The award was created a year ago to memorialize Andy Saldivar, an outstanding athlete and coach. Saldivar coached and mentored student athletes at Caledonia and Thornapple Kellogg high schools for many years before his death in 2016 at the age of 59.
Bailey said Saldivar was a very special friend and mentor to him.
“He (Andy) coached my older girls. I respected him as a coach and a person. He was a great guy and I learned a lot from him,” Bailey said. “I wasn’t expecting anything like this.”
Bailey has been coaching for about 21 years and said he was honored and humbled by the award.
His philosophy of coaching, he said, is to teach young people to enjoy the game, create lasting relationships and have fun.
Brian Appel nominated Bailey for the award saying Bailey is able to take the girls to the next level of competition, shows sportsmanship, leads by example, is fair and kind, and easy for parents to talk to about the team members.
“He is a coach that would have made Andy proud,” Appel wrote in his nomination.
TAPRC received 11 nominations for the award this year.
“I was I was humbled by the number of nominations we received. It is very touching to read all of the wonderful stories about TAPRC Coaches and their impact on our players. I am proud of our coaches. We are blessed to have dedicated mentors for our youth,” said TAPRC chairperson Kristen Cove.
Bailey’s softball team of girls ages 15 and under attended the meeting and received medals for their winning season. The team took first place in the Tri Comm senior girls division this year with an overall record of seven wins and only one loss.
The first recipient of the Saldivar award was Jeff Dock, who now serves at the Thornapple Kellogg High School varsity football coach.