Beausoleil wrote an epic in his time at Mitchell
New London — There was that infernal scoreboard beyond the left field wall at Mitchell College late Monday afternoon, acting as scoreboards do: the ultimate truth-tellers. All those red numbers added up to grim faces and tears, an otherwise terrific baseball season gone kaput in one bad day for the Mariners.
And yet the ultimate truth-teller belied other truths of the day, namely the blessing bestowed upon Travis Beausoleil, who coached his last game at Mitchell, nine league titles and eight NCAA trips later. Beausoleil got to see tangible evidence of his life’s work, a godsend not everybody gets to enjoy.
The huge crowd and rowdy atmosphere around the turfed lawn was a Travis Beausoleil Production. He got to see it and feel it, final score be damned.
It was very much like what Glen Miller wrought in the late 90s when he took Connecticut College basketball to the Sweet 16 for the first time. Luce Field House was everything you see and hear somewhere else on television, all the in-full-throat students jumping around creating a din that sure helped the Camels win.
And then Monday: bleachers full, people standing three and four deep and a noteworthy number of cheapskates standing beyond the fence at adjacent Toby May Field, all to avoid the apparently exorbitant five-dollar entry fee. But, hey, they showed up. Because this wasn’t a game. It was an event.
Travis Beausoleil built it all. From nothing. Largely in anonymity. All those winter days freezing his ascot off practicing with his players in the empty parking lots of Ocean Beach. And then for the first time, the playoffs, to which the Mariners are no stranger, finally came to Montauk Ave. for the first time, ending with Culmination Day, the day Mitchell fell a buck short in their coach’s last game.
“On a Monday, too,” Beausoleil said during an emotional postgame interview. “We said to the guys ‘look around’ a few times. Such tremendous support from the school, family and friends and the community.”
And now Beausoleil’s time at Mitchell has passed. He will begin his new gig soon as the athletic director at UConn Avery Point. Plenty of reasons for the move: a state job, more money and foray into athletic administration.
But the game is going to miss him. He is a gifted baseball coach. It is his vocation. And it was our good fortune that he did it as long as he did in our corner of the world. He should know that few other campus endeavors have been more important to the overall success of the school. It did nothing but get Mitchell College on the front page for all the right reasons every year, giving the school a particular cachet.
There’s an old sports-ism that goes something like “you never want to be the guy who follows the guy.” That means the coach who replaces a successful predecessor has some size 19-EEE shoes to fill. That’s what Beausoleil leaves behind.
Athletic director Matt Finlayson has applicants for this job by the dozen. There are some intriguing names. But before the new chapter of the program commences, there ought to be one hell of a going away party for one of the most important figures on campus.
You can take that inane “it’s only a baseball coach” drivel somewhere else. Ditto for Todd Peretz, whose basketball teams have attracted many members of the community to campus in recent years. Beyond sports, many of us have narrow frames of reference to Mitchell as a whole: 1. It has a nice beach; and 2. drivers try to avoid mowing down students as they cross Montauk Ave. somewhat obliviously.
But then this is why sports are called the “front porch” to many colleges and universities. They make you more curious as to what’s inside.
Here’s wishing Beausoleil luck in his new job. It’s his life and he gets to make his own decisions. We’ll leave it here: He did right by the game he loves and in the program he built.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro