Son and father share baseball-coaching duties

Intently watching a game are Paolo Audino (right) and Jim Audino, the son-father coaches of the Berne-Knox-Westerlo baseball team. Paolo is the head coach, but Jim Audino takes over the team when Paolo attends school in Florida. Paolo is a 2010 graduate of BKW. 

For Paolo Audino, coaching the Berne-Knox-Westerlo modified baseball team can be kind of hard while he’s attending college in Florida. Luckily for him, his father, Jim, is there to pick up the slack while he’s away.

Usually, coaching a team is a two-person job — a head coach and an assistant — but before Paolo returns from Florida every spring, Jim is going it alone. When Paolo comes back in late April, it’s his baseball team, and Jim takes a step back.

“He’s definitely a tough coach,” Jim said of his son; he used to coach Paolo back when he played Little League. “I’ve learned a lot from Paolo. He brings it to another level.”

“No one can love baseball as much as me and my father,” added Paolo.

When the two are coaching the BKW team, they will call each other “coach.” But, at the end of the day, it’s “Dad” and “Son.”

“It’s impossible to do this alone, but both of us have done this alone,” Paolo said. “My father adds a whole new perspective because he’s a parent. He gives me his views, and we work off of each other. We already have chemistry, so it’s easier for us to do this.”

Paolo said that he treats the BKW modified players as if they were varsity players, pushing them hard, and giving them the chance to learn, improve, and love the game of baseball. Jim sees the way the young players are motivated by his son, the way they look up to Paolo, and it gives him great satisfaction.

“Again, he’s at another level, and we’ve had discussions,” Jim said of his son. “But, at the end of the day, I have the trump card because I am the father.”

Personally, Paolo didn’t have much presence at the modified level. This is his chance to give back.

Modified sports are typically played in middle school. BKW, because of budget cut, has done away with its junior-varsity program and has just modified and varsity baseball teams.

“I wanted to teach these kids all of the techniques that I learned in college,” said Paolo, who played a season of baseball at Vermont’s Castleton State College in 2011. “This is an opportunity for BKW to become better at a lower level of baseball. I’m not signing up for a check; I use my experience and technique to give these kids structure and support.”

Paolo said that a lot of people don’t take modified sports seriously, when actually it is a huge development level. Jeff Teats, a longtime varsity baseball coach at BKW until a few years ago, taught Paolo many drills that he uses today.

“Sports programs need solid lower levels,” said Paolo. As of early May, the Audino’s have lost only four games since coaching BKW when the 2012 season began. “If there is no learning going on, then expectations can be pretty low,” Paolo went on. “Everything they [the kids] do reflects on the others. If you’re physically weak, the mind can take over.”

Transferring to Hudson Valley Community College after a year at Castleton, Paolo was supposed to play baseball in 2012, but he said the entire coaching staff was fired, and that the team didn’t play a season. As a 2010 BKW graduate, Paolo was summoned by the school’s athletic director to coach the modified baseball team.

“I wasn’t playing baseball, but I wanted to coach,” Paolo said. “It was perfect timing.”

Paolo has been attending Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla. Since 2012; he’s a homeland security major.

When Paolo is at school far away, he and his father talk before and after every game. Jim will ask Paolo what to do, but, mostly, his father takes the ropes, Paolo said.

“It’s important to have structure, so everything runs the same when I’m away,” said Paolo. “He’ll analyze, look at the score book, take some mental pictures, and relay that back to me.”

Jim tries his best to carry his son’s coaching vision.

“I expect the same things — behavior, listening, being role models, getting good grades, being functional, and working hard — from the kids that he does,” Jim said. “I’m a fundamental guy.”

Paolo is a passionate coach, and Jim may have had times when he thought his son was a little too intense for the modified level.

“It’s not varsity, so I might suggest to Paolo to give certain kids some more playing time,” said Jim. “The kids are there to have fun, but they do recognize the importance of winning, too.”

However, when all is said and done, Paolo is the head coach. It’s his call, and Jim fully respects his son’s authority as a coach.

“He has a different perspective as a parent,” Paolo said of his father. “We have to balance things, but, generally, we come to a consensus.”