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Colleagues salute ‘teddy bear’ Mays

LATE BLACK–HAWKS COACH WAS COMPETITIVE, BUT DEDICATED TO HELPING HIS PLAYERS

BY STEVE DeSHAZO

Craig Lopez considered Brian Mays a close friend—except for the few hours each spring when their baseball teams met on the field.

“I couldn’t stand him when we played against them,” Lopez said yesterday, “but as soon as the game was over, we were best friends. We were both fierce competitors, but before and after the game, it was all hugs.”

Lopez, Mountain View’s veteran coach, was one of several colleagues who shared fond memories of Mays, who died Monday at age 48 of complications from diabetes.

Mays coached Brooke Point’s baseball team for 11 years before resigning after the 2011 season. He was best known for his passion for baseball and his players.

“He’d do anything for his kids,” said Mountain View activities director Greg Margheim, who held the same position at Brooke Point from 2004–10.

“He was a big old teddy bear. He’d give the shirt off his back for his kids. He took in a lot of kids that a lot of coaches wouldn’t have.”

Margheim was more than Mays’ former boss. He said he and Mays were “best friends for the past 16 years.”

They met through Mays’ wife, Karen, who taught at Potomac High School, Margheim’s alma mater. A fast friendship that included frequent golf trips ensued, and Mays eventually became godfather to Margheim’s daughter, Ryley.

Lopez’s relationship with Mays also spanned several decades. Lopez was a standout pitcher at Stafford High School in the early 1980s, at the same time Mays pitched for Stonewall Jackson.

Their friendly rivalry continued into the coaching ranks, where Mays’ fiery competitive nature was evident—and occasionally rubbed some the wrong way.

“He and I are probably considered dinosaurs,” Lopez said. “In my opinion, he did things the right way. I think he was a little misunderstood, but he put in everything he had for the kids, to help the kids get better.”

Added Colonial Forge coach Sean Szakelyhidi: “What you saw of him [on the field] was not always a testament of the kind of person he was. He was a very compassionate, approachable guy. Sometimes, he’d get caught up in the game.”

That devotion paid off in 2010, when the Black–Hawks earned the Commonwealth District tournament title and a Northwest Region playoff bid.

Many of the top players on that team were juniors, and after they graduated last spring, Mays turned the program over to assistant Matt Mallory. Margheim said Mays wanted to spend more time with his son Jacob, who now plays for Colonial Forge, where Karen Mays is an assistant principal.

Mays had also dedicated himself to improving his health. Diabetes had necessitated the amputation of several toes, but Mays had lost weight in the past few months.

That’s why news of his death hit his friends so hard.

“It was a shock to me,” Brooke Point activities director Roger Pierce said. “I’m at a loss for words.”

Brooke Point will hold a memorial service for Mays tomorrow at 11 a.m., and Margheim said he expects the school’s auditorium to be packed with former players and friends.

Among the attendees will be Lopez, who said he and Mays shared more than a love of baseball. Lopez recently underwent back and knee surgeries, and the complications have prevented him from teaching for the past two months.

“We would always ask about each other’s health,” he said. “We weren’t just competitors on the field. We would look after one another.”

Steve DeShazo: 540/374-5443

sdeshazo@freelancestar.com

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/sports/2011/12/27/colleagues-salute-teddy-bear-mays/

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