Verrill, Mike (2019)
Mike’s love for baseball began in 1960 in Norfolk, Virginia, a 9-year old playing alongside his brother Bob in the Norfolk Little League at the Norfolk Naval base. The family had just moved there from Manchester, Maine, as his dad was stationed there. When they returned to Maine three eventful years later, and after a good tryout at Augusta South Little League, he was selected to play for Nichols Pontiac. Coach George “Jonesy” Jones was stationed at the Naval base in Augusta. “He was the best coach I ever had; he taught me how to play, play it right, and how to really work hard. Little did I know back then, that I would look back at his mentoring as my role model on how to be a coach.” That team went 17-1 and won the league championship. Mike finished the season with a pitching record of 6-0 and threw a no-hitter in his final Little League game.
The next 3 years as a player were spent on the Babe Ruth diamond at Augusta’s Capitol Park on Millionaire Field. “Those were three of the best years of my life. Having my dad and brother on the team with me was awesome! My brother and I always tried to outdo each other and getting to play in the All-Star games with him was the best.”
Mike moved on to play baseball at Hall-Dale High School in 1966, but unfortunately, after one season an illness forced him to the sidelines and he was unable to continue to play. His love of the game, though, never died. Everything happens for a reason, and in the summer of 1969, after graduation, his coaching career began at the age of 18. His uncle, Robert “Lefty” Hill asked him to help coach the Wadleigh’s Little League team back at Augusta South. “Uncle Lefty and I coached three seasons together, and I haven’t missed coaching a season since.” In 1972, Mike moved up the coaching ladder to Babe Ruth Baseball in the Apple Valley League, winning several League Championships, before being hired as the Assistant Baseball coach at Maranacook Community School in Readfield, in 1980. Mike moved up to become head coach in 1984 and held that position for 11 years winning over 100 years along with five tournament appearances.
Babe Ruth baseball continued to be a part of Mike’s coaching during those years at MCS. “Back in 1985, the then State Director of Babe Ruth Baseball, Dick ‘Sarge’’ McGuire called and ordered me to come over to the ‘war room’ at his home to discuss Babe Ruth Baseball. He needed a new President for Apple Valley Babe Ruth League (a position I would hold for 9 years) and also informed me that I would be his righthand man as Assistant Babe Ruth Director. Sarge didn’t ask, he just told you what was. Having known Dick all of my life, and almost getting thrown out of a Babe Ruth All-Star game while pitching in Winthrop by, then umpire, Richard McGuire, I knew not to argue, but simply say, ‘yes, Sir’! For 12 years, I assisted him and when he passed from cancer, I lost one of my best friends and mentors.”
Mike became Head Baseball Coach at Messalonskee High from 1995-1997 coaching there for three years before serving as Harvey Shapiro’s assistant at Bowdoin in 1998. In 1999 Mike went back to Maranacook, this time as Head Softball Coach. “I had never coached softball but had played several years of modified fast pitch softball in Augusta. So, I took a baseball approach to the girls team and, along with Coach Ken Martin, molded our team into a state powerhouse, winning 3 Conference Championships, 2 out of 3 Regional Championships, a State Championship in 1999, and Runners up, against Erskine Academy in 2000. Our girls won over 80 games in 5 seasons, and I had the great pleasure of coaching my daughter, Morgan, during those years.”
Serving the baseball and softball communities has been a priority for Mike. He was involved in forming the Maine Baseball Coaches Association, serving as Secretary/Treasurer for several years; and the Maine High School Softball Coaches Association, spearheading the Senior Softball All-Star game.
In late 2003, Mike and his wife, Lynn, moved to Florida to start a new chapter in their lives. Mike was head baseball coach for 8 years at Out-of-Door Academy in Sarasota, while working there as Athletic Director and Director of Sports Facilities. His teams there won over 120 games, one District Championship, and went to two Regional Finals. He also coached 3 years at Braden River High School in Bradenton before being recruited to help start a new school called Inspiration Academy, also in Bradenton. Mike started the baseball team by developing the Second Chance program at the school. He called area coaches who had a cut policy at their schools. Since, Inspiration was not affiliated with any state high school sports association, he could invite kids who were cut from those school teams to become a part of Second Chance Baseball. Several of those players went on to play on scholarships in college.
Coach Verrill has, during his years coaching in Florida, continued to summer in Maine and stayed involved with Maine baseball as Director of Baseball at Bridgton Sports Camp working with camp owner Brian “Koop” Kooperman, and as assistant to Bridgton Academy Head Baseball Coach Aaron “Izzy” Izaryk through fall ball. “My years at Bridgton have been some of the best times I’ve ever had coaching. Working with these great guys has been a highlight of my coaching career.”
Currently, Mike is the Head Baseball Coach at Saint Stephens Episcopal School in Bradenton, Florida. This past season his team went 18-8 overall and reached the Florida State Regional Semi-Final game vs 3-time defending State Champions Canterbury, Fort Myers.
Overall, through Mike’s high school baseball coaching career, his teams have won 355 games and his softball teams have won 150 games.
“I want to thank my wife, Lynn, for her support over these 51 years of coaching. She always understood my love and passion for the game was there for me every step of the way. She took care of all that needed to happen behind the scenes; travel arrangements, meal reservations, stats, keeping score, writing letters, and most importantly, taking care the needs of our two girls, Michelle and Morgan. Both were very good students and athletes, who needed our support, and they too, supported me. Raising them with Lynn has been my greatest accomplishment. Together, we made it work.”