I have been a part of this school district my whole life. I graduated from UL, played three sports, and now I am coaching here. By saying this, I can assume I have been taught dedication, responsibility, loyalty, work ethic, and trying to send the right message to student-athletes. My point being since I have been around this school district all my life I can say I learned most of these traits if not all of them from UL. All traits that have gotten me to where I am in life now. I cannot thank the teachers, coaches, and administration enough for their efforts. However, I have also seen times change in sports. Everyone likes to win including myself and there is also more than winning in sports. The traits earlier mentioned are learned in sports. Anyone, who knows about sports, would agree that you learn a lot from sports. Team work, dedication, responsibility, courage, work ethic, etc. In other words you cannot just show up and assume you will win. This is how times have changed at UL.
The Board of Education is thinking of not “renewing” Coach Richard Mercer’s contract. Coach Mercer is not only a great coach but even a greater person and mentor. His dedication over the last 14 years is amazing. Our baseball field went from one of the worst fields in the valley to one that now hosts The Beast of the East and EOBL All-Star game. Most of all he has done this by himself or with the help of his father (Steve Mercer) or Mark Cisar. These three coaches are dedicated to making UL’s teams competitive and making the student-athlete realize what life lessons you learn from being on a team. Coach Mercer has put numerous hours into the baseball field but even more time to his players. Parents around UL believe if you’re a senior you should play over an underclassman. If the senior does not play over the underclassmen, the board or administration gets a call to complain about the situation. All athletes have gotten a “butt chewing” in their life in sports. It is a part of the game. It is a motivation tool to get kids to play as good as they possibly can and for them to show pride no matter what the score says. Have parents forgotten this? Or are parents and athletes getting “soft”? In the last ten years I would say yes. The Board of Education at Union Local could not have gone by wins and losses for this decision because he has double digit wins 6 of 7 years and an OVAC championship in that span. You have to put time and dedication to it. Coach Mercer has done this. I am proud to stand behind him. For the Board of Education, I will say you have given me opportunities that I am thankful for but you missed this one. He has given you 14 years of teaching student-athletes about the game of baseball and life. You could have given him 15 minutes face-to-face not by a phone call.
Coach Mercer, thank you for all of your support for the baseball team and as a friend over the last 10 years.