Matt Chimera understandably started to get a little choked up.
Not because he reached a milestone, but because of all of the lives that touched his along the way.
Rachel Ryckman drove in two runs and Lydia Serrano went the distance as Kenmore West beat Kenmore East, 3-1, as part of the Battle of Ken-Ton softball/baseball double header played at Kenmore West on Saturday.
It marked the 400th win for Chimera who began coaching the Lady Blue Devils in 1995.
“I think back to,” Chimera then took a pause to compose himself as the memories rushed through his head and his heart. “Hundreds of players and coaches that were with me. They’re all special.”
Under Chimera’s watch the Blue Devils won twelve Niagara Frontier League titles, four Section VI titles, three NYS Far West Regional titles, made the state final four in 2005, and won the 2002 NYSPHSAA A Class A title.
But Matt Chimera did more than build winners on the softball diamond. For Chimera, who treated, loved, and guided every one of his players as if they were his own daughters, it was also about building character and confidence; instilling a belief in each girl that they can be winners not just in softball, but in the most important game of all: life.
Lady Blue Devils assistant coach Kim Myers-Leggett has seen that caring side of Chimera as well as anybody over the years.
Not only did Myers-Leggett (Class of 1997) pitch for Chimera during her days as a Blue Devil she has also been a long time member of Chimera’s coaching staff.
Leggett said Matt Chimera the coach is pretty awesome, but Matt Chimera the man is even more amazing.
“I just think the passion that he brings to the sport and that he instills in everybody,” Leggett said. “Whether it was to give it all on the field or in the class room. In your future, whatever it may hold, he taught us how to move on and find success and share that (success) with other people.”
Chimera did mull over the idea of retirement especially when his dear friend and long time coaching partner Joe Catalano called it a career at the end of last season.
But for a goal oriented man like Matt Chimera, who has spent over two decades as coach and educator who told kids to dream big, calling it quits with 397 career wins just didn’t sit right.
Make no mistake though; Chimera didn’t return simply for his own glory. This was a young team that benefited from his coaching and years of experience. Even before this memorable day he cares for every single one of these girls. They knew it. And that’s why they wanted to win for him more than for themselves.
“It just meant a lot to all of us,” Rachel Ryckman said. “He holds a really special place in all of our hearts. I think we honestly play for him every single game, but especially this one, being East. It felt really good to do that.”
McKenna Horne scored on a throwing error to give West the 1-0 lead in the second inning. Ryckman drove in Anna Rose Roulley and Rachel Valente in the third.
Jane Reilly (3-for-3) knocked in the lone Bulldogs run in the seventh.
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