Paige Dumont listened, nodded politely, didn't contest the advice. It was given kindly, so he responded the same. Even if Dumont knew he wasn't going to take the advice people were giving him about the baseball job at Santa Rosa High School.
"I was told I would be going to the worst athletic program in the county," Dumont said. "I would never get the kids to show up. They didn't care about sports. It's a non-sports school."
Dumont walked away, smiling. He's had a lot of experience in being told what not to do.
"I wouldn't make it at the JC (SRJC) coming from a small place like Lakeport," Dumont said. "I couldn't play two sports (baseball, basketball) at SRJC and SSU. It just doesn't happen in college. I was told I wouldn't become a professional baseball player. But I did all those things."
Dumont would like to thank all the "theys" out there for providing the motivation for him as an athlete. Now Dumont, 28, would like to thank "them" for giving him another boost. After three years in the Philadelphia Phillie organization, after soaking in the teachings of Damon Neidlinger at SRJC and John Goelz at SSU, Dumont takes all that experience and merges it with the glue that binds all of it. Telling the kids what they can do, not what they can't. Coaching without destroying. How to play it right. Just as he did Tuesday.
"I like that! (a player fielded a tough grounder) ... hit the ball like you are angry! (to a batter with a slow swing) ... Now where does that throw go? That's right (to a player who threw to the wrong base) ... Move your feet, you'll get more on the ball (to a fielder throwing flat-footed)."
It is one of Dumont's better characteristics — Goelz wanted to adopt him for this — that he is relentlessly optimistic. He doesn't toss verbal darts that sting, knowing adolescents are tender that way. Yet he is a disciplinarian. Caps are not worn backwards. Shirts tucked in. Players practice even during spring break.
"Five guys are on vacation right now," Dumont said. "When they come back they'll find out they'll be benched for the next game. Maria Carrillo's guys aren't taking this week off. Neither are the Montgomery guys. It's committing to something."
Like fundraisers such as the Panther Alumni Game on April 2, the proceeds applied to the $25,000 construction costs to upgrade the baseball field. In the meantime, Dumont is building up his players.
"My goal," Dumont said, "is that at the end of the year, when contending playoff teams look at us, they'll say, &‘Crap, we gotta play Santa Rosa tomorrow.' I want them to know they'll have to play their Agame against us."
"They" would say that's ridiculous. But "they" — you can bet on this — never played for Goelz or Neidlinger, never played pro ball, never knew a coach like Paige Dumont, who wouldn't be where he is today if "they" were right. He'd probably be, instead, just one of "them".
For more on North Bay sports, go to Bob Padecky's blog at padecky.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist at 521-5223 or firstname.lastname@example.org.