BRISTOL – It took a year longer than he expected, but Steve Gaudet is finally the man behind the bench for Bristol Eastern baseball.
Gaudet’s first season was supposed to be in 2020, after taking over for longtime coach Mike Giovinazzo, but the covid-19 pandemic delayed Gaudet’s new gig until 2021. Now the Lancers’ head coach, Gaudet is thrilled to be leading a program that means so much to him, even if they’ve gotten out to a 1-8 start this season.
“It’s just great to be around these kids, regardless if I’m the head coach or not,” Gaudet said. “It’s a great bunch of kids to coach. We may not be getting the outcomes or the wins we want, but they’re working, they’re doing everything I could ask of them, they’re pushing each other, they’re coming out at practice every day. It’s everything I could hope for, maybe a few more wins.”
Giovinazzo retired after 45 seasons and 602 wins in 2019, leaving some big shoes for Gaudet to fill. A former Lancer himself, Gaudet kept his message simple at the beginning of the season.
“Nothing special, just come out and play Lancer baseball like we always know how to play,” Gaudet said. “We just got to continue doing what we always do and play baseball the right way.”
After a four-year baseball career at Assumpion College in Worcester, MA, Gaudet eventually returned to Bristol Eastern, serving as one of Giovinazzo’s assistant coaches for three years. Prior to that, Gaudet was an assistant with Bristol Central for 13 years on head coach Bunty Ray’s staff.
“I dreamt of it,” Gaudet said on if he imagined being the Lancers head coach one day. “Coach G, he was an idol to me. He taught me everything I could learn about baseball. He taught my brothers everything they could learn about baseball. He’s been a friend, a mentor, I wouldn’t be here without him. It’s amazing to take over after him.”
Giovinazzo was about as good of an example to have as a head coach and Gaudet admitted his former coach showed him the necessary tools to succeed as a head coach.
“When I played college baseball, when I went there, I knew more about baseball than any single one of those kids I was around, playing Division II baseball at a high level,” Gaudet said. “He taught me so much. He taught me how to do things the right way, how to work your tail off to get better, just how to be a Bristol Eastern Lancer and play baseball how it’s supposed to be played. Hopefully I’m instilling that in these kids.”
Gaudet has head coaching experience as he’s been the Bristol Central girls basketball head coach for the past 15 seasons.
While the Lancers are still searching for a consistent winning formula, they’ve progressed despite the scoreboard not ending up in their favor most of the games so far.
Including Friday’s 8-6 loss to Maloney, Bristol Eastern’s last three losses have all been within four runs. The Lancers lost to 8-4 to Lewis Mills on Apr. 26 and 11-10 to Plainville on Apr. 24. Its closest game before that was its 9-6 season-opening loss to Maloney on Apr. 10.
“We’re taking steps in the right direction,” Gaudet said. “It’s just a matter of getting over that hump and we’re going to keep grinding, keep fighting. That’s what I love about this team, they fight until the end. You can see in every at-bat, until the end, until there’s 21 outs, we’re out there competing to the best of our abilities.”
The Lancers will play South Windsor on Monday at 3:45 p.m.
Ryan Ames can be reached at 860-801-5094 or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.