- By Tom Johnston, firstname.lastname@example.org
MOLINE — Black Hawk baseball coach Arnie Chavera knew he had reached a coaching milestone last weekend, but admitted the accomplishment of logging his 400th coaching victory didn’t get much thought.
“I guess 500 and 1,000 are numbers that most coaches look at as benchmarks,” said Chavera, with a pause. “But I’m proud of it.”
As much as moving his career coaching record to 401-226-1 in his 13th season at BHC, the former Quad City River Bandits player is more excited about another aspect of his career than a milestone victory.
That he has. Chavera’s coaching accomplishments are impressive. In his previous 12 seasons, the Braves have won nine Arrowhead Conference championships — with him earning Arrowhead Coach of the Year honors with each crown. His 2006, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 teams also were the NJCAA Region IV Sectional Champions.
In 2015, the Braves baseball team earned an NJCAA Academic Team of the Year Award with a 3.26 cumulative team GPA. In 2016, the Braves had a team GPA of 3.13.
While the Texas native thought this coaching position could be a stepping-stone to something bigger, he quickly realized he could keep the Braves program prospering — it has won conference titles 13 of the past 18 years with 25 total.
“There are still things I want to do,” said Chavera. “I want the program to be a national power and get to the (NJCAA) World Series for the first time in the history of the program. Those things are still of high importance.
At the same time, he will continue fostering his players and the BHC program — moving both to bigger and better things. Since he has taken the job, though, he has learned to balance baseball and home life. Now that he has two daughters (ages 10 and 4), he admits his aspirations have changed.
“I was very fortunate that I got to play minor league ball for five years, so I got to chase a personal dream,” said Chavera, admitting early in his coaching career he envisioned being a Division I coach. “It’s very easy for me to put my dreams and goals on the back burner and really focus on my family and my girls. The Quad-Cities is a phenomenal place to raise a family, so I’m very lucky.”
With this year’s team off to a 12-3 start and success stacking up, it won’t be too long before Chavera hits that 500-win plateau.