Coffey keys Batavia's ride up River standings
The quarterback on the football team. The leading scorer on the basketball team. The top hitter for the baseball team.
Three of the most demanding roles for a high school athlete. At 99 percent of the schools in this era of specialization, that's three different players staring in those three different spots.
At Batavia, it's Micah Coffey.
Coffey capped a banner — and almost unimaginably busy — junior season by leading Batavia's baseball team to a school-record 27 regular season wins and a share of the Upstate Eight Conference River Division title.
The Bulldogs' No. 3 hitter, this sweet-swinging lefty batted .386 with 11 doubles while adding 3 triples and 3 home runs for a .614 slugging percentage. He drove in 25 runs and scored 34 to earn captain honors of the 2013 Daily Herald All-Area Baseball team.
Coffey got his baseball season started days after averaging a team-best 13 points a game swishing 3-pointer after 3-pointer for the Batavia basketball team, which he began a few weeks after throwing for 1,732 yards and 18 touchdowns in leading the Bulldogs football team to a 9-0 regular season and another conference title.
That's quite the exception these days to how things are normally done. Those three exceptional seasons would be completed by three exceptional — and different — athletes, each spending the season excelling at their sport, then spending the other two "offseasons" further honing their skills at that one sport.
So how is it that Coffey went from one sport to the next to the next at such a high level at each?
"It can be tough sometimes but I find a way to make it work," Coffey said. "Sports is what I love to do. My parents have always told us if you love it go ahead and do it. I rarely find times I'm stressed out because of sports. I'm choosing to be there. While school work can stress me out sometimes because I don't choose to get as much homework as I get, sports is something I choose to do the work to get where I'm at."
Let the record show that whatever stress Coffey has with homework certainly isn't reflected in his grades. He carries a 4.25 GPA, scored a 30 on his ACT and recently was named to the National Honor Society.
Coffey is following in his older brother's footsteps of playing multiple sports, Jordan and Jesse, who each did the same with three sports until injuries forced Jesse to focus on basketball and cut short Jordan's basketball season.
"They have been huge role models in my life," Micah said. "God really blessed me with two awesome big brothers who have been through the same varsity experiences and the whole high school experience. The advice they have been able to give to me, Jesse on the basketball court, Jordan on the baseball and football fields, the advice they can offer I wouldn't be able to get anywhere else."
Coffey has one more brother, Canaan, a freshman at Batavia who probably will be joining Micah at the varsity level in perhaps all three sports next year as a sophomore. It will give Micah a chance to be the mentor Jordan and Jesse were to him.
"I'm really looking forward to that," Micah said. "I'm really psyched about it. He's as tall as I am now. We're able to compete with each other on the basketball court, we can hit together, shag balls. He's been my buddy the last couple years with Jordan and Jesse off at school (Taylor University). Being able to play with him will be something really special."
Not surprisingly, Coffey's parents Brian and Lorraine both played sports. His mother tennis and softball, Micah said, not quite as competitive as his father who eventually walked onto the Davidson University basketball team.
Batavia baseball coach Matt Holm has seen all the Coffeys and carries an appreciation for how Micah has made all-conference in all three sports.
"It's tough to do," said Holm, who coaches football as well and encourages multisport guys. "I always say you don't know what your college career will be. What you do know is now. You can do what you want to do. If you want to be a three-sport guy, be a three-sport guy. If you want to be a two-sport guy, be a two-sport guy. If you want to put all your eggs in one basket and play one sport all year round, do it. Do whatever you want to do and do as much as you can. And those kids and that family is really the epitome of that. I really heap some honors on those guys shoulders because that's a lot of work. And to be good at all three? Anybody who can be in three sports and perform at the level they are that's a tremendous thing."
Coffey said as the basketball season winds down he'll try to find gym space on the weekends to start gearing up for baseball — throwing, taking some swings, etc. That amount of preparation might not compare to a baseball player focused on one sport, but it certainly didn't seem to affect Coffey's production this spring.
"Trying to prepare the best I can with also maintaining the focus on the sport I'm on. If you are a kid who does it you are kind of signing up for it. You have to be prepared to take on that kind of challenge. Sunday you think would be my day off but Sunday is the day I can play basketball with my brothers or just hang out with them. Sports is what we love to do together. There's a good chance if I'm not in school I'm playing some sort of sports," said Coffey who also spends one day a week working at Don Beebe's quarterback skills camp but added he keeps balance in his busy routine.
"It's nothing that overwhelms my schedule," Coffey said. "I still find time to relax and play video games or whatever and kind of lay around."
Two obvious questions arise with a three-sport athlete. Which sport is Coffey's favorite, and which is his best?
Coffey answered the first himself, and his coach took the second.
"It kind of depends which sport I'm in," Coffey said. "I get so focused on whatever I'm in that will be the sport I pay attention to professionally, that will be the sport in the college realm. It kind of depends what season we're in. Right now baseball is my favorite sport. But give me two months and football is starting up, hey football is my favorite sport. I love them all."
And picking his best sport?
"I'd hate to do that," said Holm, the football team's defensive coordinator. "Seeing him from the other side of the ball when we are practicing, you know how aggressive we try to be on defense, we would run everything we had at him and he's so smooth at picking everything up and communicating and just being an athlete. When he comes out as a brand new varsity quarterback and beats Glenbard North, that heaps accolade on top of accolades. Between football and baseball I wouldn't put one over the other."
That success in multiple sports is going to lead to some interesting college choices next year as a senior. But before we get into that, a look back at Batavia's breakthrough baseball season is in order.
The transition to the Upstate Eight Conference has gone well for Batavia in many sports, but until this year the Bulldogs had been fighting their share of uphill battles against St. Charles East and St. Charles North, as well as Geneva, on the baseball diamond.
Which made their 27-7 season — 19-6 in conference — all that much sweeter. The Bulldogs gutted out a 9-inning win over Streamwood on the final day of the conference race, tying the game in their final at-bat, to earn their share of the title with St. Charles East.
"It was so fun," Coffey said. "We knew coming into the year we had a chance to be a good team. We're a bunch of guys who love playing together, love the game of baseball. We worked hard in the offseason. We set goals throughout the year. It was a blast trying to chase down whatever final record we were going to get.
"We didn't put any pressure on ourselves. Nobody expected a whole lot of us coming off the last couple years. Coming out this year and having that kind of year was something special."
Coffey was in the middle of it, a consistent force in the lineup game in and game out. He finished the regular season on a 16-game hitting streak with a stretch of hitting safely in 23 of 24 games.
"I felt I hit a stride in the middle of the year when I was seeing the ball, I was hitting the ball," he said. "That comes with the whole team. As guys start heating up it's easier to hit better. It's easier to play loose and not have to do something big every single at-bat. The whole team played a big part of that."
One reason Coffey hit so consistently, Holm said, was the way he handled opponent's breaking balls.
"The best we've seen in awhile with that (hitting a curve ball) is Micah," Holm said. "He's seen a lot of breaking balls, a lot of balls out of the zone and he's one of the most disciplined hitters we've seen. A lot of guys will get themselves out being frustrated. He'll fight things off. He just kept battling pitches off until he got the one he wanted that he could drive."
Coffey also brought one of the best work ethics.
"Micah was one of the team leaders in terms of attitude and approach," Holm said. "If he had a day at the plate when he was struggling, which was rare, you wouldn't know it. His attitude was always positive. Even when he was frustrated the answer was to work harder. A day he was 2-for-4 he would stay and hit more after the game. 'Hey coach I'm taking the bucket of balls and I'll turn it in tomorrow' and he'd go hit. I drove by the field a couple times over the weekend and he's out there hitting and taking ground balls from his dad. Other guys look at that and say, 'I think I'll stay with Micah and hit.' It becomes a little contagious."
Ironically, the Bulldogs broke the 2009 Batavia team's regular season record of 26-6, a squad that Coffey's older brothers Jordan and Jesse played for. The 2009 team went on to win four playoff games and reach the supersectional.
This year's Bulldogs were upset as a No. 2 seed in their regional opener by Hoffman Estates. Unfortunately for the baseball team, it was a similar ending to the football team's undefeated regular season and first-round playoff upset loss to Downers Grove North.
No doubt those will serve as extra motivation for Coffey in 2013-14.
"Obviously it's a disappointment and not what we expected. You can look back to the football season when we were ranked so high and to get upset in the first game. It's a learning experience. We just got beat in those games. It's something where you have to learn with defeat. You have to get motivated with the next chance you get," said Coffey who when asked about goals for his senior season quickly brought up those setbacks.
"It's team success we didn't get this year in the postseason, making a postseason run in all three sports. I'm really focused on making sure my senior season doesn't end up with the disappointing losses my junior year did."
Before Coffey's senior season arrives he'll spend his summer doing what he always does, playing three sports. Basketball summer league, baseball with the Bulldogs Monday-Thursday and then his travel team the Illinois Indians on the weekends, and plenty of football camps, too.
He'll also weigh more college options. He's not just narrowing down schools who are interested in him but deciding what sport he'll play.
"I'm still deciding, trying to figure out where I fit in between football and baseball. At which level I'd fit in and taking time to pray about it and figure out where God wants me to wind up," Coffey said. "It's a good problem to have. I'm trying to play as hard as I can as well as I can and we'll see how it goes."
Seems to be working out pretty well so far.
- Share Facebook Twitter
Article sent to (required)E-mail
Article sent from (required)E-mail Name
Subject Line (article title)
Message (optional)Success - Article sent Click to close
Interested in reusing this article?
Custom reprints are a powerful and strategic way to share your article with customers, employees and prospects.
The YGS Group provides digital and printed reprint services for Daily Herald. Complete the form to the right and a reprint consultant will contact you to discuss how you can reuse this article.Need more information about reprints? Visit our Reprints Section for more details.
Contact information ( * required )Name * Company Telephone * E-mail *
Article InformationTitle URL
Message (optional)Success - Reprint request sent Click to close