Post 6 architect Tagg Lain has returned to the dugout in Fort Collins

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May 13—FORT COLLINS, Colo. — A few players flung their gloves into the sky after shortstop Andy Fordyce's throw was secured in first baseman Gino Maccarini's glove for the final out of Fort Collins High's May 6 victory over Rocky Mountain.

Most of the players embraced on the infield grass before lining up to shake hands with the No. 2-ranked Lobos. Getting just its second victory over its crosstown rival since 2009 was plenty of reason for Fort Collins to celebrate.

Keeping their Class 5A playoff hopes alive with a 12-1 run-rule win was ample justification for the Lambkins to leave City Park Field feeling giddy.

First-year coach Tagg Lain wore a satisfied smile amid the celebration.

Lain has had countless significant victories during his coaching career, but this is the biggest of his brief time wearing a purple-and-gold Fort Collins uniform.

"Getting this one was big for our kids, our program and our fans," Lain said. "The only thing I don't love about it is it coming against my buddy (Rocky Mountain coach) Scott Bullock, who I think is a legend and hall-of-famer in this state.

"I don't ever want to do anything that diminishes him, but we needed this win, and I'm glad we got it."

Proven winner

That the latest chapter of Lain's storied coaching career is coming as a high school skipper in Northern Colorado is just as much of a surprise to him as it is to those who know him well. The least-surprising thing is that Lain is breathing life into a program.

The 56-year-old has done just that at every stop along the way.

He coached Cheyenne American Legion Post 6 to a Wyoming state championship and Northwest Regional runner-up finish in 1991. He followed that with a pair of state runner-up finishes before stepping aside to focus on his young family and assistant coaching roles at the high school level.

The Post 6 program was practically on life support when Lain returned to the dugout in 1998.

He had Cheyenne back in the driver's seat at the 2000 state tournament, but Torrington won both games on the final day to capture its third consecutive state championship. Those losses only motivated Lain, the Post 6 board, a supportive group of parents and a hungry bunch of players to move forward with dramatic changes to the program.

Cheyenne claimed 13 of the next 15 state titles and posted two more regional runner-up finishes before Lain turned over the reins after the 2015 season.

Lain also served as Cheyenne Central's boys basketball coach during his final season with Post 6. The Indians had posted just three winning records in the 14 seasons before Lain took the helm. They went 13-14 his first season, but captured state titles in 2016 and 2021. Central posted a 131-75 record during his eight seasons as head coach.

Lain retired from coaching and teaching in Laramie County School District 1 last year because his wife, Mary, accepted an assistant principal position at Mountain View High in Loveland, Colorado.

Lain expected to spend his days with their young son, Tarkin, and thought the closest he might come to coaching would be if Bullock reached out about an assistant coach role.

"We had visited about it. But the more I looked at the game, the more I thought I still had something to offer kids," Lain said. "To finish my career coaching baseball — which is my passion and what I love the most — I had to consider it."

Not teaching allows Lain to spend his days with Tarkin before heading off to practice. He most likely wouldn't have taken the Fort Collins post if he was still teaching.

Fresh challenge

Kurtis Beidleman coached with Lain after playing for him with Post 6. He also played basketball and ran track for teams where Lain was an assistant. The pair developed a friendship, and Lain trusted Beidleman's opinion on prep baseball in the area. Once Lain decided he might want to coach again, he and Beidelman sat down to discus the top five jobs in Northern Colorado.

Neither expected any of those schools to have an opening anytime soon. Then, Marc Wagner stepped down at Fort Collins mere months before the season started.

"Those kids were left in a little bit of a lurch," Lain said. "Somebody was going to have to step in and try to help them.

"There are some good players here who needed some direction, some stability and someone that knew what they were doing. I talked to Kurtis, and he said he would get involved if I got the job."

Beidleman's oldest son, Kolten, is a sophomore on the varsity squad at nearby Severance High. Assuming the role of the Lambkins' pitching coach has helped Beidleman answer questions he had been having about his zeal for the game he excelled at on the college level.

"I wanted to see if I still have the passion for this without my children and without my family being involved," Beidelman said. "When your kid is playing, you're going to be around, so you might as well help out. Sometimes, you wonder if you should be doing it, and this was an opportunity to figure that out.

"... When Tagg made the call and said he's not doing this without me, I didn't really have a choice. I was excited, but he wasn't going to take no for an answer."

Lain has a reputation for being a demanding coach who brings the best out of his players. He also is notoriously fiery as he strongly advocates for his teams. Beidleman won't go as far as to say Lain has mellowed. Instead, he channels that energy in different ways.

"I'm the only one on the staff who has come close to getting thrown out of a game this year," Beidleman said with a laugh. "He's gotten to the point where he understands the game can be taken care of all within your own dugout, and that's what matters to him.

"He lets his assistants worry about the umpiring disagreements, while he tries to get ahead of everything the other team might throw at his team. He wants his players to be prepared."

Lain joked that he needed spinal traction after his first few days of throwing during batting practice, but said pulling on a uniform again invigorated him.

"To pick up a fungo (bat) again felt great, but getting used to doing that physical part of coaching again took some time," he said. "I've been around this game my whole life, so it was easy to fall back into it.

"... What's really cool is coaching in a different place. I don't have to hear about how I'm the guy who won all those games, the guy who coached Brandon Nimmo or the guy who did this or that. I'm just an old coach now. I can just coach the game of baseball without worrying about any of that other stuff."

Putting it together

There were some in the Fort Collins community who questioned Lain's credentials, despite his decorated résumé. They wondered how 990 victories and all those Wyoming American Legion championships might translate to a rugged Front Range League headlined by Rocky Mountain, a perennial big school power that has won six state titles since 2007.

Junior Sean Togher counts himself among the skeptics. It didn't take Lain long to win him over.

"My first time talking to him, I knew he was a baseball guy and had a lot of knowledge," said Togher, who was 3-for-3 and pitched a complete game against Rocky. "He's very straightforward with kids. Whether you like it or not, he's being honest with you, and that helps."

The Lambkins (11-10) won their first two outings of the season before losing seven of their next nine games. That stretch included a pair of one-run losses and two setbacks by two runs. Fort Collins has since won seven of its past 10 contests, including three wins by two runs or fewer and a one-run loss to crosstown foe Poudre.

The Lambkins drilled Mountain Range 20-3 on Tuesday, and host Falcon High at 2 p.m. today.

"This whole team has come together," Togher said. "We've understood the way (Lain) is going to coach us, and it's worked. Every kid on this team loves him.

"Coach Lain has been doing this forever, he knows what he's doing, and he's brought a great coaching staff. We couldn't have gotten a better coach."

There are differences in the level of competition and style of play, but, ultimately, baseball is baseball. A knowledgeable and savvy coach goes a long way, senior Rocco Harmon said.

"He knows where to put us on the field and how to help us get the most out of our offense," Harmon said. "The competition up here is better and the coaching is better, but we've brought in a good guy. He knows what it takes to win.

"We're coming together and playing like a team right now. I wish I was in this program for three more years. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what's coming."

Lain said the Fort Collins job has reminded him of why he got into coaching in the first place.

"I love coaching kids and trying to grow them into great baseball players," he said. "I want to help kids, help the team, help the high school and be a good role model for these guys.

"I believe you need something in retirement you love and you're passionate about and has you fired up to wake up every morning. These kids have been a blessing. Baseball, to me, produces a different kind of athlete, and it's one I understand and respect deeply.

"To be able to coach baseball players is a gift. I'm having a lot of fun."

Jeremiah Johnke is the WyoSports editor. He can be reached at or 307-633-3137. Follow him on Twitter at @jjohnke.