Even with win 400, Black Hawk coach not playing the field
In a profession that sees a lot of movement, Arnie Chavera has been happy staying put.
The Black Hawk College baseball coach is in his 13th year at the helm and has heard about the struggles his coaching friends have had when that stability hasn’t been there.
“Right now, I'm very fortunate to be where I'm at,” Chavera told the Rock Island Today.
He’s earned his right to stay by winning – a lot. Chavera recorded his 400th career win on April 1 when his Braves downed Highland 7-2 at home.
Chavera said he appreciated reaching the milestone.
“You just don't know, in terms of longevity, how long you're going to be in one spot, so I feel very fortunate,” he said.
According to his online bio page, Chavera guided the Braves to nine Arrowhead Conference titles and seven Region IV sectional championships in his previous 12 seasons.
His initial journeys into the game started in his native home of Arlington, Texas, when he and his father, Arnoldo, would take advantage of some free baseball. Chavera said he grew up about 10 minutes from Texas Rangers stadium, and if there were a game going on, his father — who regularly listened to the games on the radio — would ask him if he wanted to go to the park.
“After the fifth inning, they'd open up the gates, so you didn't have to buy a ticket,” Chavera said.
Chavera went to Navarro Junior College in Corsicana, Texas, to play for two seasons before moving on to Dallas Baptist. After one season, he joined the Houston Astros organization as a catcher. In five minor league seasons, he batted .281 with 61 home runs, earning some All-Star honors along the way.
His experience playing in junior college baseball gave him an appreciation for that level that has helped him in his coaching career, especially with the energy level.
“The opportunities to move on to the next level whatever it may be — whether it's the Major League Baseball Draft; Division I, II or III; or NAIA — kids are looking to move on, so it's a transition step, and there's a lot of energy that comes with that,” he said.
Chavera said he has improved a lot as a coach, particularly with his patience and adjusting to the players, which includes reading their body language.
“You'll get those kids that sometimes they're hard, they struggle with the eye contact and wonder if you're reaching them, but deep down inside they really do want to be coached or they would not be here …,” he said.
This year's squad has gotten off to a strong start, going 18-3 through April 9. The team is “a special group,” the coach said, with solid leadership up and down the roster.
“I like where we're at right now,” Chavera said.