Rene Valdez preached a family atmosphere as head coach of the Sauk Valley Community College baseball team.
The need to take care of his own family is why he resigned from that position.
Valdez, who played for the Skyhawks in the early 2000s before returning to coach there 9 years ago, submitted his resignation 4 days ago. A change in his regular job was the reason.
He was an intervention specialist with the Bi-County Special Education co-op, and starting July 1, his hours were going to be cut from 39 hours a week to 28 1/2.
That prompted him to look for another job.
About 10 days ago, he accepted a job as a teacher and coach at Walden Grove High School, near Tucson, Ariz. Valdez, his wife, Jayna, and daughters Presley, 8; Oliviah, 3; and Brinleigh, 11 months, will move to Arizona by the end of July, and the first day of school is Aug. 5.
“This is breaking my heart to leave this program,” Valdez said. “I’ve been a player here, and I’ve been a coach, and Sauk Valley Community College means a lot to me. I’ve put my heart and soul into this, but like I’ve always told my players, your family comes first regardless of the situation. This is just something that I have to do.”
Valdez called each of his returning players and incoming freshmen in the past 10 days to tell them the news personally. He noted some of the players broke down and cried when informed of his leaving.
“That’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” he said.
Valdez says the baseball program is headed in the right direction. He cited the improved indoor training facility, which now includes a locker room with 35 lockers. There was more of a local flavor to the team in recent years, as some of the area’s top talent has chosen to stay close to home to continue their baseball careers.
All 13 sophomores on this year’s 17-21 squad, he noted, are moving on to 4-year colleges and universities.
“We were hitting our pinnacle of what we were striving to become,” he said. “Universities were calling me asking, ‘Well, what kids have you got for us this year?’ We tried to create a respectable environment and bring in kids with character, and as we were playing better baseball, schools couldn’t wait to bring our guys in.
“We were so close to turning the corner and really getting the program to where we wanted it.”
Valdez hoped to be part of the process of bringing in the next head coach, and indicated his top assistant, Noel Aponte, was likely to be a candidate.
Family: Wife, Jayna; daughters Presley, 8; Oliviah, 3; Brinleigh, 11 months
FYI: Varsity baseball coach at Sauk Valley at Sauk Valley C.C. past 7 seasons, and an assistant 2 seasons before that. ... Played first base for Skyhawks in early 2000s. ... Resigned to accept teaching and coaching position at high school in Arizona