OSWEGO — Legendary Oswego High School varsity softball coach Mike McCrobie had the honor of being inducted into this year’s Oswego High School Athletic Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2019 honorees.
In 2020, McCrobie will add another prestigious honor to his list of accolades, as he will be inducted into the New York State High School Softball Hall of Fame with the Section III class.
“It’s been a pretty good start to my retirement,” he said with a laugh.
The idea of being inducted into back-to-back halls of fame was overwhelming for McCrobie.
“I thought getting inducted into the Oswego Hall of Fame was the pinnacle,” he said. “(The softball hall of fame induction) came along and this is right up there with the induction into my alma mater’s hall of fame.”
The NYS softball honor came as complete shock and surprise to McCrobie, who coached the Buccaneers varsity softball program for 20-plus years (1989-2017).
“I’m very humbled and honored to be considered,” he said. “It came out of nowhere. It’s nothing I aspired to. It’s just an honor.”
The list of accomplishments in McCrobie’s coaching career with the Buccaneers runs deep. Posting a 431-214 career coaching record, McCrobie and the Bucs won three-straight Section III Class AA titles between 1993-1995, with a sectional runner-up finish in the 2002 campaign. He led Oswego to 28-consecutive Section III tournament appearances.
McCrobie was a seven-time Onondaga High School League Coach of the Year. Under McCrobie’s leadership, Oswego captured league titles in 1993, 2001, 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2011. He was named the NYS Coach of the Year in 1993. He was a 10-year member of the state’s all-state selection committee and the site coordinator of the 2002-2003 sectional/regional finals.
McCrobie demanded that his players succeed in the classroom as well, and that was reflected in the fact that the Oswego softball team earned New York State Scholar-Athlete Team honors in 21 consecutive seasons.
Looking back at his fondest memories of coaching, McCrobie mentioned how much he cherished the out-of-state tournament trips he took with his teams over the years. The trips, among other things, helped establish solid player-coach relationships.
“The biggest thing I take away from the whole experience is the relationships and players I’ve coached,” McCrobie said. “It’s great to run into them at places and see what they’ve done with their lives. Playing softball at Oswego maybe had something to do with that.”
When it came to the favorite teams he coached, McCrobie couldn’t pick just one or a handful teams that stood out to him.
“That would be like asking me which one of my children is my favorite,” he said. “The team I was coaching was always my favorite. They all became like family.”
Despite not having a particularly favorite team, McCrobie gave credit to the 1993 sectional championship team for laying down the foundation of the varsity softball program.
“They seemed to buy into everything we were trying to teach, and it built up something great for the teams that followed,” he said.
McCrobie added, “Building a program and having the sustainability of it was something I’m most proud of. The fact that we were able to keep the program at a high level for such a long time is incredible.”
Some of McCrobie’s players went on to play at the college level and followed in his footsteps in the coaching profession. He took a large interest in seeing where his former players were at in life after establishing a connection with each of them.
“In the earlier years of my coaching when my kids were young, my players would be our babysitters,” he said. "Players would come to the house on prom night and show us that they cleaned up pretty well. I’ve been at multiple weddings for former players. It’s just all about the relationships.”
McCrobie is only two years removed from coaching, and the one thing he misses the most is taking the time to break down the game of softball for his players.
“The thing I miss the most is teaching,” he said. “I miss practices more than the games, which sounds a little funny. You teach something in practice and see it in the games later. That’s what coaching is all about.”
Through the years, McCrobie worked with a handful of modified and JV coaches within the softball program. With that being said, he wanted to thank JV coaches Mark Mirabito, Brad Shannon and Ron Ahart — and modified coaches Debbie Lavner, Tom Frawley, Bill Fatiga, Barb (Verdoliva) Carroll, Pete Sears and Holly (Izzo) Allen for all the hard work they put in.
“They built the fundamental foundation and love of the game at those levels,” McCrobie said.