Amaral mixes business and baseball |

Amaral mixes business and baseball

Don Amaral hits infield practice to his Whittell High School baseball team during a 2005 practice at Lampe Park in Gardnerville. Amaral is not preparing for his first season as head coach of the Douglas High baseball program.
Jim Grant |

Don Amaral brings an impressive management resume into his new role as head coach of the Douglas High School baseball program.

Amaral, 65, has previously served as a high school coach at Whittell from 2000-08, guiding the Warriors to a state 2A championship in 2001, and then one season at South Tahoe. More recently, he was an assistant coach in South Carolina with a Coker College team that qualified for the NCAA Division II College World Series in 2013.

Oh, and by the way, this is just his second career after retiring from work in the corporate world calling signals at Fortune 500 companies. During that career, for example, he could be found in Forbes Magazine as chief operating officer and chief executive officer of Summit Health, a Southern California company that at the time operated 12 hospitals, 17 nursing homes and four retirement centers.

Right now, however, Amaral is simply excited about the new baseball position he accepted in November. He replaces Marc Walling, who spent two seasons as head coach at Douglas before moving on the become the school’s athletic director.

Amaral is no stranger to Carson Valley, having combined with Rocky Walling (Marc’s father) to build and open Line Drive U, an indoor baseball facility off Airport Road in Minden.

“I am so excited about this,” Amaral said on Wednesday. “I’ve been a baseball junkie my entire life. I became a high school coach for the first time at 48, just because I love the game.

“I don’t miss the pressures of running a public company anymore. Now I worry about learning how to deal with concussion protocol and Snapchat and Facebook and all those other things. I haven’t even thought about how I’m going to deal with social media yet. I’ve got to think about that.”

The Tigers have already started voluntary work in the weight room and general conditioning, he explained. After Christmas break, hitters and pitchers will begin work at Line Drive U in preparation for the start of the season in March.

Douglas has missed the playoffs by the narrowest of margins each of the last three years. The Tigers were eliminated with a loss at Carson to end the regular season this past May. In 2016, they missed the playoffs by one game after losing eight games by three runs or less. And in 2015, they recovered from an 0-10 start to finish 8-14 in conference, only to miss the postseason on a tie-breaker.

“To me, coaching in high school baseball is far more than just wins and losses and runs scored,” Amaral said. “I know what I want to do with this program. I want to get to where we’re consistently back into going to the playoffs.”

Amaral makes it clear he plays to win, both on the field and off it.

“I play a certain type of baseball and I want to go back to the era when Douglas baseball players were really tough,” he said. “I remember getting beat in one game at South Tahoe. It was like the next-to-last inning; I had a kid throwing real hard and (Douglas) brought in a kid off the bench. A fastball came inside, the kid didn’t move, he took it, went to first base and later scored the run. I commented to John (Glover, Douglas coach) at the time, ‘You guys have a culture here.’ I want to re-establish that culture. We’re going to have some serious goals, and not only wins and losses. My goal is for us to win some baseball games … my objective as coach is to turn these players into sound men.”

His Whittell teams qualified for the regional tournament seven times and five made state appearances. In addition to the 2001 state title, his Warriors finished as a runner-up once.

Amaral emphasizes the importance of keeping it all in perspective, though. Just consider a question he fielded about dealing with the pressure of being a high school coach when interviewing for the Whittell job before the 2000 season.

“I said something to the effect about coming to work one day after taking over a company, we had a payroll to meet, the payroll was $10 million for the two-week period, we had $3 million in the bank and the next day was the pay day,” he said. “This is a game. It’s not life and death. You miss a payroll, there’s consequences — serious consequences — and that has not changed.”