DALLAS, Texas — Who says you can't mix two passions together? For Dallas Independent School District softball Coach Mark Stout, he's done it weekly this season.
Stout warms up his team at W.T. White High School every home game and then, for a brief moment, plays the national anthem on the trumpet to get to that exciting umpire line: play ball! He started doing it before games last season.
The reason why? Simple.
"Someone had to!" Stout said with a laugh. "In previous years, I've had some of the girls on the team sing it. Many of them were in the choir, and this current team only thinks they can sing -- haha."
Stout didn't pick coaching as his first career path, the 68-year-old started life on a music scholarship to Lamar University.
He played trumpet there, and he shifted gears during college.
"I'm just a nice average player; I play for fun and my church," Stout said. "I kind of quit playing in college because I realized I couldn't be a professional player. I wasn't good enough for that."
Stout eventually started a printing business, mainly pumping out medical forms but sold it around 2013.
That's when he decided to be a teacher and a coach.
It was a pivotal move after starting as a self-proclaimed band nerd.
"Being in marching band was the most fun in my life. In fact, I learned everything in softball from my band director, and he taught me how to focus on details and work on fundamentals. It's really the same thing, band and sports," Stout said.
Right now, Stout's Longhorns are hoping to make school history by being the first softball team to make it out of the first round of the playoffs.
On Thursday, they took one step closer to that goal by beating Sunset High School 12-5.
Games two and three of a three-game series will be played Friday.
Before the first pitch Thursday, Stout did what he's done all season: pull a trumpet out of the dugout, play the anthem, then return to coaching.
"Everybody stands up, and you get chills, even with as many games as I've done, you still get a chill whenever it starts," Stout said.
"Don't tell DISD this, but I'd do this for free."