2016-06-17 / Sports
Royal baseball coach, son bond over America’s pastime
The senior catcher blasted a grand slam in a 14-1 road victory against Oak Park on May 12— and Dad had a front-row seat.
“That was probably the highlight of my career,” Trent said.
Dan Maye, the longtime Royal skipper and Trent’s father, proudly watched his son, the youngest of three children, from the dugout as he rounded the bases.
The 27th-year head coach, who has two older daughters, kept his emotions in check, just as he’s always done coaching his son for the past four seasons.
Drawing a line between parent and coach was probably the toughest part the past few years, Maye said.
“You want him to do well as a dad, and at the same time, you want him to do well as a coach. You kind of have to hold your emotions a little bit—a lot.”
The grand slam was the cherry on top of Trent’s prep career, but it was only the latest of many proud moments Maye has witnessed as a coach and parent.
Trent, 18, will head out to Wichita State in the fall.
Maye gave his son tips at home and soft-tossed 5-yearold Trent baseballs after Royal varsity home games, but the skipper avoided coaching his son throughout Little League.
“His youth years were his experience to play for other coaches,” Maye said. “Everyone doesn’t do it the same way.”
Before Trent’s freshman year, Maye asked former Royal coaches Steve Snyder, who coached his sons Scott and Barry’s water polo teams, and volleyball coach Bob Ferguson, who guided his son Travis’ squads, for insight on the coach-son relationship.
Maye understood there would be a microscope on how he treated Trent, from playing time to where he hit in the order.
“I think I’ve done a good job with my decisions with him,” Maye said, “but there were times we’d still get emails or letters stating things I felt were untrue or harsh. I always felt if (Trent) didn’t do well, there’d be a ripple effect with the parents.”
Despite occasional accusations of favoritism, Highlander associate head coach Tony Ortega said, Trent was treated just like every other player in the program.
“Both of them have handled it as well as you can,” Ortega said. “I imagine it can’t be easy at times, but it never became an issue.”
Trent deserved his starting role. The catcher produced on offense with a bat in his hands.
During his junior year, Trent notched a sixth-inning RBI single in the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 quarterfinals to force extra innings against eventual section champion Mission Viejo. The younger Maye also knocked in the go-ahead run against John Glenn High in a 2-0 first round win to start the 2015 playoff run.
As a senior this spring, Trent maintained a .310 batting average while knocking in a team-high 22 RBI.
Maye, a Ventura resident who turns 54 on July 2, said he’s enjoyed coaching his son, who frequently roamed the varsity field with his sisters Kirstyn, now 26, and Faith, now 20, when they were children.
Maye’s journey to the Royal varsity field started at his alma mater, Culver City High, where the skipper starred in baseball and football before graduating in 1981. He went on to play catcher at West Los Angeles College for two years before wrapping up his playing career at Cal State Dominguez Hills.
His first coaching gig was as an assistant on Culver City’s football team. He started coaching freshman baseball in 1983.
After three seasons with the pups, Maye assisted the varsity team for three years.
Terry Dobbins, the longtime Royal athletic director who was at Simi Valley at the time, encouraged Maye to apply for the open Royal head coaching job after a playoff baseball game between Simi Valley and Culver City.
Maye arrived on Royal’s campus in 1989. He commuted from Santa Monica for six years before the heavy traffic convinced him to move to Ventura.
All three of Maye’s children attended the preschool on Royal’s campus. Maye would pick up his eldest daughter during lunch break and carry her around in a backpack during Highlander football practices in the 1990s.
When the kids attended Abraham Lincoln Elementary School, they walked to the varsity field after school to watch baseball practice.
Sometimes the little balls of energy needed to be corralled.
“One year we locked them in the dugout so they wouldn’t get out on the field,” Maye said with a nostalgic look in his eyes. “All that interaction was always the highlight of having them around.
“I didn’t have to miss them growing up. Most coaches say they want to spend more time with their kids. They’ve always just kind of been part of my coaching. Being here on a daily basis with them was nice.”
Kirstyn, a 2010 Buena grad, left Royal after her sophomore year. Faith attended Buena all four years. She graduated in 2015.
Trent was Maye’s only child who wanted to make the hour commute every day to Royal’s campus.
The long car rides served as the perfect time for some father-son bonding.
“It was fun for four years, driving in with him, driving home with him and having a carpool person,” Maye said. “I learned a long time ago to keep baseball on the field. In the car, if he wants to talk about it, he’d bring it up.”
Trent, who’s serving as an assistant baseball coach this summer, said the rules were simple.
“On the field he’s Coach,” Trent said. “Off the field he’s Dad.”
The constant hours together helped the two forge a connection stronger than the roots of an oak tree. It’s like they’re in each other’s mind.
“We talk, but we don’t talk as much as people think we talk,” Trent said. “We’re so bonded we don’t really have to talk to know if someone’s having a good day or a bad day.”
Maybe they know each other very well, or maybe Trent’s well on his way to becoming a sports psychologist. Either way, Maye expects his son to continue using the tools he learned during his high school career.
He only really ever wanted his son to learn one rule: “Hard work will pay off. If it’s not today, it’ll be tomorrow.”
For Trent, tomorrow was May 12 at Oak Park High. A grand slam is a fitting end to a prep career. It’s an even more fitting curtain call to the Maye father-son duo at Royal.
“It was definitely enjoyable,” Maye said.
Email Jonathan Andrade at firstname.lastname@example.org.