Steve Ricketts considers his Mater Dei baseball coaching career 'worth every minute'

EVANSVILLE — Steve Ricketts considers his baseball career nothing but a blessing.

The man is a West Sider through and through. He played at Mater Dei and the University of Southern Indiana before embarking on a teaching and coaching career in the same system that molded his upbringing. Next year will bring a change though. One he determined was time to make.

This past season was the last for Ricketts as the Wildcats’ head coach, a position he held since 2013. His time on staff stretches back two more decades. The man has been the link to numerous championships including five trips to Victory Field.

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Ricketts and the program will forever be intertwined regardless if he is in the dugout or not.

“Baseball has been a big part of my life,” he said. “It seemed like the right time. It’s certainly been worth every minute of it.”

A former catcher, Ricketts played for Carl Voegel at Mater Dei and later Gary Redman at Southern Indiana. He rejoined the high school program in 1993 after a brief stint with North Posey. The Wildcats made four trips to the state championship with him as an assistant and won the Class 2A title in 1999.

Ricketts was given the keys to the program in 2013. In his second year, Mater Dei lost in the 2A championship to Wapahani (2-0). It may have been the only time the Wildcats advanced beyond the sectional in the last 11 years but doesn’t diminish Ricketts’ impact.

Mater Dei won 10 sectional — six of those came in a dominant sever-year run beginning in 2007 — and seven regional championships since his return. Ricketts was an assistant coach for multiple coaches including Darin Knight.

“The biggest thing with Mater Dei baseball is the discipline that it taught me,” Ricketts said. “It allowed me to further my career at the University of Southern Indiana. I just wanted to give back to the program. Anytime you make a run and get the opportunity to play at Victory Field, that’s what kept me going.”

Mater Dei Head Coach Steve Ricketts talks to his team during the sixth inning against the Castle Knights at Bosse Field in Evansville, Ind., Thursday evening, April 15, 2021.
Mater Dei Head Coach Steve Ricketts talks to his team during the sixth inning against the Castle Knights at Bosse Field in Evansville, Ind., Thursday evening, April 15, 2021.

Ricketts won over 150 games as the head coach for his alma mater. Those postseason runs, especially 2014, will stick out. What he holds in higher importance might be coaching his sons. His oldest, Easton, was a senior on his first team and Cooper graduated in 2016.

“Getting to coach both of my boys was huge,” said Ricketts. “Not every high school coach gets to watch their son play every game. I was extremely fortunate there to watch them grow and contribute to some good Mater Dei teams.”

The Wildcats went 18-11 this spring and were ranked in the top 10 in 2A. The season ended in the sectional championship at Bosse Field with a loss to North Posey. Mater Dei will return a pair of All-SIAC First Team infielders in Charlie Hoffman and Brayden Caldemeyer.

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The question Ricketts gets asked the most: what now? He will continue to teach at Westside Catholic School and be an assistant football coach in the fall. If the opportunity presents itself, Ricketts will help the baseball program in any way. He’ll never say no.

Ricketts will just be cheering on the program in a different capacity after an impressive run.

“I think the program is going in the right direction,” he said. “You don’t want to go, ‘Oh, I can do it one more year.’ I could easily say that this year. I was talking it over with my wife and looking at other things we want to do. It just seemed like the right time.”

This article originally appeared on Evansville Courier & Press: Steve Ricketts retiring from Mater Dei baseball after three decades