ST. ALBANS, W.Va. -- It's not the state championship, conference titles or wins that drive St. Albans' Greg Garber.
Sure, he has plenty of those, including notching his 500th career win last week. What keeps the Red Dragons' 21st-year softball coach coming back to the diamond year after year is the gleam in a players' eye when they accomplish something for the first time.
"When you see their success, whether it's their first hit or a conference championship or a state championship,'' said Garber after returning Thursday evening from a doubleheader sweep at Clay County. "I see the kids getting better and better.
"I got a note just a couple of weeks ago from one of my players, 'Coach, I made a 3.0. I finally got that 3.0.' Just to see the satisfaction in my players' successes, whether it's on the field or off. I love the game and I love the kids.''
Garber has built one of the most successful programs in the Kanawha Valley and along the way reached a personal milestone with 506 victories and counting in 23 years at SA and George Washington (two years).
SA captured the Class AAA 2010 state championship for the school's and Garber's first title, and has won four Mountain State Athletic Conference championships (2006-08 and 2010). This year is shaping up to be no different, as Garber has guided the Red Dragons to a 12-0 record and the sixth spot in this week's Class AAA West Virginia Sports Writers poll.
"That's something I'm real proud of,'' said Garber of experiencing only one losing season in 23 years. "A lot of schools can have a good influx of talent, win for three or four years, but to develop a program that you consistently win, that's more important to me than the one state championship.
"It takes a program to consistently win. The effort that they see I give them, that's one of the reasons I get the effort back. I don't think you can ask the kids to work real hard if you're not working real hard. I don't want anyone to outwork us; to me that would be an injustice to the kids.''
The Red Dragons have also produced 60 players who have been offered the opportunity to play at the college level and three state players of the year.
"We had a reunion a couple of years ago and I had over 100 former players come back to that,'' Garber said. "You see nurses, doctors, lawyers and teachers.