When it comes to sports, Garrett Gates has seen a lot. Having played at C.E. King High School, Gates continued his baseball career at Sam Houston State in nearby Huntsville.
It was during this transition period between college and starting a career that Gates literally fell into his first coaching position.
"I knew I could be good at it (coaching) but had no idea how to get there. I substitute taught for awhile and fell in love with teaching, I knew deep down I always wanted to be a coach."
Gates would coach baseball for 15 years, first at his alma mater C.E. King and then moving onto Baytown Sterling, Crosby, and Kingwood Park. After three years at KP he decided to make the transition to the softball field, accepting the assistant JV at Hargrave High School in 2014.
"Our family had always lived in Huffman so I made a call to coach Mac (Mike McEachern) and he mentioned he had an assistant softball position available. It was totally unique to me, I didn't know god had a plan for me but it worked out really well."
Gates's first year as Hargrave JV softball coach in 2014 would be a special one as the Lady Falcons would go on to win their first state title. Gates would take over as head softball coach in 2017.
As with most coaches building their career resume' Gates had the unique experience of working with both gender of athletes in similar sports, male and female.
"It was a little different for me switching from boys to girls," said Gates.
"Having started with boys and coaching them for a number of years, but answering that question now is I would say that you coach them the same. You coach up kids and you do right by them, teach them right from wrong and how to make them better people."
The town of Huffman brings with it a small town feel (population: 12,397) but annually competes well within the 4A sports classification.
"The Huffman community brings a lot of support to all the sports," said Gates.
"There are not many people driving up and down the roads coming Friday night, they're all at the game."
Hargrave Softball is locked in, ready to pounce on its prey, like a tiger stalking a wildebeest in the Serengeti. A finely tuned corvette racing through La Mans, hitting their turns at precision speed.
Mentally they are hyperfocused on their task, winning their first state title as a collective unit and bringing that accomplishment back to their supportive community.
"Our state of mind is very, very excited," said Hargrave head softball coach Garrett Gates.
"We got up this morning, had a great breakfast and having a great time."
A win Saturday would add to their 2015 title, this team is looking to add their own thumbprint to the programs legacy. Managing emotions and pressure can bring a heavy burden to a coaching staff.
"We've played 45 games and one thing I've tried to instill in the girls is routine. Routine getting into the box, routine getting ready for a pitch, routine as you pitch. We'll be a little nervous before the game but after the first pitch it will be just another game for us."
As with most of the playoffs this season the outcome Saturday will most likely rely on the shoulders and arm of Katy Janes, the Lady Falcons all-world pitcher who also has been stellar at the plate.
Janes has been nothing short of spectacular this season and carried the Lady Falcons to their semifinal 4-0 win over Fredericksburg with 15 strikeouts and a big RBI to seal the win.
"She's big," said Gates, "she's one of the main reasons why we're here, she had a big game in the circle yesterday, had a bit hit for us, we were able to get an early run that helped us a lot."
The Hargrave contingency showed up strong Thursday afternoon as the overwhelming partisan support for the Lady Falcons fueled their emotions to their biggest win to date.
"With the big crowd and as loud as they were it was an intimidation factor for our girls as well," said Gates.
"We'll be better used to it tomorrow. It was a big crowd for us."
With the Saturday championship game scheduled for 12pm you can bet Hargrave Nation will again represent with history on the line. You can also watch the Hargrave Softball championship game by visiting bit.ly/HargraveBroadcast.