The Gulliver Prep softball team drenched coach and athletic director Mark Schusterman in ice water after defeating Key West 3-0 on Wednesday afternoon in front of their home crowd to give Schusterman his 600th career win.
“To be at one place as long as I have and grow with this school has been an amazing thing,” said Schusterman, who is in his 28th season coaching the Raiders’ softball program.
A 33-year coaching veteran in five sports, Schusterman never expected to reached 600 wins in any sport let alone the sport he never intended to coach.
“When I decided that softball would be my primary sport, people were shocked,” said Schusterman, who began his coaching career in basketball. “But the competitive drive that I saw in my female athletes made them so fun to coach that I wanted to be out there every day.”
A lot of those athletes, many of whom went on to play Division I softball, were in attendance Wednesday to cheer their alma mater and high school coach to victory.
“I never dreamed I would ever stay in one place long enough to hit 600,” said Schusterman, who led Gulliver softball to its first state title in 1998. “It’s just not something you think about. But when you’re doing what you love and you have the right support, things fall into place.”
The three-time defending state champion softball team has won a total of five state titles, in 1998, 2001, 2010, 2011 and 2012, making softball the second-winningest sport in school history behind the tennis team with 11 titles.
Schusterman was repeatedly awarded for his successes with National Coach of the Year honors from the National High School Coaches Association in 2012 and ESPN Rise magazine in 2011. In 2001, he was The Miami Herald’s Dade County Male Coach of the Year.
But despite the excitement of reaching 600 wins, Schusterman said it’s not just about the victories, it’s about all the wonderful athletes, families and staff he has got to work with along the way.
Gulliver (14-4) will face American Heritage on Tuesday at FIU Softball Stadium.
The Belen boys’ tennis team, an experienced bunch made up of three juniors and a senior that have been together since their middle school years, swept through the seven brackets of the District 16-3A final at Maxwell Park.
It’s the fourth season in a row the Wolverines are district champions, and after senior Juan Lorido won his No. 1 singles final 6-0, 6-0 over Pembroke Pines Charter’s Sebastian Jimenez, it marked his fourth consecutive district title at the No.1 position, which he has filled since he was in eighth grade.
Belen won the final in every bracket in straight sets and won each set within its matches no worse than 6-3.
Lorido automatically qualifies for the state tournament individually with the No. 1 singles victory.
Last year, the Wolverines were eliminated when they lost a tight 4-3 first-round regional match with Boca Raton Olympic Heights.
Boys’ results — Belen 27, Pines Charter 20, Miami Springs 14, Hialeah-Miami Lakes 11, Ft. Lauderdale 6, Northwestern 5, Carol City 4, Goleman 1, Mater Academy 1, Miami Central 0 — No. 1 singles: Juan Lorido (BEL) d. Sebastian Jimenez (PPC) 6-0, 6-0; No. 2 singles: William Lorenzo (BEL) d. Kijon Anderson-Brown (PPC) 6-0, 6-2; No. 3 singles: Bryan Rodriguez (BEL) d. Brandon Rodriguez (PPC) 6-1, 6-2; No. 4 singles: Alejandro Hasagawa (BEL) d. Alex Martinek (PPC) 6-3, 6-0; No. 5 singles: Christian Perez (BEL) d. Jason Hseih (PPC) 6-2, 6-1; No. 1 doubles: Lorido/Lorenzo (BEL) d. Felipe Morgado/Joseph Green (HML) 6-3, 6-2; No. 2 doubles: Rodriguez/Hasagawa (BEL) d. Anderson-Brown/Rodriguez (PPC) 6-3, 6-0.