That’s the message in his book, “When Life Throws You Curves, Keep Swinging” and that message is what he shared with the Rotary Club of Crowley Tuesday.
The book, a memoir of his life and 29-year coaching career, looks at how Vince overcame the obstacles of being a double amputee (losing both of his legs before age two) and become a successful coach without ever playing the game.
“The doctors said I’d never walk without crutches, but I put them down at eight years old,” he said as he began telling his story.
Vince’s story, while beginning really at his birth with the leg issue, did not really begin until age eight when his first bit of adversity, or curve ball, came his way in the form of bullying.
Fellow classmates used to push Vince down while trying not to be seen by the teacher. After the physical bullying ended, the psychological bullying began.
Still Vince held strong and as he and his classmates grew older, the bullying subsided.
As Vince decided what he wanted to do with his life (one year of CPA classes and testing told him that certified public accountant was not his dream) another curve ball, or two, came his way.
Vince explained how he decided he wanted to be a baseball coach, despite not taking a physical education course since entering high school and his double amputation. He was assured that physical activity was not necessary and thus transferred to McNeese State University to pursue his dream, minoring in English.
Finding work as a coach with no playing experience was not easy, but Jim Hightower took a chance on Vince and began his ascension to the top.
“He (Hightower) offered me a head coaching job right out of college,” said Vince, “which was a huge risk.”
In his first season, Vince’s team started 0-4, but after a few changes, the team won 22 straight and got his team to the state championship final.
“I’m very proud of that,” he said. “It went a long way in proving that I could do the job.”
With his success at the school, college-level job opportunities quickly opened up. But just as quickly as the door opened, it closed with budget cuts at the school.
He and his wife decided from then on, he was going to spend the next few years coaching at high schools until he worked his way up.
All the while, Vince began his family. He was told he could not have children, but 14 years ago, the Vinces had their first child, a son. Two years later, Vince’s faith would go from being tested to becoming absolute.
Vince decided to pursue a junior college coaching vacancy that would have meant a $20,000 pay cut and no health insurance. He was not hired, but in the mean time his daughter was born premature and chances of her survival were slim.
“I wanted to get back to the college level badly, but for only the fifth time in my career, I came in second,” he said. “This time I’m angry, I’m shaking my fist and pointing my finger at God. I thought it was my life’s most bitter disappointment. It turned out to be my life’s greatest blessing.
“The whole time I was angry at God, he was protecting my family from my foolishness.”
Now retired as a stay-at-home dad to his two older children and his latest addition, a two-year-old son, Vince returned to Louisiana and wrote a book.
The book, he says, has kept him just as busy as his coaching career, he says.
“I miss coaching and for the longest time my goal was get 500 wins, so much so that I don’t know if I would have known what to do if I got it,” said Vince. “But with the book, it was released five months ago and with speaking engagements and so forth, I’ve been kept busy.