Coach: Glenview Youth Baseball won't be the same without longtime coach, administrator
You take Tim Heublein away from our Glenview Youth Baseball program, it's like taking the raisins out of the Raisin Bran, like taking the green out of St. Patrick's Day, like taking the Y out of the YMCA, or -- worst of all -- like taking the stuffing out of Thanksgiving dinner. He is that much a part of our community's youth baseball program.
But that is exactly what GYB will have to deal with now that the longtime player, umpire, coach and administrator has announced he is leaving the board after 27 years and being part of the program for close to 40 years.
"Don't worry," says the 48-year-old father of six children. "I won't be a stranger. I love this program too much, so I told the coaches and board members, even though I am not coaching anymore, and even though I am no longer on the board, I'll still be out there at the fields, still be cheering on the teams, still offering my support. In fact, I will probably be the one pacing nervously back and forth behind the backstop."
Heublein started his long connection with Glenview Youth Baseball as a young T-ball player back in the early 1980s. And his first coach? Your friendly writer here! Now, to say I remember that team and Heublein back then might be a bit of a stretch, but I definitely recall him competing in various Glenview Park District sports programs as a youngster, and I remember well his always-energetic and enthusiastic participation -- whatever the sport or activity might have been.
But baseball was always his first love, and Heublein was a dedicated GYB participant all the way through Pony League. In his early teens, he was umpiring younger kids' games before starting his high school career at GBS, where he played all four years for the Titans, manning first base, third base, catcher, and right field at various times during his career.
"Great experience playing for the Titans," recalls Heublein. "I really learned the game and what it takes to be successful. I give much credit to Coach Jack Adams for putting in so much extra time and work with me and, even more important, instilling in me a positive attitude that I could accomplish anything I wanted to if I set my goals high enough. His positive tone and encouragement kind of became a cornerstone for my own coaching philosophy later on."
When Heublein left for college, his love for and participation in GYB didn't end. After freshman year of college he returned in the summer and coached a Pony League team, and that was just the beginning of a long and rewarding coaching career.
"30 years," says the veteran coach. "Hard to believe, but it has been 30 years of coaching various teams at all different age levels. I have loved it every step of the way."
It should be mentioned here that only a couple of his own kids have played in the program, so Heublein was often coaching teams with no family affiliation -- instead just doing it for pure love of the game.
"Very rewarding, and maybe best of all, after all these years of coaching is the connections I have made with so many Glenview families. Many of the kids come back just to say hello, or they will see you out at the fields and stop by to talk. Or even better, when you are coaching them and you finally see that light go on, that more than anything is what I have enjoyed about the many years of coaching."
It has been an amazing three-decade coaching run for Heublein, but that is only a small part of his story.
It is his years on the GYB board as an administrator where he has had the greatest impact. His board career started right out of college when he was asked to join -- by far the youngest on the board -- due to his dedication to the program.
Despite his youth, he made his impact there almost immediately.
It was Heublein who, at the tender young age of 24, first discovered the accounting errors that led to a major GYB financial scandal at the time. GYB eventually ended up recouping all the money that was taken, but it was their youngest board member who led that particular charge, and after that didn't really let up for the next 27 years.
Over that time Heublein has served two terms as board president, been the treasurer for the program, and served as director of the Patriot Travel program. He was instrumental in starting the Buddy Baseball Program in Glenview, along with fellow board member Jim McManus.
Buddy Baseball pairs GYB players with individuals with developmental disabilities, allowing them to enjoy the game of baseball while making friends with their peers.
He was also a big part of the development of the Community Park West Baseball Fields, now the home of Glenview Youth Baseball.
"Really proud of that one," say Heublein. "It was a long battle against some pretty strong odds, but somehow we found a way to get those fields built and dedicated to our baseball program, and I think now it is considered one of the best baseball complexes in the entire state of Illinois."
My personal observation of watching Heublein over the years would be thus: He has the rare combination of passion for the game; the ability to connect with people; a certain natural "presence" that allows him to get respect from other coaches, parents and adults; and a sense of humor and ability to have fun along the way.
Put all that together, and you have the recipe for success, which has been the mainstay of his many years in the program.
This particular story would not be complete without the mention of the true behind-the-scenes hero -- his wife Rhonda. When you have six kids at home, and dad is out coaching, there has to be a rock solid support system back home.
"None of this could have happened without Rhonda," says Heublein. "She has been a great supporter, a stabilizing force for our family, and I absolutely couldn't have done it without her. Many of the players know Rhonda and still say 'Hi' to her, because she would come to a lot of the games."
So how does GYB go on without the longtime baseball icon?
"It will be tough," says current board member Steve Rasmussen. "Tim has been valuable in so many different aspects of our program, and his ability to juggle a lot of balls at the same time has been a real asset for us. Tim also has a wealth of knowledge about the program, so that will be missed as well."
But again, not to worry. Heublein won't be too far away. Probably lurking in the background somewhere.
So, during next year's baseball season, if you are at a game, and see a strange unaffiliated man pacing the sidelines, nervously watching all the action, maybe go up to him, tap him on the shoulder, and say, "Thanks, Coach Heublein. Thanks for all you have done."
• Jon Cohn of Glenview is a coach, retired PE teacher, sports official and prep sports fan. To contact him with comments or story ideas, email email@example.com.