That’s what Pope assistant baseball coach Al Savransky exclaimed Saturday after the Greyhounds swept Greenbrier to claim the Class AAAAA state championship.
That title capped a stellar season for the Savransky, who also won two titles as an assistant with Pope’s wrestling program, and was on hand as an assistant for the Lady Greyhounds’ state runner-up finish in softball.
It’s been a labor of love for Savransky, who has devoted his time and energy to wrestling and baseball for nearly a decade while working with softball for the past four seasons. As soon as softball season ended, he’d be right there in the wrestling room assisting with instruction, only to join the baseball team once wrestling season ended.
Savransky couldn’t have enough, and the hard work finally paid off in what he said was one of the best years of his coaching career.
“I can’t complain,” he said. “To be honest, I’m around great kids and some great athletes. I think (Saturday’s baseball championship) is probably the most enjoyable, and softball was definitely the most painful of all of them, ever. I’d trade any one of them to get softball.
“But, to tell you the truth, this has been an incredible experience. I like to win, and I stress about it. I expect to win in everything I do, and that’s what they expect here.”
On top of coaching, Savransky teaches classes in broadcast production and computing. It makes him a frequent sight inside and outside of the school.
“I’ve been fortunate to be at Pope High School, coaching the sports I have for nine years,” he said. “This place has become home. I am a part of this school. This is Pope.
“If you don’t like it, leave it. That’s my motto.”
It’s likely Savransky will be true to his word because he really doesn’t have any intention on going anywhere else any time soon.
“I’m a really good assistant coach,” he said. “I have no interest in taking any head-coaching job. I love what I do. I love the guys I coach with. It is truly a great thing to be working here.”
Softball coach Chris Turco, who also works with Savransky as assistants to baseball coach Jeff Rowland, has seen first-hand the value of having Savransky as an assistant. The Pope softball team has reached the state playoffs in each of Savransky’s four seasons with the team.
“I call him the heart and soul of our program,” Turco said. “He’s a great motivator and he gets the kids to play their best. The girls love him. He’s irreplaceable.”
The time spent coaching three sports at Pope has left Savransky with little time for family, including two children with their own athletic exploits. His son, Michael, played baseball at Walton, and daughter Ally was a member of the Lady Raiders cheering squad and softball team.
It’s a sacrifice not lost on Turco.
“The one word I’d use to describe him is ‘selfless,’” Turco said. “He’s been willing to sacrifice his family time with his two kids, Michael and Ally, to help everyone else’s kids.”
Rowland echoed Turco’s sentiments.
“There’s no question he’s put in a ton of hours,” Rowland said. “It’s basically having a second job outside of school, to go along with his teaching. I know what he’s been through because I coached football, wrestling and baseball for a while before it got to be too much. Then, I went down to two and finally just one. It takes a ton of time to do it, and he’s been successful in all three.”
In his nine years coaching at Pope, Savransky has won two state titles in baseball and five in wrestling — duals and traditional.
“Winning follows Savransky around,” Turco said. “I don’t know how it happens, but it does.”
Having reached the finals in all of his sports this season, Savransky has finally decided to take a break next year. He won’t coach wrestling, but he’ll still be around for softball and baseball.
“After nine years, I’m taking a break from wrestling because I need it,” Savransky said. “I’m working on my personal life, but I couldn’t be happier.
“I coach more than every day during the school year. I start before the school year, and now it’s after the school year. Every single day, I rarely get home before 8 o’clock. It’s what I expect. It makes my job better. I love doing it. I love the kids. I love sports. This is my life. This is the best move I’ve ever made in my life, to get into teaching and doing this. But I just need a break after this season. I have no regrets.”