Brad Steward has shown plenty of promise in his short time at the wheel of the Silver Creek baseball program.
And good news for the Raptors’ faithful: Leading the program to the championship game in Year 1 of his tenure may have just been the start.
Arriving with a bang, Steward took over at Silver Creek for the 2019 spring season following three years as an assistant under the Raptors’ longtime frontman Mike Apodaca.
A 2001 graduate from Longmont High School, where he played as an outfielder for Tom Fobes, Steward’s playing days extended into college — first at Cochise College (Arizona), then at Hastings College (Nebraska). His coaching career merged from that.
He started at Hastings as a student assistant coach before moving to Las Vegas to coach at Shadow Ridge. He then moved back to Longmont in 2015 and applied for jobs across the state before accepting positions in coaching and physical education at Silver Creek.
In his first year at the helm in 2019, he captained the Raptors to a Northern League championship, going 14-0 in conference. The wins piled from there, and the streak ballooned to 21, before his team fell twice to the only other Class 4A team left standing in the double-elimination tournament, Pueblo West.
The cancellation of the 2020 spring season put a damper on Silver Creek’s redemption bid.
How did your baseball journey lead you back to St. Vrain to coach Silver Creek’s baseball team?
“Actually, nothing to do with baseball, believe it or not. I have a special needs seven-year-old and when we were at Las Vegas with the complexity of his needs, they really didn’t have the medical care that we needed. So, the doctors said, ‘You can look into Children’s Hospital in California or in Denver’, and with my wife and I both from Longmont, we decided to pack up and head home. We had already made the decision (to move) and we were moving at the time when I was applying for jobs all over Colorado. We said if I were to come back to St. Vrain, then obviously Longmont would be a school I’d like to teach and coach at, or Silver Creek, because my brother went to Silver Creek after it opened. I was blessed to get the opportunity to get a P.E. job and a coaching job at Silver Creek.”
Who were some of your main coaching influences in high school, college, etc., and can you talk a bit about how they inspired you to become a coach yourself?
“(Tom) Fobes, obviously — he took over my junior year of high school. The way that he went about the relationships, coaching and the game from a teaching aspect was really inspirational. In college, Coach (Todd) Inglehart down at Cochise and Coach (Jim) Boeve at Hastings — both were very knowledgeable baseball guys. And just their love for the game, just the way they went about their daily lives and stuff like that — just the men they were, it was really inspirational as well. In Las Vegas, our head coach was an outstanding person. He was a Mormon, so he just taught the game from a different perspective. No cussing allowed and stuff like that, and that drew my attention to the fact that you don’t need to be the screamer and the yeller and the guy that’s dropping the ‘f-bombs’. He went about it in a cool, calm, collected way and that was really inspirational as well.”
In a profession that can have a lot of turnover and change, how do you see your future in coaching going? Is coaching at Silver Creek or at the high school level something you see yourself continuing to do long term or is there something else on the horizon?
“The college game was always where I thought I would end up, but with the needs my son has means the stability of medical care and stuff like that. The college profession is cutthroat. You win and you hang around. You have a couple of bad seasons and they move on. So, Silver Creek has really been a place that we’ve been accepted into the community. They have really taken us in, and it is a place that I could really see myself coaching for the next 25 years or so.”
A lot of good baseball players have come and gone through Silver Creek. What do you hope players took away from being a part of your program?
“I want them to be good men. I want them to go into society as good employees, fathers and husbands. I want them to be good people. At some point everyone is going to have their cleats taken away from them and I want them to be productive citizens in society and to be somebody that can be counted on.”
If you can pin it down, what is your favorite moment from coaching at Silver Creek either as an assistant or head coach?
“That’s a tough one. That 2019 team was a really special team. Obviously, we made a pretty good run — which, when you’re winning, things can seem to be really, really good and really fun. But that was a great group of guys that were a family. They spent a lot of time off the field together and they enjoyed the training and all of the aspects of what it took to make that team successful. I don’t know if I can quite pin it to one (moment), but that group as a whole, that 2019 team was just a special, special team. Honestly, probably one of my favorite teams that I have ever been a part of as a player or a coach.”