WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Since the early 1980s, Frank Leo has led the Hays Larks throughout the summer and into the NBC World Series. Now in his 40th year as the ballclub’s head coach, Leo still has plenty of gas left in the tank to bring home a championship.

“Never in my mind did I think I’d be doing it for 40 years,” explained Leo. “But I’ve enjoyed it, it’s always a challenge, and it’s always a great bunch of kids that you get to meet every summer and create some lifetime memories with.”

Even with Leo now being in his early 70s, he still is able to connect on a personal level with his players to get the most out of them.

“If you can’t really build friendships with your players, it’s kind of hard to communicate with them, teach them things, and have respect for each other,” Larks pitcher, Hunter Marshall, complimented. “He’s really good at building friendships with me and the other teammates, and it’s made us all blossom throughout the year.”

“He’s been doing it for a while, and he knows what he’s talking about,” added Larks pitcher Kaleb Meredith. “He and all the other coaches are, you can tell they care more about us than anything else, and as long as we’re healthy and playing well, we’re going to win games, and they understand that as well as we do.”

Coach Leo was a major reason. Thursday’s starting pitcher, Brady Rose, decided to come back to Hays to play in the NBC.

“Frank is one of the best coaches you can have for a summer ball team,” said Rose. “He does a great job recruiting guys and putting together a quality summer for us to have.”

For coach Leo, he says while this is his 40th season, he believes it certainly won’t be his last.

“I can’t tell you it’s going to be another 40 years. For sure, I can tell you that,” laughed Leo. “I see at least a couple more years. We’ll see how things go. When I finally can’t get out on the field and do it, we’ll have some capable people that understand the history of the program and try to continue that.”

On Thursday, the Larks defeated the Lonestar Baseball Club to advance to the NBC World Series Semifinals.