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Last Saturday’s 14-4 win over Kempner was more meaningful than most for Foster baseball coach Mick Tosch. It marked his 300th.
Of his 20 years as a head coach in baseball, Tosch has spent 16 at Foster. With the Falcons improving to 9-1 in District 24-5A, 15-8 overall, with the win over the Cougars, Tosch reached another milestone of a distinguished career.
“It’s gratifying. It also means I’ve been coaching a long time,” Tosch said, laughing. “It’s a cool milestone. I’ve been around the game and coaching profession pretty much my whole life, so it’s pretty neat to reach 300. You can’t win without good players, and I’ve been blessed with good players. I’ve also been blessed with a wonderful wife who’s been very understanding of the time needed to run a successful program. My kids are understanding and supportive. I’m just so fortunate for good players and a great support system at home.”
Tosch was coached by his father, Billy, as a standout shortstop at West Columbia High School. Tosch’s wife, Carmel, is a volleyball and track coach at Briscoe Junior High. Their two daughters, Mickayla, a junior, and Jordan, a freshman, are multi-sport athletes at Foster. Son Rob, the youngest of the kids, is an athlete as well.
Tosch, who played collegiately at then-University of Texas Pan American (now Texas-Rio Grande Valley) from 1994-1997, said he is not as fiery in the dugout as he used to be. As baseball and society has evolved, so has he.
The biggest adjustment Tosch said he’s had to make over his coaching career is infusing his team ideas and philosophies with that of the private instructors more and more kids are using nowadays.
Tosch still applies some of the coaching he absorbed from Billy.
“He’s probably the best hitting instructor I’ve ever listened to,” Tosch said. “Not just saying that because he’s my dad, but the way he breaks down a swing … he does a great job of simplifying things. So, I’ve been able to listen to him talk about hitting for a long time and use some of those things to teach the guys that come through Foster High School.”
During his 16 years, Tosch has led the Falcons to six district championships. Foster went to the regional finals in 2013 and the regional quarterfinals in 2018.
If Foster wins its remaining six games, it will be district title No. 7 for Tosch.
“Coach Tosch is a steady force,” junior Coleman Biggs said. “He’s unwavering in his beliefs and is humble in all of his achievements. As a player, he encourages me to get out of my comfort zone and expects me to be my best self, on and off the field. He inspires me to be better by example.”
Tosch has been just as inspired by this year’s team, which has won seven of its last nine games.
Guys like Biggs and junior Hayden Holchak have selflessly switched positions out of team need. Biggs, an outfielder, moved to second base this year. Holchak, a district Newcomer of the Year as an outfielder last season, is playing catcher.
“We’re starting to hit the ball now,” Tosch said. “Our pitching has been fine all year long, but we struggled early in the year being consistent hitting and giving run support to our pitchers. The last two weeks, we’re stringing multiple hits together in innings. They’ve been grinding every day to make themselves better.”
Izzy Denton’s favorite story about her best friend Kailey Wyckoff happened six years ago when the two played against each other in a club volleyball tournament.
“My team ended up winning and she was so mad,” Denton said. “I’m pretty sure we were playing for the winner of the tournament. And I was the one crying, because I was so upset and felt so bad that she lost.”
Wyckoff remembers all too well. Just not as fondly.
“She came up to hug me afterwards, and I am not a hugger. At all,” Wyckoff said. “I was so upset. We’re both super competitive, and the fact it was against each other? Yeah, 100 percent mad. It was the only time we’d made it that far in a tournament, too.”
Izzy Denton, right, hugs Kailey Wyckoff after a club volleyball tournament game six years ago. Denton's team beat Wyckoff's in the championship.Courtesy of Casey Denton
An endearing story, but also one that perfectly captures the relationship of Denton and Wyckoff, two ‘BFFs’ who are seniors and standout athletes at Katy High School.
Denton and Wyckoff have been close since they met through a mutual friend in sixth grade. A long-lasting friendship blossomed during the girls athletic period at Katy Junior High as a sense of humor bonded the two.
“Looking back on it, we still have videos of us just dying laughing, from dumb stuff,” Wyckoff said. “Water bottle flips. Cool tricks where we’d end up on the floor. So funny.”
It’s rare these days for a friendship to grow, flourish, and prosper from middle school through high school. It’s also rare for the two friends to be NCAA Division I prospects; in this case, Denton in volleyball and Wyckoff in softball. Denton was District 19-6A’s Defensive Player of the Year as libero in 2021. Wyckoff was District 19-6A’s Most Valuable Player in 2021.
But what’s rarer is both will be playing their respective sport at the same school, Stephen F. Austin University. In a day and age where many relationships, of any age, are here-today, gone-tomorrow, Denton and Wyckoff have never left each other’s side.
“I don’t see very many people who have had the same friend for so long, and to keep staying friends,” Wyckoff said. “We’re basically attached at the hip. Not many are like that.”
Initially, the girls verbally committed to different schools. Wyckoff was set to go to Fresno State. Denton was set for Southeastern Louisiana. They had come to accept that their journeys would go separate ways.
But Wyckoff decommitted because of a coaching change, and Denton followed shortly thereafter, decommitting because of emerging differences with the “atmosphere and program.”
Wyckoff eventually committed, and signed, to Stephen F. Austin. She loved the atmosphere and head coach Nicole Dickson. She’s never been coached by a woman.
Denton followed, falling for head coach Debbie Humphreys and her staff, the program’s culture, and the demeanor of everyone she met.
Both loved that Nacogdoches felt like Katy. Felt like home.
When Denton called to tell Wyckoff she had decided to commit to SFA, both shed tears. It was central casting, and perhaps something both should have seen coming.
Katie, Kailey’s mom, would often say to the girls, “If y’all don’t end up going to the same college …” She knew, and they knew, they belonged together. One basically can’t operate without the other.
Wyckoff is the “street smart” one with common sense. Denton has more social awareness.
“Kailey is definitely the mom,” said Casey, Izzy’s mom. “Izzy is more the fun uncle.”
Kailey Wyckoff and Izzy Denton take in a Katy High football game.Courtesy of Casey Denton
It’s not uncommon to find the girls wearing different socks of the other’s on different feet at the same time. Denton is often seen wearing Wyckoff’s practice shirts during club season.
“Having an identity crisis?” a coach would tease.
Wyckoff is a germophobe. Denton is not. Wyckoff likes spicy foods. Denton does not.
Denton loves movies. Wyckoff can’t remember the last time she saw one.
“The whole ‘opposites attract’ thing is definitely a factor,” Denton said.
They are both homebodies, even when they hang out together. The craziest thing they might do is go to Sonic in Old Town Katy and trade stories in the parking lot.
“We sit there and waste all of our gas, just chilling,” Denton said.
“They need to fix those potholes,” Wyckoff griped.
Wyckoff wants to study agricultural business and enjoys being in Future Farmers of America, raising chickens. Denton wants to study psychology.
Wyckoff is antisocial and unemotional. Denton associates with others easily and wears her emotions on her sleeve.
“When she first got her (driver’s) license, she was nervous to order from any drive thru,” Denton said. “I had to crawl over her and order for her. She just freaks out around people sometimes. She’s gotten over it, but even sometimes now it happens. I, for sure, have to order for myself when we’re together.”
Each have taken something from their time playing at Katy. Both played and starred for a Tigers volleyball team that went to the regional final the last two years, where the program had not been since the early 1990s.
“The whole next-ball mindset. That’s been engraved into my brain,” Denton said. “Next ball, next ball. Gotta move on to the next play.”
Wyckoff played for the Tigers’ 2019 state softball championship team.
“I’ve definitely learned to let things go a lot easier,” she said. “I hear him (Coach Kalum Haack) when I don’t have good games and have found ways to not think about what happened last. He’s definitely made me think ahead and block certain things out.”
Both are ready for what lies ahead.
Wyckoff has a senior season to finish. Katy is once again a favorite to come out of Region III-6A softball.
Denton is eyeing a June start date at SFA, where she will get a head start on the college life preparing for the start of the college volleyball season in August.
“I know so many girls who say of someone, ‘Oh my gosh, she’s my best friend in the entire world,’” Denton said. “And they met, like, last week. Not us.”
Wyckoff nodded: “We’re inseparable.”
Pictured are Kailey Wyckoff, left, and Izzy Denton.Courtesy of Casey Denton
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