La Mar hangs up coaches cleats after nine years with the Trojans


Courtesy Hayli Thompson Manson High School Baseball Coaches for the 2022 season were, left to right are Travis Schoenwald, Bill Thompson and Brett La Mar.

MANSON - “If I could order a coach off Amazon, it would be him.”

That high, and technologically relevant, praise shows how much Manson head baseball coach Bill Thompson thinks of Brett La Mar. Yet assistant coaches cannot be bought. With an uncommon combination of generosity, experience and compassion, La Mar is every head coach’s dream. Part mentor, part coach, he has proved indispensable to the Trojans. And while he will not be replaced, he will be missed as La Mar has recently hung up his coach’s cleats after nine years with the Trojans.

“The guy is just a foundation of our community,” Thompson said. “It’s not like a typical assistant coach. He’s the face of the Manson community.”

While La Mar would likely turn his face to that title, much evidence exists to support Thompson’s claim. La Mar’s local roots also spread to the local business community. His parents, Edd and Sharon founded Lake Chelan Building Supply in 1979. Now their son has taken over the family business and he found himself managing employees at the lumber yard and coaching teenagers on a diamond.

“I actually started taking that into my job here, because really effectively a manager is a coach,” La Mar said. “You’re in a business. You’re coaching your people.” 

On La Mar’s office desk sits two pictures of the Manson Little League teams that his father Edd coached in the 1970s. With few sports available in Manson during that time, the young La Mar fell in love with baseball. The elder La Mar decided to become a Little League coach to help foster his son’s passion for the game. 

“I just remember all those times spent down at the field,” La Mar said. “I just had really, really fond memories of that time with my dad and so when my boys got to that age I said, ‘You know what? I need to take the time and invest in my boys the same that my dad did with me.’”

Indeed, La Mar did eventually coach his sons Bryce and Jared in Little League. Eventually, Jared became old enough to play for the high school squad in 2012. The team needed a scorekeeper. La Mar accepted that role and began hitting fly balls to outfielders during practice. He volunteered for Manson High School for two years and eventually the assistant coach retired.  LaMar, who was a utility player for the Trojans from 1981-1985, was asked to interview for the job. Not interested in a paid position, he resisted. Eventually he interviewed and landed the gig, much to Thompson’s delight. La Mar came with a built-in résumé of credibility and in-the-trenches experience. 

“He’s usually the calm and collected one. He’s got a lot of good stories. Back when he played, they had a really good team,” Thompson said, referencing La Mar’s Manson squad that made the State playoffs in 1985. “He’s been on that same field at Singleton Park, facing the same teams that we’ve faced.”

La Mar’s duties for the Trojans were numerous and invaluable during the past. He served as first base coach. He ran the indoor workouts. He coached all the outfielders. He worked with players on baserunning. Thompson said that La Mar had more than enough knowledge to be the skipper. Yet the Manson lifer felt happier simply assisting. 

“In my role here at the lumber yard I’ve been the owner and the boss and it was actually comforting for me to go down there and be the assistant and let Bill be the boss and just kind of support Bill,” LaMar said. “For me the assistant role was purely practice and players, and that was the part that I loved.”

And it showed. La Mar worked with outfielders, many of whom felt like they only played the position because they weren’t good enough to make it in the infield. Yet he always let them know they had an important role on every play and to alway prepare to backup teammates. 

On a few occasions, umpires, in La Mar’s words, invited Thompson to “sit down.” Therefore, the assistant became the acting head coach. Yet La Mar never enjoyed those times, preferring the background to the spotlight. 

While La Mar’s baseball acumen is impressive, Thompson took notice of the man’s generosity. Not seeking fanfare, La Mar has donated much to Manson baseball by way of uniforms, equipment and field upgrades. With La Mar’s helpd, Singleton Park now has an audio system and an announcer. The backstop has been repainted, dugouts installed and the infield upgraded. Sometimes La Mar would even take the team to Chelan’s Lakeview Drive-In and buy them all bacon burger baskets. 

“When I think about him I think about his generosity, the amount that he donated,” Thompson  said. “Our program wouldn't be nearly as far advanced if we didn’t have him on our staff.”

       There’s an old adage in sports that also applies to seemingly every aspect of life: “Father time is undefeated.” La Mar has felt that saying’s reality weighing on him the last few years. His body has begun to wear down. After throwing batting practice  and working with outfielders, he’d have to go home and ice his knees, shoulder and back. He planned to retire after 2020, but that season faded from existence due to the Covid-19 pandemic. His plan B was to step away after 2021, but that season also became shortened. Finally, after a full 2022 which saw the Trojans make the postseason, La Mar listened to his body and stepped out of the dugout. Though he will no longer be a coach on the roster, for many Manson athletes whose lives he touched, that title will remain.

“It’s a little difficult to step off from a coaching role right now, but I’ve got to step into more of a support role for Manson baseball. I know there’s still a role for me down there, it’s just not going to be every day at practice,” he said. “I think I will always be a part of Manson baseball at some level. It’s nice to walk into the store and have boys and girls call you ‘Coach.’ That’s probably the best compliment anybody can pay you is to call you ‘Coach.’”

 

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