The summer exodus of the top baseball and softball coaching talent in the Coachella Valley continues.
Teg Diffey, who coached Shadow Hills High School to four De Anza League titles during the varsity team’s six seasons, announced he stepped down from the Knights in June to devote more time to his family and growing work responsibilities.
Last summer, Diffey started a position with the Desert Sands Unified School District in the child welfare and attendance department and was working with four schools in the district. His new post pulled him away from Shadow Hills more than he would have liked and made it tougher to maintain the type of baseball program he had grown accustomed to leading.
“Running a high school program is a big endeavor, if you do it right, with fundraising and dealing with parents and students and grades,” Diffey said. “I run a tight ship with my kids to make sure they know they’re students first and athletes second. It’s self-imposed, those added responsibilities. For me to do it, I have to do it right, and it would be tough to continue on.”
During his six years at the varsity level with the Knights, Diffey said he was proud to have stuck to a “No F” rule with his players, banning anyone from playing while holding a failing grade in any class at any time. His team finished with a combined grade-point average above 3.0 at the end of each season.
This next season, Diffey would have faced another tough hurdle he wasn’t willing to tackle: coaching against and missing time watching his own baseball-playing son, Torin, who will be a freshman at Palm Desert this fall.
Diffey and his wife, who live in Palm Desert, have raised their kids in the Palm Desert school system, and the former Knights coach said as much as he would have loved to have Torin in the dugout, he wouldn’t force his son to leave his familiarity with friends and teammates at Palm Desert.
Without the chance to coach his own son, while work responsibilities rose, Diffey came to an impasse. It was time to step down and take his turn being a dad in the bleachers, instead.
“When I got the head coaching job at Shadow Hills, he (Torin) was the squirt out there running around as a little bat boy,” Diffey said. “Now, he’s a good-looking young man and a pretty good ballplayer.”
In a short time, Diffey was the cornerstone of a baseball program he built from the ground up that went 105-52 from its inception, while making the playoffs and winning a postseason game each year. He also saw former Knights’ Tyson Miller and Taylor Ward drafted by major league teams.
More than the wins, it was those relationships Diffey enjoyed and will miss the most, and they could be the reason he comes back into coaching some time down the road.
“I can’t say I’ll never coach again by any means. I love it too much,” Diffey said with a chuckle. “The relationships you build with the kids, the positive influence you can be on them … to some kids, you’re a father figure to them, and you cling onto those relationships ’cause they’re valuable.
“When you’re around those young kids and young athletes, it keeps you moving, and you don’t grow any moss. That’s for sure.”