Justin Pontrella '15

“It’s a great day Ponch!” 

Mr. McQuade would say, every single day of the spring, whether it was 75 and sunny, or 25 and snowing. Every day truly was a great day playing for Coach McQuade. We would have our disagreements on the field, about facial hair, bunt defenses, first and thirds, but I always knew he had my back. I was never the most talented baseball player on the field; however, Mr. McQuade would constantly tell me that I was the best first baseman he has ever had, that I was a great hitter, and that I was a lot faster than I appear to be. Whether or not any of that was true, I believed it. Because I believed those things, I played that way. 
“It’s a great day Ponch!” 

Mr. McQuade would say, every single day of the spring, whether it was 75 and sunny, or 25 and snowing. Every day truly was a great day playing for Coach McQuade. We would have our disagreements on the field about facial hair, bunt defenses, first and thirds, but I always knew he had my back. I was never the most talented baseball player on the field; however, Mr. McQuade would constantly tell me that I was the best first baseman he has ever had, that I was a great hitter, and that I was a lot faster than I appear to be. Whether or not any of that was true, I believed it. Because I believed those things, I played that way. 

I now realize why Mr. McQuade was able to remain head coach for 46 years. I realize why two highly successful alumni still come back every day to coach alongside him. I realize why this baseball program is a family. 

It is not Mr. McQuade’s knowledge of baseball that keeps this train running, it is his knowledge of people. He once said to me “Ponch, Id rather have a team full of happy freshman like you than have a team full of All-American post graduate studs that only care about themselves.” Mr McQuade’s goal is to unlock the full potential of every single player he coaches, and I have never met an adult who excels at this like he does. He treats every single member of the team, JV or Varsity, as if he is as talented as Steve Garrison. 

Now as a college baseball player, I picture Mr. McQuade running out to third base after four pitches had already gone by. When I play first base, I look to my left and imagine him standing next to me telling me how soft my hands are. When I pitch, I look in the dugout and hear him say “Strike One Ponch Strike One!” When I’d get a hit, I’d hear him scream “Sweet One!” After practice, Id remember him yelling “team gear!!” 

And at the end of every day, no matter how badly we lost a game, no matter how much conditioning we did, no matter how tough it was, I’d keep my head up and say “It’s a great day Ponch, It’s a GREAT day.”
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