The moment you first realized that you might like to make coaching part of your career?
“Breaking Down the Swing: Best Hitters of 2012”, an article published by Fan Graphs, challenged me to look at things from a different perspective. At that time I was a volunteer assistant coach at St. Scholastica. It was eye opening how different the movements that they analyzed in the article were from what I was teaching our hitters. This began my process to gather as much information as possible to train our hitters in the most effective way, to give them the best possible chance to have success. Because of these efforts when St. Scholastica funded our baseball program with a full time assistant coach position I felt prepared for the opportunity to make coaching my career and to help continue to build our program, which has won 20 conference championships and competed in 13 consecutive NCAA tournaments.
Outside of mentors, talk about one way you’ve learned some aspect of coaching.
Social media. As a hitting coach, it’s my responsibility to give our hitters the best possible chance to be successful at the plate to help us win games. I have been very fortunate to have Garrett Retka, a high school hitting coach at Henry Sibley HS in Minnesota, as a mentor and have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge from him. Along with his guidance, social media has been an incredible tool, allowing our program to gain access to hitting information and talk with great coaches that we would never otherwise have had the opportunity to learn from. There is so much video available to study and access to coaches who have allowed us to have conversations about culture, competition, movement patterns, mental training, internal vs. external cues and how to create the best possible training environment to develop hitters.
If you could go back to your rookie coach self and give one piece of advice, what would it be?
Culture eats strategy for breakfast. Every team has a culture whether it has been clearly defined or not, take ownership and define it. Our culture is what we do, how and why we do it. We clearly define it to our student athletes; the expectations we have for them as people, students and athletes as they interact with our community, prepare academically, train and compete. The more that a coach earns their players trust and defines the culture; mission, values and standards, the more success everyone will have.
Best career or work advice you ever received?
“Control what you can control,” something my dad told me all the time growing up. It was relevant then and is extremely relevant now. The great part about coaching is that there is so much opportunity to influence and create a culture that drives individual and team success. Along with that, we all need to define our own version of what success is. To me success is seeing our players perform to the best of their abilities in the classroom, develop leadership skills and winning a national championship. The measure for a leader is whether the team succeeds or fails. If I want to be a great leader I need to be willing to take ownership and control everything that I can to help us achieve our mission.
Your dream lunch date. One coach. Any sport. Any level. Who is it?
Bill Belichick. The level of success that the Patriots have been able to sustain has been incredible. Belichick’s preparation, ability to make adjustments, accountability, and trust from his players and his quest for constant improvement are amazing. He has built a culture of competitive excellence where everything counts and players are fully compelled to achieve the team’s mission.