By Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
Donald Trcka was an All-American first baseman at Ranger College. He hit .398 with 42 RBI and eight home runs as a senior at Tarleton State.
But he's still the butt of his sister's softball jokes.
"Growing up - my sister makes fun of me to this day - I said, 'I'll never be a softball coach,'" Trcka said. "Yeah, look what happened, I was a softball coach for two years."
Back-and-forth banter aside, Trcka was still coaching ball, working his way up and biding his time until he finally got his opportunity as a head baseball coach.
Trcka, an assistant softball coach at Killeen for the last two seasons, has been named the Roos' baseball coach, replacing longtime coach Mark Carranza, who stepped down earlier this year after 16 seasons.
"It's going to be tough shoes to fill," Trcka said. "Coach Carranza's done a good job here, he's been here a long time - I hope I can have half the baseball career that he's had at a place.
"It's going to be tough, but I look forward to the challenge. ... It's kind of a new era type deal and let's see if we can make something happen."
Carranza was 147-303-2 in 17 seasons as Killeen's head coach and led the Roos' to back-to-back playoff appearances in 1997 and 1998, but none since. The Roos were close in 2011, finishing tied for fourth at the end of the regular season, but lost to Waco University in a play-in game.
After taking over for Ted Hufhines in 1996, Carranza led the Roos to their first baseball win in the playoffs in 38 years in 1998 - an 11-9 win over Georgetown - but they went on to lose the best-of-3 bi-district series. Carranza and Roos athletic director Sam Jones did not return calls Thursday seeking comment.
"It was out of left field really. It was kind of unexpected, I mean I kind of had an idea, but you never know," Trcka added. "I knew that coach Carranza had talked about getting out, I didn't think it would be this early. I thought he still had another year or two years left and when (Jones) came to me and asked me, it was just a golden opportunity that I wanted to take."
Ever since he was a freshman at Ranger College, Trcka knew he wanted this opportunity. He never had the lofty ambition of becoming a professional baseball player. He wanted to be a baseball coach. After graduating from Tarleton, Trcka spent four years in Temple coaching at the middle school level before being hired by Jones in 2004 to be the freshman baseball coach. He was on Carranza's staff until he moved over to softball for the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
"It's still ball. You still have to catch it, throw it, hit it, pitch it. You still have to do all that, just the speed of the game is faster," Trcka said of softball.
Then, he was called into Jones' office. Now, Trcka's spending his vacation teaching summer school and preparing for the Roos' first season in 5A since 2001 by finalizing his schedule and slapping a new coat of paint inside the baseball locker room.
"We're 5A. We've got to play some 5A schools," Trcka said. "District-wise, I know it's going to be tough. You've got Midway - one game away from the state championships (tournament) - and you've got Belton.
"It's going to be tough, I know that, but I'm going to look at it as take one game at a time, take each game in stride and get some wins and try to make it to the playoffs."