When you are a standout in your chosen profession or avocation and you are successful, the rewards will follow.
When Bob Seitz coached the Moline High School girls softball program to new heights during his tenure and three of the school's six state titles, he was lauded for his efforts in building the program. And one of those rewards was having the Maroons' softball field named in his honor in 2007.
“When you're naming a facility after someone, you know he has great character and is a great person,” former Moline teacher, coach and administrator Todd Rosenthal said. “There was no doubt about that.”
But having a field named in his honor is hardly Seitz's greatest accomplishment. Those came daily in the halls of Moline High School as well as on the field and may have been where he left his greatest legacy.
"Bob pushed you and got the best out of you," said former Moline standout player Sandy (Littig) Westfall in a recent story about local softball success that included Moline's 1994 state Class AA title in the coach's final season. "Our motto was 'SOS' for 'Seitz on State.' We wanted him to get the championship in his last game. He was just a positive guy who I think of daily. He is one of the best coaches to ever work at Moline."
Those kind words flowed recently after Seitz died last week at the age of 84.
Always low-key and a guy seemingly more comfortable in the background, Seitz left quite a legacy at Moline High School where he taught mathematics.
“I suppose when I think of Bob Seitz, I think of a gentleman. He was always really respectful and a super nice guy,” said former Alleman High School softball coach Steve Ebner whose teams had some epic on-field battles with Seitz's Maroons. “Obviously he was competitive and always wanted to win, but what always stuck in my mind was that he was such a gentleman.
“I would think that he would have been a player's coach; easy for the players to play for, you know, just an all-around nice guy and a great coach.”
One former Maroon standout who knows a little something about Seitz is his granddaughter, Jordan (de los Reyes) Wages, who has been on the Moline coaching staff since her 2017 graduation from Illinois State University.
While she never was on a team that her grandfather coached, she was still the recipient of his sage advice.
“I do remember after games — basketball and softball — that he would pull me to the side and never really get on me, but would say 'Jordan, if this situation ever comes up again, this is what you should do' ... and he would definitely coach me through things," she said.
Wages figured both his influence and bloodlines led her into coaching, but didn't remember too much about his coaching prowess.
“When I started coaching, I asked my mom, years ago now, 'What was grandpa like as a coach and what was his approach to things?'" she said. “She said that the girls really respected him and they knew what he expected of them. He was never really a hot head or never had a temper. He was very well respected by his players.
“I try to emulate that when I'm coaching.”
However, she did admit to being fully aware of the legacy he built within the Moline softball program.
“I kind of always knew that he was a good coach, but it really wasn't until I was older that I realized how much of an impact he had on his players,” Wages said. “I remember when they named the field after him and when I got into high school how cool it was to play on that field."
When it comes to Seitz and his importance to the program, all you have to do is look at the signage at the field that bears his name. It is a program that Seitz built from the ground up.
The Moline softball legacy can be traced back to Seitz in the middle 1980s.
“That's where it all starts, with Bob Seitz,” said current Moline coach Mark Gerlach, who coached the Maroons to two of the school's other state softball titles. “Every coach at Moline can look back to Bob; he started it all.
“You know as well as I do that getting a program up and going is the key. You gotta have people buy into it. You gotta have that legacy. You gotta have people look up to your program and want to be a part of it. Bob started all that. I can't say enough about him.”
Rosenthal said the best description of Seitz was that of a father figure.
“He was a guy the students knew they could trust,” Rosenthal said.
And that trust made him an endearing figure.
“Everybody you talked to just loved the man,” Gerlach said. “That's hard to do when you're a coach and teacher.”