Tulowitzki thankful for dad's tutelage

Tulowitzki thankful for dad's tutelage

DENVER -- Ken Tulowitzki of Freemont, Calif., wondered years ago why anyone would even try to hold back his son, Troy. As early as age 5 and 6, in T-ball and coach-pitch, Troy prided himself on his range.

"We used to play him at shortstop, because he's very athletic," Ken Tulowitzki said. "He would cover every position. If there was a popup to third base, he'd run to third base to get it. If there was a groundball toward second base or in the middle, he'd go get it.

"I had a safety coordinator come up to us one time and say, 'Hey, make sure this kid stays in his position.' I said, 'How's that going to happen? If he can get the ball, he can get the ball.' So anyway, what they did was they had to put him under review by the safety committee, and they moved him up a level."

From there, Ken figured what Troy needed and wanted was to be pushed forward. Ken helped coach all of Troy's teams through his high school years, sometimes pushing hard with the knowledge that the kid wanted pushing. Now Ken is watching his son play shortstop for the Rockies as a rookie this season.

On Father's Day, Tulowitzki, 22, says he is thankful his dad wasn't afraid to push him to excel, since he pushed himself. Dad coached all the youth teams until college. Son pitched and played short.

"My dad was hard on me, and I was an aggressive kid that didn't want to fail," Troy Tulowtizki said. "My dad would tell me guys are going to always keep getting better and match your talent. The thing that's going to keep you ahead will be your work ethic.

"That's the biggest thing he said to me, because that made me work that much harder. I've seen it happen and it's happening to this day. There are guys out there that are better than people, but the guys that make it are the guys with the better work ethic."

Tulowitzki said he worked even harder to show that he wasn't getting a free pass, because he was the son of one of the coaches. Not that his dad ever gave him one.

"I was hard on him in that I made him practice every day," the father said. "We took our teams very seriously. We taught the kids from the minute they stepped on the field. We like to have fun, but at the same time, you want to win and you want to elevate yourself. And Troy is a very intense person. He craved that."

The work ethic extended to off the field.

"I was an average student, even in high school," Tulowtizki said. "I usually did well enough to stay on the field. I wasn't the greatest student. It wasn't easy for me, but I put in time to make sure I still had sports available.

"But I got to college and majored in kinesiology. I knew it had to do with sports. I love sports and I wanted to learn about my body, the things I had to do to keep my body in shape or stay healthy for a long time. It's definitely paying off now.

"I'm a year away [from a bachelor's degree]. I got drafted after my junior year, so I have a year left. I don't know when I'm going to get that done, but I'm going to do it at some point in time."

Having seen his son grow into a strong shortstop with leadership qualities and sound priorities, dad has stopped pushing. Now he's enjoying.

"I don't give too much more advice," he said. "You see where he's at right now. I think I've done a good enough job to get him to this point that he has to learn from other people.

"He's a man. He's bigger than I am, so I respect that. He learns under other tutelage. So he just needs me for support now. That's what I do."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.