BYU baseball assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Brent Haring fulfills another baseball role as the head coach of the American Samoa national baseball team.
Haring, who is in his fourth season at BYU, first got involved with the American Samoa national team in 2011. BYU baseball alum and former American Samoa coach Murphy Su’a invited Haring to American Samoa to host a baseball clinic.
“(Haring) is like a Samoan brother to me,” Su’a said. “He is very knowledgable of the game of baseball and knows the culture and loves the people. I thought he would be a great addition to the team.”
Haring was introduced to the President of the American Samoa Baseball Association Victor Langkilde during the trip, and the two quickly became friends.
“It was like we knew each other for a long time when we met,” Langkilde said.
Langkilde said he was most impressed with Haring’s Samoan-speaking ability, a skill he learned by reading the Book of Mormon.
Haring married Mary Falatea, who is of Samoan heritage. After their marriage, Haring wanted to learn the Samoan culture and said the best way to do that was by learning the language. When language books proved to be of little help, Haring and his wife began reading the Book of Mormon together in Samoan. Haring’s Samoan-speaking ability helped him stand out as a candidate for the head coaching job.
After returning home from American Samoa, Langkilde called Haring and asked him to be the head coach of the American Samoa national team.
“Brent is the perfect fit to coach the team,” Langkilde said. “He really cares about the island, the people, the kids, the culture, the language and baseball.”
Haring said he jumped at the opportunity. Along with Su’a, Haring put together a team of men aged 17 to 35. He said the team’s ultimate goal is to qualify for the 2020 Olympic games in Japan. The team is waiting to see if they can get a bid to the 23-and-under world championships in Mexico this summer to help them prepare.
“We feel like we’ve put together a team that if given that opportunity can represent the island of Samoa really well,” Haring said. “That would help grow the game in the island.”
In a place where the popular sports are football and rugby, Haring is trying to instill a love for the game of baseball.
“If they can see the potential in baseball, I think the passion will become just as big over there as it is (in the United States),” Haring said.
Haring has hosted multiple camps and clinics in American Samoa to try to accomplish this.
Haring’s most recent visit to American Samoa was in October 2015 with BYU baseball head coach Mike Littlewood and senior associate athletic director Brian Santiago. The three hosted a baseball camp, a basketball clinic and a referee clinic. They also held a fireside and went to all the high schools to speak to students.
Haring loves the kids in American Samoa. He said they are respectful with fun personalities, like to laugh and joke and love learning.
Haring seems to fit in perfectly with the team and the other children according to Langkilde, who said Haring portrays the Samoan values of respect, humility and love.
“Brent has a way with kids and players where they really love him,” Langkilde said. “He also has a very good relationship with the people in the community.”
In an important role that doesn’t pay, Haring said his focus is giving back to the community.
Haring hopes to start an academy in American Samoa in order to provide kids an opportunity to learn and develop by playing more baseball.
Haring’s influence in American Samoa is appreciated by those he meets, especially to the team and to Langkilde.
“Brent tries his best to advise and help the boys in the most important game of all, the game of life,” Langkilde said. “God has blessed us and we are so thankful and have so much love for Brent.”
But Haring said his service has done more for him.
“It’s humbled me,” Haring said. “It’s been an opportunity to give them something I can give because I love the kids, the people and the culture. It’s awesome to be a part of it.”