It's going to be strange not seeing Rick Harig in the Fairview dugout this season.

After several decades of coaching the Fairview baseball team, Harig has decided to hang up the cleats and move on to something else. The veteran coach will not be easy to replace, nor will the rewarding feeling that kept him with the Knights for so many years.

"It's kind of a weird feeling because you've done it for so long," Harig said. "It's different but I am going to coach my son's 14-U team. That will be kind of fun to coach my own kid, which feels like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

One perk of stepping down as head coach at Fairview High is that he is now free of a state rule that prevented him from coaching any of the Knights' feeder programs. He is now eligible to coach his son's team for the upcoming season.

Harig began coaching the Knights in summer of 1983. Other than taking a three-year break to work on skills and mental development with the San Diego Padres and several colleges, he has been with the school since. He coached the Knights to a state title in 1993 and went 37-7 in his final two seasons at the helm.

The veteran coach has also helped mentor numerous players who have gone on to play after high school, including recent graduate and 2015 Colorado Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year winner Ryan Madden, who is a freshman at Oklahoma.

Having retired from teaching last year, Harig has since started his own company that focuses on developing the mental aspect of sports performance. He has also been working as a keynote conference speaker. His talks relate to baseball but focus more generally on mental toughness.

"I retired as a teacher and that sort of started it," Harig said. "That got me thinking about what I'd do in my next life. I started doing these keynote speaking on performance and that went so well that I decided I wanted to give that some energy."

Since 18-year veteran coach Frank Lee retired from coaching the boys basketball team after last season, Fairview now faces the challenge of replacing yet another veteran coach.

Brad Cochi: or