Two father-son duos have pushed Davidson Day to a surprising 7-3 start in its first year of varsity baseball.
Head coach Kevin Bringewatt and his son, Jake, as well as assistant coach Andre Briggs and his son, Lamar, led the Patriots to a 3-0 start as they defeated three-time NCISAA 1A state champion Merry Hill Lawrence Academy to earn a top five ranking in the state.
Bringewatt explained that starting the program from the ground up has been an unique opportunity for his coaching staff and players. Although they've had to overcome some challenges, like figuring out where to practice and play their home games without a baseball field on campus, he said the process has gone smoothly.
Bringewatt remembers hearing from many people that it would probably take three to five years to build the program when he first signed up to coach the team.
"But we were a little impatient," he said. "We wanted it to be three to five months."
Briggs also had bigger goals coming in.
"We wanted to put Davidson Day on the map in terms of baseball," he said. "We want to make a little noise, and we hope our kids can make it with their bats."
Defeating the defending state champs 14-12 in their third game of the season was a big step in that direction.
"It was a real big deal," said Bringewatt, explaining that the win changed his season goals. "I thought a stretch-goal was to make the state playoffs the first year and had guys smiling at me bringing that up, but now I feel that we have a decent chance to make that happen."
Briggs said you could see the players start believing after winning their first few games.
"To watch the expression in our kids' faces was like watching a bulb going off saying 'we can do this,'" he said.
Lamar said that those few wins energized him and his teammates.
"I knew then that we could play with anybody - that whoever we matched up against, we could play with," he said.
Bringewatt said a big reason for their surprising start was that players were already familiar with each other, going to a small school, so they had chemistry from the get-go.
"As soon as we hit the field, we started clicking," he said.
Bringewatt added that sticking to their strong suits, which is something they've emphasized all season, has also allowed them to be successful.
"It doesn't matter if we're playing a professional team or a seventh-grade team, we want to play the same way," said Bringewatt.
Both Bringewatt and Briggs have been excited to coach their children on the team.
"It's a bright spot in my life - to know that I'm able to help my son," said Briggs. "Baseball is great, but i think we're able to help them in a lot of aspects as dads while coaching them because there's a lot of emotions we go through out there - like getting frustrated - so we can show our kids how to deal with all that in a positive way."
Bringewatt, who has coached Jake since Little League, said he enjoys having the player-coach relationship with his son.
"I know I'm going to look back and think of things I've done with my son and a lot of those memories will be on the baseball field," said Bringewatt.
He added that he gave credit to Jake and Lamar for making his and Briggs' coaching job easier.
"I've been telling Jake since he was 6 that 'it's easier for your dad to be the coach as long as you're the hardworking guy on the team, not the best player on the team,'" said Bringewatt. "To pat these guys on the back, there's been no challenges in coaching them because they do work hard."
Jake said that he also likes playing for Bringewatt.
"It's been pretty fun, I really enjoy doing stuff with my dad," he said. "We're always out there, taking extra batting practice. I've been playing for him since I was little and we've always done well."
Lamar said that just because his dad is one of his coaches on the team doesn't mean it's easier for him.
"It's no different than any other coach I've had," he said. "He'll get on me if I mess up, but at the same time he's willing to throw extra B.P., extra ground balls, but every other coach would do that too."
Bringewatt said he's equal in complimenting and criticizing all of his players.
"I want to treat every kid on my team like they are my son," said Bringewatt.
Davidson Day is young, being made up mostly of ninth-graders as well as a few sophomores and a junior, but Bringewatt added that his team has made up for their inexperience with their dedication to the sport.
The Patriots' goals for the rest of the year are clear - to win their conference and make the state tournament. They're not holding back.
"Our ultimate goal is to win the state tournament," said Bringewatt. "That's what we're out here to do."
How far they will go will have a lot to do with Lamar and Jake, as well as fellow freshmen Will Grier and Will Reid.
Bringewatt said Lamar is a future college prospect. The shortstop got off the year with a .464 batting average and has been one of the top RBI getters for the Patriots with 13 in the first nine games.
"He's got the full package," said Bringewatt, who said Lamar is an advanced hitter for a freshman and is versatile. "He can play almost any position on the field."
Jake, who was hitting .421 through the first nine games of the season, may be the smallest player on the team, but he makes up with his work ethic.
"He's got a lot of heart," said Briggs.
Regardless of how the rest of the season goes, the Bringewatts and Briggs are looking forward to what the future holds for Davidson Day baseball.
"With the guys being so young, you also get to say that we have three, four years to work with these same guys if we all stick together," said Bringewatt. "That's kind of exciting."