SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. — When you think of U-High baseball, you think of Don Ressa.
"Don's kind of the godfather of Titan baseball. He was there back since the 70's. I think there was one coach before him when the school opened in the 60's," said U-High baseball head coach Kevin May. "Titan baseball is Don Ressa, Scott Sutherland (another former U-High head coach), and it's just a special place because of what they started."
Ressa has coached at U-High for 50 years, but number 50 will be his last.
"That was kind of a bucket list thing for me. I wanted to be able to say I coached at U-High for 50 years. I was fortunate enough to be able to do that," said Ressa.
Ressa, who's been an assistant coach for the Titans after a taking a break from coaching, is stepping away from the game to be able to watch his grandson play in high school. One of the all-time greats the GSL has ever seen, Ressa was the head coach at U-High for 30 years, where he racked up 362 career wins and five GSL titles.
His career and contributions earned him a spot in the Washington State Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame.
"I never in my life thought that would happen. I mean, that was just an earth-shattering event for me to be in with all of the great coaches of Washington," said Ressa. "Man, oh man, that was a pretty humbling experience for me."
He's had his number nine retired by the Titans, and it seems a given that a field he helped build will one day be named after him.
"You know, I guess you have to be dead to do that, maybe some day, I don't know. I'm in no hurry for that," said Ressa with a laugh.
The one thing he's yet to accomplish is win a state championship. This year's U-High team has an opportunity to do so, as they clinched a spot in the playoffs with a GSL regular season title. But, for Ressa, it's never been about wins.
"I like teaching the game, that's really fun, but I think more than that for me, it's the relationship you establish with these kids. You know, those relationships, they last forever. I just really enjoyed that," said Ressa.
"He means a lot to me. Just a great person to look up to. So much knowledge about baseball and if you ever have a question, just go up and ask him, he's got an answer for you," said U-High senior Brandon Faire.
He spent half a century following his passion.
"It was basically a labor of love, because I just love the game," said Ressa. "I mean, I just love it!"
Working one job his entire life, but does it even count as work?
"I was really fortunate. My whole career here , it was never really a job. It was this place I got to come every day and have fun with great kids in our community and they actually paid me for it," said Ressa. "I used to tell the kids all the time 'what a great life!? I get to come here be with you and they pay me for it!' It's a great deal."
Ressa and U-High's first playoff game is against Ferris at 1 PM at home on Saturday.