Craig Opalich does not regret one second that his playing career did not extend past playing two years on the varsity squad as a junior and senior at Mayfield High School. The 54-year-old Opalich is happy he answered a higher calling a couple decades ago. “I know I’m much better coaching players to play the game,” Opalich said. “And I consider myself very lucky to have been coaching Brownlee’s Lookouts for nearly 20 years at about age level. “I really enjoy training the kids all winter. I love the game and I love working with the kids. I was very fortunate to have a lot of great kids and we have done really well in summer tournaments.”
Opalich, who is vice-president of technology for a company that reduces energy use in commercial and university buildings, got into coaching youth ball with his son Chad, who eventually played for Chuck Schilling at Hudson High School and then played Division I college baseball at the University of Dayton. Opalich guided teams Chad played on to two national titles – the 2002 CABA national championship as a 12-year-old team and the 2005 USSSA national championship as a 15-year-old team.
Opalich, however, points to a fourth-place finish in the NABF national event in Jackson, Miss., in the 18-year-old division as perhaps the high point of his coaching career. “We had nine kids on that team that went on to play Division I college baseball and several, like Brad Goldberg who is still in the Chicago White Sox system, who went on to play professional baseball,” Opalich said. “Virtually all of the kids who have played, have gone on to play some level of college baseball. Helping the kids get into school is really what I like most about the position I’m in. And I’m really proud of the fact that there are currently three kids from the Lookouts who are students at the medical school at the Ohio State University.”