For many, Valentine’s Day was a day for a lunch date, movie night, romantic dinner, a “Galentine’s” holiday or even a long weekend vacation.
However, for TFA head baseball coach Scott Grove and his son — East Ridge head baseball coach Dakoda Grove — this Valentine’s Day had a whole new meaning.
The father and son faced each other for the first time on the opposite side of the diamond, with Scott Grove leading the Royals and Dakoda Grove leading the Knights during a preseason game Tuesday, Feb. 14.
“I’m excited for Dakoda,” Scott Grove said. “I just remember way back when I first started coaching and trying to build the program and get to a point where it’s an effective program having players (who) want to come in and play for you.”
With a competitive nature that comes on the baseball field, both head coaches were excited and intrigued to see how the game would evolve.
“We want to win that game probably more so than any other game — just because I’m playing against my dad,” Dakoda Grove said. “Our players know TFA is going to have a lot more talent, so we know that if we can compete with them and beat them, we’ll be able to compete with anyone. So I know (my players) are really excited, but me and my dad are both competitive so I know we both are going to go out there and try to win the game.”
This preseason game was Dakoda Grove’s first as a head coach. He graduated Bethune-Cookman University, where he spent his last season on the team as a volunteer assistant coach — coaching outfielders and first base.
“I’m interested to see his demeanor,” Scott Grove said. “He’s probably a lot more calm than I am and laid-back. He probably has a better aura about him. I’m trying to get better at that as long as I’ve been coaching, but I think being too competitive might hurt at times. I think he has a more balanced demeanor.”
Scott Grove has been coaching baseball for 26 years and has been the head baseball coach at The First Academy for the past decade. During Dakoda Grove’s years in high school, he played under his dad as part of the Royals’ varsity baseball team.
“I don’t think I’ll learn too much (about my dad), because I’ve played under him,” Dakoda Grove said. “I think it’s more exciting just to see our players play against TFA and Viera, two teams that will probably be the best teams we’ll play all year just so they can see what good baseball looks like whether we win or lose.”
The Royals defeated the Knights 9-3 during the game.
"I was very proud of him," Scott Grove said. "He will do great things (at East Ridge). He has a good baseball mind."
Both, Scott and Dakoda Grove started playing baseball at a young age.
“I didn’t have a background where my dad played baseball, but I grew up in Denver, Colorado, where I started Little League,” Scott Grove said. “It’s different in Colorado than Florida, just because when it’s football season, you play football, when it’s basketball season, you play basketball. Here, it’s just more professional, more specific where everybody picks a sport at a young age and they play it through their whole life.”
Scott Grove share his love of baseball with his son, who remembers growing up on a baseball field, going to games and recording stats with his grandfather, Ron Cowley.
This game was the first of the two games that are part of the First Pitch Classic.
“It’s strange that it is on Valentine’s Day, but it kind of started when he (Dakoda) got the job,” Scott Grove said. “We wanted (to play him), because it’s the First Pitch Classic — the two preseason games that we play (every year), and that’s the week that we’ve always played it — Tuesday and Thursday before the regular season. (This year) it just happened to fall on Valentine’s Day.”