California Pintos softball head coach Steven Stock was named this year's coach of the year for the Tri-County Conference.
The team, which finished the year with a record of 19-5, has improved every year since Stock became the head coach in 2017. In 2017, the team finished with a record of 11-15, and in 2018, the team ended the season with a record of 15-10.
"We were able to do well in the conference and win a lot of ball games," Stock said.
Stock said winning the award showed the team had a good group of athletes.
"Anytime you are working with kids when you are trying to come in and teach them how to play any game and they buy into what you are saying and get better, of course it makes me feel good and proud and confident in what I am doing and what my job is," Stock said. "But again, you have to have good kids, and when good kids are coachable, you can make progress, and that is kind of where we have been."
Stock had been coaching softball for 27 years before coming to California. Stock is also the head baseball coach for the Pintos.
Stock played multiple sports in high school, including football, basketball and baseball. Eventually, he played baseball in college. Stock said his goal was to be a professional baseball player — in his second year of college, he had a tryout for the Cincinnati Reds. Though the tryout did not end in the result he wanted, Stock said he realized coaching would allow him to stay around the game.
"That kind of led my path into coaching," Stock said.
Stock said there are two things in particular he enjoys about coaching. The first is trying to gel the different groups of students that make up the team.
"Some are just there to enjoy being there every day, some that come out are serious about it and want to play at the next level," Stock said.
The other thing is trying to help the players grow as people.
"One of the things we take pride in (about) our coaching staff is giving the kids more than just softball, trying to help them become better young adults," Stock said.
Helping his players in that regard is gratifying for Stock.
"Over the years, I have had several times — in fact even coming down here — I've got a few students that are in this area who have played ball when I coached them years ago," Stock said. "I have had them come to games since I have been here in California, and I ran into some of them and some have called me. Just having kids look back and having that long time relationship. That you have helped them along the way and being able to see them again and see them be successful adults, that is gratifying."
Stock said he coaches because he loves it.
"I love transferring the knowledge I have to those kids," Stock said. "Seeing them improve and get better. I am passionate about the game of softball and baseball as well. (Coaching) allows me to stay around it and hopefully give the players some knowledge of the game and my experiences that I can pass on to them, that they can use as they go through high school and head into the next phase of their lives."