A teaching spirit

Published 12:53 pm Monday, August 1, 2005

By By Tim Cottrell
(Editor's note: This is the 12th in a series of 17 candid interviews with managers of Cal Ripken and Babe Ruth Baseball. The interviews will appear in each issue of the Advance through mid-August.)
There's an old saying that goes "Those who can't do…teach.".
While the validity of that claim is still up in the air, it certainly doesn't apply to Chris Wilson, manager of the Cal Ripken T-Ball McKinley's Auto Service Oilers, the Cal Ripken Baseball Rotary Club Tigers, and the Atmore 11-year-old All-Stars.
Wilson spends his days away from the park training employees at Solutia, Inc., in Pensacola, and then follows that up by going to the ballpark to train young ballplayers.
"I work at Solutia," Wilson said. "I train people in the control room to run the processing. I've been down there about 12 years now."
That teaching spirit also translates to Wilson's coaching style.
"I want to teach them to have fun," he said. "But I also try to teach the fundamentals. You try to have fun, but you've got to win to do that; so I try to put us in a position to win. You can't always win, but I do my best to teach them all the fundamentals and put the best team together to have a chance to win. Everybody wants to play, but you can't play everybody. I try to get everybody in for at least an inning in the field or an at-bat; but you can't play a kid in a position he can't play. It makes things that much worse."
Wilson has two sons, Dustin, 11, who he coached with the Tigers, and Stephen, 7, who he coached with the Oilers.
Much like his counterparts, Wilson finds little time for hobbies.
"I like to go hunting and fishing sometimes," he said. "I used to play softball some, but they don't have that around here much, anymore. I messed up both my ankles playing, too, so I can't really do that anymore."
Also mirroring other coaches, Wilson was drawn to coaching by two main factors.
"I always loved playing baseball growing up," he said. "I played when I was young. And I wanted to be there with my boys when they started playing."

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