim Saunders, who is the current head coach at Dublin Coffman, became the president of the organization and he has tried to keep some Ohio guys involved.”
The Wildcat coach is thankful for the honor, but knows he would not have been able to achieve it without the players around him.
“Its just nice for people to recognize our kids’ accomplishments throughout the course of the year,” Veidt said. “On the kids’ behalf, the great thing about that was during the course of the regular season we got ranked number one in the state of Ohio in Division IV.
“Sometimes that gets kids and people to start thinking a little bit differently about how you go about your business. With our group it didn’t, it carried them through the post season. We had a real impressive run in the tournament and it was just a great year.”
“It means a lot to me. It was a great honor. But to me, it is about our kids. I mean, without them and without their performance, it doesn’t mean anything,” Veidt added.
The recognition for the school district and the region that comes with an honor of this magnitude is something that Veidt thinks will be a positive for everyone involved.
“Our school district, in my opinion, the last five years or so has made a gigantic jump for the better in terms or enrollment and things like that,” Veidt said. “I think it just brings eye recognition really to what we already have in terms of community support, the types of kids that we have and also the type of facilities. I mean, baseball wise in the state of Ohio, especially in southern Ohio, you are not going to find better facilities with the indoor we added last year and the outdoor facility we have had for quite some time.
“It just goes to show the hard work the community, the kids and myself have put into those facilities, and the use of them is paying off as well.”
The mantra of the Wildcats during the 2018 regular season and their subsequent run to the Final Four was “trust the process.” That is something that Veidt strongly believes in and tries to instill in his players.
“I know where we started and where we are now and where we’ve been, and there’s no guarantees. There’s no guarantees that you are going to be a fortunate as we were this past year and in other years,” Veidt said. “You work. That goes back to what we told the kids all year — you trust the process and the process is work for results one day at a time and eventually those days that you toil and work your craft, day by day, amounts to something bigger than you.”
Veidt is very satisfied with how things played out for his team in 2018 and the fact that the team’s hard work paid off.
“It really came to fruition this year, it’s very satisfying and it also speaks volumes for the type of kids I’m able to coach and the place I’m able to coach at,” said Veidt.
According to Veidt, the Wildcats’ tournament run through Lancaster and Beaver Field were extra special for him.
“What is really ironic and made it all a little more emotional for me when it was all going on — I was born in Lancaster,” Veidt said. “I spent a lot of time there growing up and playing Legion baseball at Beaver Field. It was surreal. It really was.
“Things are meant to be and I think sometimes it’s hard to get kids to understand that. But if you’re forthright, work hard, and you try to do the right things as often as you can it makes those life events even that much more sweet. Things happen for a reason.”
Ryan Applegate is the sports editor for The Times-Gazette. Reach Ryan Applegate at 937-402-2572, or on Twitter @RCApplegate89.