RedHawks Manager Schlact Draws Excitement from Players as Season Approaches

With Schlact in an interim role last year, the RedHawks closed the year with a 16-8 record

FARGO, N.D. — Michael Schlact is hoping the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks pick up where they left off last season. The team did miss the playoffs, but by only one game.

After Schlact took over for Doug Simunic, the squad went 16-8 to close out the year.

“In the second half, we felt awesome, because we felt free to do whatever we want. But we did what we could control,” catcher Charlie Valerio said.

That’s a complete shift from how things were before Schlact took the reins.

“Before the first half, we were like we have to do too much,” Valerio said. “If we do something wrong, or make a mistake or something like that, our manager would get mad. He would yell at us, and Michael understands baseball. He understands that we make a lot of mistakes, because it’s part of the baseball game.”

Part of that understanding comes from Schlact’s 10 years playing as a professional. The former third-round MLB draft pick says he’s been through it all.

“As a coach, I think he makes it a little bit easier,” outfielder Devan Ahart said. “He knows we’re going to have some lows. We’re going to have some highs. Now, let’s stay at an even keel. That’s the goal for this year.”

But, when it comes to coaching these guys, Schlact says they are more than just ballplayers.

“The approach that I’m bringing to the table is you’re a person first, then you’re a baseball player,” Schlact said. “Hopefully, that earns the respect, and they know that I’m genuinely here for them.”

Schlact believes that developing those relationships will ultimately yield the most success.

“If you’re going to get the best out of people that you’re leading, you have to know who they are,” he said. “You have to know what makes them tick. You have to understand their life, things like that.”

That is all adding to the easy feeling players have coming into the 2018 season.

“Now in spring training, we feel like we’re home,” Valerio said. “We don’t have to be shy or stop doing something because we think our manager will get mad. No. He enjoys being with us. He let’s it be, and everybody feels comfortable here.”

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