BOULDER — If not for one specific influence, Pete Sprenkle might happily ease into full retirement, perhaps idling his days away by cranking out another volume of wisdom and insightful observations culled from nearly four decades of coaching experience.
Yet that one influence exerts a tremendous and relentless pressure on Sprenkle’s heartstrings. Until Sprenkle’s granddaughter, 15-year-old Julia McCue, completes her journey through the Boulder Stars club softball system, Sprenkle plans to keep plying his trade.
Sprenkle, a former Boulder High School softball coach and a veteran instructor on the local club circuit, isn’t ready to hang up his coach’s whistle just yet. Currently the coach of the Stars’ 16U B team, Sprenkle is reveling in the rare opportunity to coach his granddaughter, a first baseman/pitcher with the club who will be a sophomore at Fairview in the fall.
“I can definitely say I would not be doing this if (McCue) wasn’t playing,” said the 75-year old Sprenkle. “I coached my daughter for a number of years and I really thought I was done. When (McCue) gets through high school I’ll be 78. That’s probably old enough to finally retire.”
Sprenkle already was a veteran face on the club circuit — perhaps most notably with the Junior Gold Stars — when he resigned his position in order to give high school coaching a shot.
After just one season at Centaurus, Sprenkle spent four seasons at Boulder, leading the Panthers’ softball team from 1999 through 2002.
However, Sprenkle never quite found the high school experience as rewarding as what he encountered on the club scene. During his long and prolific career Sprenkle enjoyed the opportunity to coach one of his daughters — McCue’s aunt, Linda Timmons — and once McCue started displaying an interest in the sport, the venerable coach began to reconsider his options.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a lot different than coaching my daughter,” said Sprenkle, whose other granddaughter, Katie Timmons, will play volleyball at the Colorado School of Mines in 2013. “They both play because they wanted to play. Both are good players and work hard. There’s not a lot of differences. Many times (McCue) is in the batting cage and it’s kind of like déja vu all over again. I’m excited for this opportunity because not a lot of people get to do this.”
Sprenkle has authored two books (one is titled “A Softball Coaches Tool Kit”) and has coached his granddaughter’s group throughout their time in the Boulder Stars’ system, beginning when McCue was playing at the 10U level. While McCue confesses she hasn’t quite completely read any of grandpa’s books, she recognizes the unique opportunity she has to learn from a beloved family member who also happens to be an expert in her still-blossoming trade.
“I knew that my aunt played and he coached, and I knew he had a book about coaching,” McCue said. “When I started playing softball I got into it more and I thought it was really cool that he coached. I love softball and it’s my passion, so it’s great to know that he is coaching and is involved as well.
“For me, it’s kind of normal because he always has been my coach. I do recognize it is unique and all my friends think its cool.”
Follow Pat Rooney on Twitter: @prooney07