Great high school coaches don’t do their jobs for the notoriety, they do it for their love of the game and their players. Rarely do we see coaches receive the attention and appreciation that they deserve.
That wasn’t the case Sunday morning in Eagle (Idaho).
Doug Corta, a long-time high school and club softball coach in Eagle, woke up to quite the surprise on his way to church: More than 90 softballs on his lawn, arranged in a heart with his initials in the middle. On top of that, each ball had a message written by a former player. One player wrote on her home-run ball, the only one she ever hit.
Corta, now in a wheelchair, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in March of 2014 at the age of 47 and has finished his treatment and entered hospice care.
“We asked them to put their number, the year they played and a thought or prayer or memory for Doug,” Tom Atkins told the Idaho Statesman.
Atkins, who coached with Corta, was expecting around 50 players to respond, and was shocked when he pulled up to the house to arrange the balls when he was met with twice his expectation.
Corta began coaching in Eagle in 2009, taking the Mustangs to the state tournament six times, finishing last season 30-1 and winning the 5a state title.
“When I walked out and saw what it was, I began to sob,” said Jacki Corta, who found arrangement on Sunday morning. “To know that he has touched that many lives has overwhelmed me. One of my favorites says, ‘Thank you for believing in me when no one else would.’”
His oldest daughter Mackenzi, a former player and assistant coach all read Corta the messages at breakfast.
Plans for The Doug Corta Softball Complex, an indoor softball facility at Eagle High, have been announced. A YouCaring page was set up to help the effort, with a goal of $150,000.
“You realize you’re more than a coach,” Jacki Corta said. “And that’s what coaching should be.”