Gage: some achievements are not appearing on the dashboard | local sports
When Lloyd Gage took over East Central University’s baseball program in 2019, he had ambitious goals.
He had hoped to turn around a struggling program for years.
Gage thinks he’s made great strides with the Tigers in every area during his time on campus except for the win-loss column. Just 48 hours after ECU dropped a pair of tight games against former rival Southeastern by a score of 4-3, 5-0 to end the spring season with a 5-43 record, officials have decided that t was time to send Gage packing.
The announcement that East Central was leaving the veteran coach – who has been in the college coaching business for 22 years – and a search for his replacement was underway was made via social media on Monday.
“This one stings. I gave everything I had to this program and this university and these kids and today is a tough day,” Gage told The Ada News. “Not all coaches can leave at sunset and not all plans work as planned.”
The 2022 season included a 26-game losing streak. Last year was no better as the Tigers finished with a 4-36 overall record. While at ECU, his combined record was 26-135.
“I don’t know why the decision was made, but I can assume it was made obviously because the record was not acceptable. And I understand that. I’ve been in this game for a long time,” he said. he said. “And from the outside, a lot of the success is determined by the result on the scoreboard. Unfortunately, we did not do that during my tenure here.
Gage said the Tigers had plenty of wins, but not the ones that show up in the win-loss column.
“I completely understand that I haven’t done the work on the recordings side, but I can also say that I will leave this program better than I found it. As I am teaching these children, you have to leave things better than you found them and I do believe, with undeniable certainty, that I am leaving this place better than I found it,” he said.
“When you have the opportunity to look inside, you see the positives and the growth of the program since I took over – the retention, the graduation, the success in the classroom. The main goal was to clean up the program and I believe I did that,” Gage continued. “And again, often you only see this from the inside. Unfortunately, many coaches are judged from the outside in.
Gage said he and his players have great support from fans and boosters and it’s most visible on matchdays.
“The support system is better. The program boosters are there for these kids and the support for all of our games was undeniable. Whether we were at home or on the road, we traveled in droves and it was great to see that support,” said Gage. “I am eternally grateful and thankful for that. It is something that has grown. »
Gage said not only did he want to help his team become better players, but he also wanted to make sure they left ECU as better citizens.
“These children are better men than when they arrived here. They raised their standards and changed this program for the better,” he said.
“It was never about wins and losses. For me it was always about the kids,” Gage explained. “Those kids mean everything to me. decide our success Is it going to be on the scoreboard or is it going to be in life I always trained the kid to be a better man and be a husband and father The ultimate goal was to get a degree. That was my success.
Gage said another of his goals was to try to get local high school players to join the ECU baseball team.
There are definitely more local faces on the rosters over the past few years.
One of them was his son, Anderson Allen, a graduate of Ada High School. Trae Lowe, a freshman from Byng High School, was also on the 2022 team. While these two were the only players in Ada News’ coverage area, the list also contained more schools just outside of this area such as Ardmore, Tecumseh, New Lima, Shawnee and Madill.
Last season local players Gage Wall of Byng and Justin Pettifer of Sulfur and in 2020 Cody Franks of Coalgate, Aaron Dockrey of Allen and Jarrett Ellis of Ada tried ECU.
“We were able to get our local kids back and I think that was huge. One of my goals when I took on this job was to get back into those local high schools. We have so much talent here and it was slipping away from us and I was able to salvage some of it…and hopefully that continues with whoever takes over,” Gage said.
Gage had a message for his players.
“I appreciate their loyalty. I appreciate their commitment to the process. I appreciate them showing up for me and for each other and for the program and the fellowship every day,” he said. “I appreciate their commitment to improving by one percent every day. And I appreciate that they stick to our commitments. They did that.
Gage thought his Tigers could win more games — at least certainly more than them. Unfortunately for him, that just didn’t happen.
“I told them until the very last day that I believed we were going to win and I believe they thought they were going to win,” he said. “We gave it our all. We have given everything. I appreciate their efforts. I will be forever grateful to them for their commitment to me and my family and allowing us to be a part of their lives.
Once he has time to process it all, Gage said he will look for another opportunity to make the kids successful.
“Like I told my kids, today is a test day. We talk about getting knocked down and getting back up and today is a test day. It’s tough,” he said. says, “Sometimes life just isn’t fair. It’s not always rainbows and lollipops. You just have to keep moving forward.”