SAN DIEGO -- University of Nevada-Las Vegas linebackers coach Tim Hundley has done many a solid coaching job in his 38-year career. A member of the NAIA Hall of Fame for his playing career at Western Oregon State, Hundley has been a member of Division I football coaching staffs at nine different FBS schools. He has nurtured 21 future NFL stars and recruited six future All-Americans. But his best coaching job may have taken place off the gridiron.
The project? His son, Nick, who is in the midst of his fifth season as a Padres catcher, a position he says would never have reached without the dedicated coaching of his father.
Nick was born in 1983 in Corvallis, Ore., during Tim's stint with Oregon State. In the years that followed, he, his brother Jake, and their mother, Pam, bounced from coaching stop to coaching stop as Tim worked his way up the ranks. From Oregon State, the elder Hundley headed to UCLA, then the University of Colorado. Tim then settled in at the University of Washington.
Nick ultimately settled in, too, as a standout on the Lake Washington High School baseball team in Redmond, Wash. Though it was his performance during those high school years that earned him a baseball scholarship to the University of Arizona, Hundley says the hectic years before Lake Washington taught him just as much as time on the high school diamond did.
"Meeting different people, having to interact in different situations, that kind of prepared me for [Major League] life," Hundley said. "Moving around, playing in different cities. It was huge."
But for all the new places, faces and teams, Nick knew he had one constant: his coach. Nick dabbled in high school football, though his career never moved past that point. Even so, Hundley credits his father as a major influence on his baseball development. As busy as Tim was with the high-intensity life of a Division I coach, he always had time to ditch the pigskin for the rawhide and trade one coaching job for another.
"He was working a lot, but when he wasn't working, he was with us," Hundley said. "It didn't matter if he was tired, he was always there for us. That was the biggest thing for me and my brother growing up -- knowing he was always there."
"Being there" often meant throwing hours of batting practice to Nick, even after he established himself as a star at Arizona. As his father moved from Washington to the University of Texas-El Paso, Nick made moves of his own, earning a finalist nod for the 2005 Johnny Bench Award as the nation's best collegiate catcher before heading to the Minors.
But whenever he had a break, Nick would go home to his coach, wherever that home was.
Each coaching location posed its own challenge to the tandem, who christened each new hometown by finding the best local spot to take batting practice. It wasn't always easy.
"When I used to come home for Thanksgiving and stuff, we'd always go hit," Hundley said. "In Seattle, it'd always rain, so we'd drive a half hour down to Newport High School, the only cages that were covered. He'd sneak away from football when he could and we'd go hit for an hour or so. It was great."
And while Tim's coaching resume may have made him more qualified to teach Nick to hit a running back than a curveball, his dedication was an example of one of the many lessons the veteran teacher was able to pass down to his son.
"There are definitely things he's brought from his coaching that he's taught me," Hundley said. "How to persevere when it's not going good, how to fight through the tough times, how to enjoy the good times. We still talk, I talk to him every day."
Tim joined the UNLV coaching staff in March, and with Petco Park just five hours from their new home, he and Pam have been able to make their way to several Padres games this season. But just as Tim logged hours and miles to help Nick realize his dreams, Nick knows that it is just as important to share in them.
"He'll drive 10 hours just to see one game," Hundley said. "I just try to play as long as I can so he can see more games. I know my parents love coming out. It's such a privilege to be able to share this with them."
Chelsea Janes is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.