CRESTVIEW — In a few weeks, the endless hours Crestview High School assistant football and head baseball Coach Tim Gillis has spent with his eldest son, Matt, will come to an end.
Matt, a senior, played wide receiver on the Bulldog football team and is in his final days as a center fielder and pitcher on the baseball team.
"The journey has gone by fast, and any parent of a graduating senior can say the same thing," Tim said. "It's been better than I ever thought it would be. People that know Matt and maybe see him around know what kind of person he is and I'm a lot more concerned with that than I am what kind of baseball player he's become.
"But he's turned into a good baseball player too. I'm just proud of him and proud for him. He's worked hard, and obviously I hate to see him move on for a bunch of different reasons."
Matt's smile broadens as he talks about his relationship with his dad and what it's been like to play for him.
"There isn't anything like it," Matt said. "I love my dad with all of my heart. I love his work ethic and that's where I get mine from ... in everything I do, I do it 100 percent.
"We are always around each other. During football season we saw each other every day and then obviously during this (baseball) season we are around each other and it has helped us grow as a father and son."
Tim said, "I told some of my friends that have kids that one of the pluses of being a dad and a coach is just time (you get to spend with your son or daughter). I've been able to spend four years (with Matt) when he was practicing and playing and seeing him. Not necessarily talking with him every second, but being out there with him — and that's a special time for being a dad.
"That's been four fun years for me. It's something to cherish."
Although Tim played baseball and football at Crestview and went minor league baseball for several years, Matt said he was never pressured to be an athlete.
"My dad told me from day one whatever I do he's going to support me 100 percent," he said. "It was my decision to play sports and I love everything about it."
'You get what you deserve'
Being the head coach's son didn't automatically mean early playing time for Matt. Only now as a senior has he earned a spot in the starting lineup, which is something Tim told him he would have to do.
"He and I discussed this (playing time) years ago," Tim said. "You get what you deserve in life, and sometimes you have to overcome some stuff that isn't as much fun. He's had to deal with that some and it makes you stronger.
"I've never heard him say a negative word that he wasn't getting to play a lot. It's like I've told the other guys, you've got to be prepared because you never know when your time is going to come — and he's done that. Obviously, from a dad's standpoint he's a great son, but from a coach's standpoint he's a great teammate and a heck of a player."
Growing up Bulldog
It's hard for Matt to remember not being with the Bulldog baseball team. Some of his favorite times are being around the players while was growing up.
"One of my best memories (in elementary school) was when the team would come out here for the National Anthem," he said. "I would have my jersey on and my little pants. I would come out here and be a part of the team standing on the line with them and just start the game with them."
Tim admits that as Matt gets ready to graduate the emotions are running a little higher than normal.
"I've probably had a few of those (lumps in his throat) this year," he said. "I told somebody the other day I remember bringing him home and that seems like yesterday.
"You just learn over your life to enjoy the time you are in. Being around my son, and these young people (the other players), at a crucial time in their life is a blessing to me."
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at email@example.com, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.