I first encountered Michael Steuerwald during my first season covering the Bandits in 2014. It was his first season as Head Coach of the Bandits and he guided them to back-to-back National Pro Fastpitch championships. He was beloved by Bandit Nation.
Coach Stu was always great to me as a reporter. He always had time for an interview or just informal chat. I learned so much about the team, league and sport from him.
When I was going to play in an exhibition game against the Bandits, I asked Coach Stu for hitting advice. He looked straight at me and said, "When you see the ball in the pitcher's hand...it's too late." Wise words indeed. If you saw my at bat, you would see how accurate he was. Of course he knew.
Coach Stu eventually moved on to the Scrapyard Dawgs. It was bittersweet seeing him return to Rosemont for games, while wearing the red of the Dawgs. Still it was always good seeing him.
I recently had the pleasure of seeing him again on Bandits Legends Night. He returned to witness the jersey retirement for Amber Patton and Tammy Williams, two of his former players.
Always the class act, Coach Stu talked to me about how much those players meant to him. It wasn't coach-speak. It was true emotion.
That's one of his best qualities. He has passion and commitment to his players on and off the field. That also extends to the whole organization and even an outside reporter like me. He is simply a great man and I am better for knowing him.
Michael Steuerwald and me in Rosemont, IL-August 2019.