Coach ‘torn’ about retirement

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David Minton/DRC
Longtime volunteer youth sports coach Dan Leifing is pictured on a diamond Tuesday in Corinth. Leifing is retiring after a 16-year coaching run in Denton, Corinth and Lewisville.

When his daughter, Kathleen, was 4 and enthused about entering the sport of gymnastics, Dan Leifing wanted to find an alternate way of connecting with his daughter.

She also was interested in basketball, tennis and baseball, so Leifing saw those as opportunities to coach her youth teams. He then discovered a love of coaching kids and the importance of giving back to his community, and he decided from the beginning that he was going to do it on a strictly volunteer basis.

“I thought, I can learn basketball, but teaching them about life lessons, positive attitudes, talking to them about work ethic, sportsmanship, how to win and how to lose — those things became so important to me,” Leifing said. “I thought I could have an impact on these kids even at 4 or 5 years old. … My goal was never to make a dime of it. I do it for the love of the kids and the love of the game. I just think it’s so fulfilling.”

Kat Leifing is now 20 and will be a junior at Texas State, so Dan Leifing has spent the last several years focusing on baseball with his son, Daniel.

But along with his full-time job as vice president and sales manager at Advent Air Conditioning, coaching Kat’s and Daniel’s teams began to catch up with him.

“That’s when it really got busy,” Dan Leifing said. “I was doing two basketball seasons, two baseball seasons and a tennis season all in one year. It was hectic, but it was so fulfilling. Some of the kids I had back then I had all the way up until this year.”

After 16 years, Leifing has decided to retire from coaching.

“I’m torn,” Leifing said. “Part of me says you can’t stop, but the other part says I need to stop. There are health and family reasons. I owe it to my wife and my family, and to some degree I owe it to myself. I feel like I’ve contributed a lot to the different programs.”

Even with all the late hours at the baseball diamond, Leifing said it was the support of his wife, Susan, that kept him motivated to continue coaching.

“The biggest blessing in this whole thing is my wife supported it all these years,” Leifing said. “She encouraged it, she never got upset with me and she understood why I was doing it. It was for the kids.”

Compiling winning campaigns in 36 of his 40 seasons, Leifing has coached all over Denton, Corinth and Lewisville.

He spent time with Denton Boys Baseball, the YMCA, Lewisville Baseball Association, Lake Cities Baseball Association and now Corinth Area Baseball Association, where he coaches Daniel and helped start the Corinth Crushers, a traveling select team.

Since founding the Crushers five years ago, Leifing has filled several roles for the organization, always staying late for anyone who needed help.

Leifing said he felt like it was time to start thinking about the organization’s future, so that meant stepping down as president.

“It got to the point where I saw the positive things we had done the first four years and I thought, I’m getting older,” Leifing said. “I need to get parents that can stick with the program longer. I felt like I did it for the right reasons because I knew I wasn’t going to be around forever. I finally told them it was time to retire as a coach. I want to be able to enjoy my family, but I’m here if you need me.”

Always going to his father for hitting advice despite Dan’s proclamation that he cannot hit himself, Daniel, who is 16 and hoping to make the Lake Dallas varsity team, said he is going to miss all the fun they’ve had together.

“He will be up in the stands cheering me on, but it will different,” Daniel Leifing said. “Me and him connect. It’s going to be weird not being able to talk to him about stuff on the field. It will be cool to see him back at home chilling with us.”

While Leifing has preached the importance of helping other children with athletics, he has appreciated how it has brought his family together.

“It’s kind of been an important bond within our family, and it can be good for people in it for the right reasons,” Leifing said. “Parents are so focused on their own kids. We need parents that care about all the kids. I was harder on my own kids than I was on anybody. We need more parents that are willing to step up for the good of society and the good of the kids, not their own kid. That’s what we’re missing today.”

PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873 and via Twitter at @PatrickHayslip.


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