MAYVILLE - If you should find yourself taking in a baseball game at the Chautauqua Lake Central School diamond on a (hopefully) warm and sunny day in the near future, take a look down the third-base line - you might see a familiar face.
After a 13-year hiatus from coaching high school baseball, Mike Cummings is once again leading the Thunderbirds' program.
And he couldn't be happier.
"It's been a blast; very exciting," Cummings, a physical education teacher at CLCS, said Saturday evening. "There was an opening after the previous coach, Tim Cowan, decided not to return. I went through the process, applied and in mid-January was appointed to the position.
"We've been hard at work ever since."
Cummings, whose son, Matt, is an assistant with the team, takes over a program that hasn't enjoyed much success of late, and has been knocked out of the always competitive Class C playoffs in the first round in each of the past two seasons.
Cummings, however, might just be the man to turn it all around; he's got the resume to prove it.
Prior to stepping away from coaching baseball in 1999, Cummings, who played college ball at Cortland State, had been at the helm of the first Mayville and then, after the merger, Chautauqua Lake program since 1983. He later coached the Lady Thunderbirds' softball team until 2002, the golf team and has been an area umpire since 2004.
During his 20-plus year coaching career, he's won coach of the year honors (in baseball and softball) and division titles.
In fact, when he was coaching, just reaching the playoffs was an accomplishment in itself.
"Back then you had to qualify for the playoffs by going at least .500," he recalled, "and we did. In 18 years coaching baseball, we qualified in 12 of those years. It was nice to have that feeling that you'd accomplished something year-to-year."
And though his squad this season is a little short on senior experience, he sees them making strides each day.
"We have some playing for the very first time at the varsity level and we have some experienced younger players," he explained "Everyone is improving, but it takes time. I'm not calling it a rebuilding year, I don't like that. (Every year) we're reloading."
In the still-young 2013 season, Chautauqua Lake is currently an even 1-1 overall after handing Franklinville a 14-4 drubbing in the season opener and then suffering a lopsided defeat at the hands of Maple Grove a few days later.
"We're coming along," Cummings said. "The kids have been great. They've been working hard and their attitude has been fantastic."
The squad's next scheduled game is Monday, when it set to host Franklinville at 4:30 p.m.
All in all, though, it's turned out to be the perfect situation for the Mayville resident who admitted he'd turned down other baseball coaching opportunities over the years, all in the hopes of one day retaking the reins at Chautauqua Lake.
"I wanted to wait for Chautauqua Lake," he said. "It's where I teach and live. I just had to wait for the right moment."
A little patience, it seems, goes a long way.