If win No. 500 isn't evidence enough for Lake Travis (Austin) baseball coach Roy Kinnan, then the fact that both his children Ryan and Claire grew up to be coaches certainly is.
Coaching and teaching has been a very good life.
“You touch so many lives and you meet so many great people in this line of work,” said the 56-year-old who’s Cavaliers last week defeated
15-0 for win No. 500. “I’m glad my kids saw it that way too.”
Kinnan didn’t exactly see it when he started the journey. He just knew he loved baseball and his wife Liz.
After starring as a catcher and utility man himself at Tulsa Central High School, College of Southern Idaho and Dallas Baptist University, he and Liz (they met in college) began the long road at MacArthur (Irving) in the 70s.
Three high schools - Crockett (Austin), Anderson (Austin) and Dulles (Sugar Land) - and a junior college gig later, the Kinnan family landed at Lake Travis seven years ago and the warm and gregarious coach thought he landed in Shangri La.
“I can’t say enough good things about Lake Travis,” said Kinnan, also an assistant football coach for the three-time defending state 4A champions. “From the principals to the athletic director, the entire administration, the community involvement, it’s just a great place to be. And, of course, the kids are great too."
The last two seasons the Cavaliers have been a combined 61-17 and the last three years they’ve won district. They’re 4-3 in the early campaign, but Kinnan doesn’t put a lot of stock into nonleague records.
He’s taken plenty of lumps in his career – he’s lost 345 times – to see the forest through the trees.
That said, he's made the playoffs 22 times in his career that has spanded 34 seasons and 165 of his players earned college scholarships. He also won a 5A state title as coach of Dulles.
“I play a lot of kids,” he said. “I want to find out what the team is made of, what they can do. Baseball is a game of situations and the kids can’t figure them out unless they are out there playing. We want the players to find their roles and that takes some time to iron that out.”
Some of his mainstays last year were pitcher Dylan Mendoza (13-1 last year, 10 complete games, 125 strikeouts, 82.2 innings, 0.51 ERA), outfielder/pitcher Cohl Walla (.371 last season, 31 RBI, eight home runs), catcher/utility man Grant Gibbs (.538, nine doubles, five homers, 29 RBI) and shortstop Andy Holt (.417, nine doubles, 15 stolen bases).
Only Gibbs, now a junior, returns from that group after 16 from a 24-man roster graduated.
The team’s inexperienced has shown in the early going, but that’s all part of growing up, Kinnan said.
“I’m real pleased with the group thus far,” he said. “We’re younger for sure, but we have some talent for sure.”
And surely, Kinnan will make the most of it – this year, the next and many to come.
“I got 400 here in 2006 and if I stay healthy, and they keep me around, I hope to get No. 600 here also,” he said. “This is where I want to finish my career.”