Letter: Regarding Coach Jeff Sears

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Coach Sears had a sense of humor, and also a very competitive fire. Some days, those qualities would intersect.

One day during my summer at freshman baseball camp, I was behind the plate-catching Coach. Everyday when he would warm-up, he would finish with a knuckleball. It was one of the nastiest pitches I’ve ever seen. On this particular day, I caught the knuckleball, and came up with the brilliant idea to throw one back to him. It left my hand, and immediately dropped. Coach Sears stabbed at the ball with his glove, but he missed. The ball hit him in the shoulder and he stumbled off the back of the pitcher’s mound and screamed “OWWWW” The very next pitch, the batter came up to the plate. During batting practice, it was guaranteed a strike was coming your way.

I don’t know what got into him that day, but he decided to throw me a fastball that short hopped in the dirt. I got down on my knees to block it, and the ball hit me right in the chest. I looked up at him (somewhat shocked) and he had the biggest smile you’ll ever see on his face. I smiled back at him, still struggling to get back on my feet, and he said “Don’t worry Jones, that was intentional. I don’t miss by that much.”

The death of Coach Sears was shocking and disheartening for the baseball community, and for Laguna as a whole. In the days following his death, I’ve read many beautiful tributes. The most frequent conversation is “How will these boys get on without their leader?” As a girl playing a male-dominant sport, Coach Sears gave me the one thing I’ve always asked for in baseball: an equal opportunity to earn a spot. From the moment I stepped foot on his field last summer, I was treated the same as everyone else. To Coach, team means family. We all had to earn our way, but it was fair, and it was equal. Coach gave tough love, but he gave love. His goal was always to make each one of us the best version of ourselves. To him, it never mattered if you were a starting pitcher, or a 5th inning pinch hitter. You were important to him and he was important to us.

The world has lost a beautiful person, but Heaven is a bit brighter with the arrival of Coach Sears. Coach, we play for you.

Presley Jones
9th Grader at Laguna Beach High School

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