Cates honored as recipient of prestigious FCA coaching award
Posted: Wednesday, December 29, 2010 10:54 am
“My face was flushed,” Cates said. “I didn’t know what to say, it was such a big surprise. The company that surrounds this honor is so elite. It’s overwhelming to say the least.”
Cates, who will receive the award during the FCA Baseball Breakfast held on Jan. 8 at the American Baseball Coaches Convention in Nashville, is coming off arguably his best season as head coach at UT Martin. Last season, he willed the Skyhawks to 24 wins – the most the program had tallied since 1992. UT Martin also produced a program-record six All-Ohio Valley Conference selections under Cates in 2010, a year in which the Skyhawks shattered 11 team records.
The 28-year coaching veteran came highly recommended from FCA Northwest Tennessee Director Barry Duncan.
“What separates Coach Cates apart more than anything else is his exceptional character and incomparable integrity,” Duncan said.
One of the highest honors in the coaching profession, the award is named after Jerry Kindall, the former major league player and retired head coach at the University of Arizona. Kindall was the honorary first recipient of the award in 2006.
To be mentioned in the same breath as Kindall is a humbling thing for Cates.
“When you think of college baseball itself, his name has to be mentioned,” Cates said. “He’s real approachable but when I see him I just stand off to the side in awe.”
A visible member of the FCA for several years, Cates’ involvement in the FCA began in the late 1970s as a collegiate player at Delta State University in Cleveland, Miss. Cates learned from the legendary coach Dave “Boo” Ferriss, who was the FCA campus sponsor at Delta State. To this day, Cates credits his former coach for a lot of his success.
“Coach Ferriss introduced me to the FCA,” Cates said. “I was so fortunate to have played for someone like that. He is such a role model – not just in the FCA but in building relationships. He’s 90 years old and I still get letters in the mail from him asking about my family. I wasn’t much of a player – I was just a guy on the team – but he cares about all of his players. He’s just a special man.”
The FCA began in 1954 and is the largest Christian sports ministry in the world. The organization focuses on serving local communities by equipping, empowering and encouraging people to make a difference for Christ.
The Character in Coaching Award is presented annually to the college or high school baseball coach who best exemplifies the Christian principles of character, integrity, excellence, teamwork and service on and off the baseball field.