Birchler Coach of the Year
News Gazette Photo/
Scott Birchler displays his Coach of the Year Award with his family, from left, daughter Kaitlin, son Brett, wife Tammy and son Blake.
Kowboys leader wins for 1st time
By Rick Pedone
Scott Birchler, the Dean Cherry Memorial Award winner as the Osceola County Coach of the Year for 2014, is what you would call a homegrown talent.
He has more invested in Osceola High’s baseball program than anyone.
He played four years under Coach Rob Beach before graduating in 1989, and he quickly returned to OHS after a college career at Nova Southeastern University to inherit the head coaching position after Beach stepped down in 1993.
Birchler coached the Kowboys until 2000, left to become an assistant at Dr. Phillips for several years, and came back to Osceola County in 2007 to build Liberty’s program.
That background served Birchler well for his second stint at OHS, which started in 2011. The Kowboys coach, with plenty of help from a dedicated group of assistant coaches, has produced an unprecedented string of success over the past three seasons as his Kowboys teams went deep into the regional playoffs. Osceola won district titles in 2012 and 2013, reached the regional finals in 2012 and won two playoff games on the road this season to reach the Class 7A state tournament.
Birchler, 42, said at the School District of Osceola County Athletic Banquet last week that he is gratified and humbled to be recognized.
“Being nominated was a great honor, and hearing all of the accomplishments of the other coaches and then winning was a true blessing,” Birchler said. “Knowing the time, energy and sacrifice of all of those nominated, then to be chosen, gives me great satisfaction.”
Birchler has ingrained in his players a sense of academic accomplishment and community service, Kowboys Athletic Director Jim Bird said.
“Coach Birchler is always the first in line to help with any event we host at Osceola High,” Bird said. “He demands discipline, dedication and good citizenship in the classroom and on the baseball field. He spends a lot of time on the mental training of his athletes, and he shares the things that work for his team with his peers.”
Birchler and his players volunteered to landscape OHS softball coach George Coffey’s home when both he and his wife, Victoria, were seriously ill three years ago. Victoria Coffey, who passed away from cancer last year, told her husband that she was disappointed that she was unable to maintain their lawn. Birchler and his players picked it up from there.
“I can’t tell you how much that meant to Victoria, to both of us,” Coffey said. “That’s just an example of the kind of person Scott is, and what great kids we have at this school.”
Early this season, knowing that this was Harmony Coach Mike Fields’ last season, Birchler asked Fields to throw out the first pitch of their game.
“Scott Birchler is a class individual, through and through,” Fields said. “He’s done a great job with
In 16 seasons, four at Liberty and 12 at OHS, Birchler’s record is 196-167 and he owns three district championships and one regional title.
Birchler said his assistant coaches deserve credit for the program’s success.
“I am blessed to have the support I do. I am only as good as those around me, and I have a tremendous group. Of the 11 coaches I have in the program, two are paid supplements and the rest donate their time and energy,” Birchler said. “I have a firefighter, a construction superintendent, a Publix manager, a Sports Authority employee, a JetBlue employee, a time share manager and four county employees that won this award.”
Birchler and his wife, Tammy, have three children who all are deeply involved in the Kowboys athletic program.
Kaitlin will be a senior volleyball player next season who is considering scholarship offers.
Brett and Blake are batboys for the Kowboys.
“Blake left his baseball game to see his dad win an award and then went back and entered the game for an RBI single. Maybe I should have had him hit in the 13th,” Birchler said, referring to the Kowboys’ 13-inning state semifinal loss, 1-0, to Tarpon Springs East Lake.
“They have been hanging at the field all their lives. They were just as sad, if not, more, when (the state semifinal) ended,” he said. “They have to share their father with 20-plus boys every year.”
Scott’s father, Bob Birchler, is the team’s PA announcer, and his mom, Lin, is a fixture at Kowboys field, helping any way she can.
“It was heartwarming for my family to be there to share this with me,” Birchler said.
Also nominated for Coach of the Year were Gateway’s Vonnie Kochensparger, Poinciana’s Jeff Mathis, Liberty’s Bob Lauster, St. Cloud’s Kevin Harkema, Harmony’s Paul Strauch, Celebration’s Corey Green and New Dimensions’
Strauch and Timmerman were nominated for the second consecutive year.