Kalani Simpson


By Kalani Simpson

Sunday, May 12, 2002

Trapasso still living
through growing pains

NO, no truth to the rumor that Mike Trapasso actually started this Rainbow baseball season with hair.

"If I had any hair left," the new coach jokes, "I'd pull it out. I haven't been through a year like this."

One observer cracked, "If he can get through this season without killing himself, he's going to be fine. But I don't know if he can."

"It's been a very long season," Trapasso says, and you can feel it in his voice.

But the smile is still there, and so is the laughter and the faith, too, to get him through the frustration and the sleepless nights.

And he just might make it yet.

THE COACH SWEATS, throwing batting practice in a rhythm, ball after ball after ball. The mood is relaxed and upbeat, as if the game is saving them, as if the familiar, comfortable feel of baseball on a spring day is enough to lift anyone's spirits, even at the end of a season like this one.

Trapasso scolds and laughs and has a word for everyone. He says things like, "better," and "good," and "are you going to do that in a game?" He's teaching, trying to reach every one of them even now, and even now, they're trying to be taught.

Nobody has given up here.

That's good. Good that these final games still mean something to them all after a season like this. Even if there were times, lots of them, when his guys just couldn't do what Trapasso asked, just didn't grasp what he was thinking, it was all so unfamiliar and different and out of their reach. And not their fault either, he adds. This year was an awkward transition. This year was a last-minute whirlwind filled with new coaches and no recruits and clashing styles and everyone doing his best to make it all work.

And what a long season it turned out to be.

There will be meetings and conversations in the weeks to come, and big decisions will be made, about future, and fit, and there will be phone calls to other schools to find other places to play. This long year is almost over. Some Rainbow careers are, too.

Next year is officially Year One of the Rainbow rebuilding process, Trapasso says -- next year, when his program is in place and he can bring in some of "our guys."

He can see it all coming true.

Trapasso is asked how he'll remember his first team as a head coach. Will he cherish it forever? Will he try to put it out of his mind?

The coach laughs, because somehow he still can. How is he supposed to answer a question like that after a year like this?

Then he says, "These are great kids. They really are. I love 'em to death." He couldn't forget them if he tried.

HE JUST MIGHT try, this year has been so long. But next year isn't here yet, and the huge recruiting class will have to wait. And he throws batting practice, still teaching, still trying.

"These guys won't quit," he says proudly of his first team.

He just might make it. They just might make it, together.

Kalani Simpson can be reached at

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