COLUMBIA — Hickman baseball coach Dave Wilson can remember sitting at a family dinner this past Christmas in Kansas City. As he sat at the table, he noticed how his kids were interacting with their cousins, aunts and uncles. He knew he had made the right decision.
It was December when Wilson decided he would leave Hickman after the season ended to go to a new high school in north Kansas City, Staley High School. Wilson grew up in the north Kansas City area and attended Winnetonka High School and much of his family are still in the area.
He knew that it was the correct decision, but that did not make the choice any easier. What about the relationships he had established, the players? But Wilson had a more important question in the back of his mind. What about my family?
“In the last couple of years we’ve had our third child start to grow up a little bit and my wife and I started talking about how we miss seeing family and stuff,” Wilson said. “My coaching hours as long as what they are, it was getting more difficult so see family.”
Coaching baseball in the spring and football in the fall caused a time crunch for Wilson, who said he wants to be there for his mom and his grandparents as they get older. Wilson said he knew that coaching was time consuming, but he did not realize how much time was taken until his children began participating in activities.
Wilson said he and his wife were looking for a new house in Columbia last year when an opportunity presented itself to go back to Kansas City.
“We were actually planning on setting our roots here,” Wilson said. “We love Columbia, but this was an opportunity that I could not pass up, and I don’t think I would leave Hickman for anywhere else but to go back home.”
He said it is hard to leave a place where he has raised his kids and been a part of the community for nine years, but that was not the hardest aspect of leaving.
Wilson said he remembers the day he told his players he was leaving. He had planned on telling the team two days earlier, but Hickman had two snow days in late December, which caused Wilson to delay his announcement and to become overly eager to break the news to his team.
“It was one of the most difficult things I have ever done,” Wilson said. “For days my stomach just churned.”
He said he had a knot in his stomach because he knew how important his team was to him and how close they had become. He says his players have grown into role models for his kids and he takes great pride in that.
“Sometimes, in coaching, people get caught up in the wins and losses. But deep down, most of the games you coach in, you can remember some parts of them, but really what you always remember is the relationship with the kids and with the coaches that you have,” Wilson said.
This senior class was the first group of kids that Wilson coached as the head coach. In his first five years with the program, Wilson was an assistant to longtime coach Kent Fewell.
“I don’t call it work,” Wilson said of coaching. “They have made it a lot easier on me being the type of kids that they are.”
He hopes that this year’s class can go out on a high note alongside him.
Every year, Wilson said his team’s goal is to win districts and not worry about what comes after because anything can happen once you get into the state tournament.
In 2005, during his first full season as head coach, the Kewpies not only won districts, they went 28-2 and won the Class 4 state championship.
While admitting it would be nice to bookend his career at Hickman with a championship, Wilson said he knew his team has already won because of how close they have become.
“We can set whatever goals we want, but the No. 1 goal is to play as a team with everyone fighting for the same cause,” Wilson said.
The cause the Kewpies have been fighting for this season is a district title and the Kewpies will open the district tournament as the No. 1 seed at 4:30 Tuesday at Legions Park in Jefferson City. Hickman will play the winner of the Sedailia/Camdenton game.
Wilson said he understands how hard it is to win a championship, so he is going sit back enjoy the journey and enjoy the ride for the rest of the season.
During his second year, this senior class, then sophomores, won the district title. His career mark at Hickman is 71-32.
“It’s nice to get a win, or to get a pat on the back, but the most exciting thing we have as coaches is to watch our kids celebrate after winning a championship,” Wilson said.