Coaching for a reason

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, May 27, 2014

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Cardinals coach Sonny Cravey gives his son, Jacob, a five during his team’s game Thursday night. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Coaching rec ball can sometimes be difficult, but for Cardinals coach Sonny Cravey, it’s been a rewarding and fulfilling experience so far.

Cravey, the coach of the 11-to-12-year-old Cal Ripken Cardinals baseball team, has been wearing the assistant or head cap in youth sports for about six years now. He started out as an assistant coach and then moved to the head-coaching spot later on.

How Cravey got into coaching was through his son, Jacob, who at 7 years old decided that he wanted to play ball.

“My son, he signed up to play T-ball,” Cravey said. “That year, I watched and a year after that, he started in machine pitch. I was an assistant for two years, and then he moved up to kid pitch (9 to 10 year olds) the year before.”

While baseball is Cravey’s main sport to coach, he also has dabbled in coaching youth basketball with long-time friend, Joey Langley.

It was the year before Jacob started playing in the kid pitch league that Cravey joined Langley to help coach basketball.

“We were sitting there at tryouts for basketball one night, and I told Joey, ‘if you do it (coach), then I’ll help you,’” Cravey said. “He (Langley) called me that night and he said ‘alright, we’re coaching.’”

From that moment on, the coaching duo developed a “very good friendship, a Christian-based friendship.”

“That’s one of the things I really enjoy out of it,” Cravey said. “A lot of the coach’s faith has grown. It builds a network and a bond.”

Cravey and Langley have been coaching basketball for four years, and have been coaching baseball ever since.

For quite a while, Cravey was Langley’s assistant coach in baseball. He got the chance to take the head job when Langley’s son, Brandon, had to stay down one league lower than Jacob last year.

This year, Cravey and Langley are back at it coaching the Cardinals.

Cravey said, if it wasn’t for coaching, then his faith wouldn’t have been as strong as it is today.

“You get to witnesses to one another,” he said. “I’m not dogging anybody out, but there are so many young men who do not have a strong and good influence.

“Yes, we pray before every game and after every game,” he said. “We never pray for victory. We pray that we can conduct ourselves in a manner to bring honor and glory to God.”

It takes a lot of patience and being firm with the kids in order to coach them, Cravey said.

“What I can teach them about baseball is never going to put them as a starter for the Andalusia Bulldogs; It’s never going to put them as a starter for the (LBWCC) Saints, the University of Alabama or the (Atlanta) Braves,” Cravey said. “If I can teach them life lessons about being committed to something, about being a good sportsman and good person, then I’ve accomplished what I set out to do.”

Cravey is married to Lisa, and has a daughter, Candace, who just finished her freshman year at the University of Alabama. Jacob is 12 years old.