Assistant Coach, Baseball
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
Alma Mater: John A Logan, Mississippi State University
Hometown: Steeleville, Illinois
The moment you first realized that you might like to make coaching part of your career?
I cannot think of the exact moment, but I do know that I was blessed to play for a lot of good coaches throughout my career. My High School Coach, John Sutton (Steeleville High School) is probably the first coach who lead me down my career path of coaching. He was very influential in my life. Another was Jerry Halstead (John A. Logan), I had a unique experience being the only returning Sophomore at my Junior College, so I got to see inside his persona, which has lead to a great relationship to this day. Also, Ron Polk (Mississippi State). I never knew the game of baseball could be broken down and detailed the way he does. I do not know where he found the time for practice planning, typing letters to the NCAA and sending Christmas, Birthday and Anniversary Cards to every former player! Playing for him showed the detail it would take to coach at the highest level. Finally, I had the opportunity to GA under Mike Kinnison at Delta State. I got to see someone passionate about the place they work. He takes each loss at Delta State personally and that intensity makes them as good as they are. I was fortunate to be apart of a DII NCAA Runner up team, and if it wasn’t for the opportunity to work with him, I wouldn’t be who I am today. Each of those coaches impacted my decision in different ways, but they all poured themselves not only into the sport, but into us as players and coaches. It wasn’t until I played with players from different programs that I realized how blessed I was to play for those men, and I want to give players that I coach the same great experience I had as a player.
Outside of mentors, talk about one way you’ve learned some aspect of coaching.
Resources. I have a 30-minute drive every morning and evening, so I try to exhaust as many resources as I can. There are great audio resources out there that help get me access to coaches that I may never have an opportunity to reach (Thank you TopCoach Podcast!). Being able to tap into the podcasts has helped me learn so much more than I thought. I know accessing these free resources allow me to get inside information into the top programs in the country. I find no matter the level, each coach brings a perspective or information that i haven’t heard like that before.
What is your favorite memory from a coaching conference or clinic?
I don’t have a specific memory, but I do remember being overwhelmed my first ABCA Clinic. So much great information from some of the best minds in baseball, packed into 3 days. The chance to meet other coaches, reunite with former co-workers and learn from some great clinicians and their programs, is well worth the time and money. I do not get to go every year, and get disappointed when I cannot, but when I do, I remember taking back so much information as I can and hopefully bettering our program from it.
Best career or work advice you ever received?
Coach Russ McNickle gave me the best advice I can think of whenever it comes to getting into the College Coaching world. He told me that when I first got into the College level, “Be ready to not make any money your first 3-5 years.” Was he spot on! Many people do not realize the number of coaches volunteering or working for so little pay starting off, and we do it for the out passion for the players and the game. If he had not told me that, I would not be in the position I am today.
Your dream lunch date. One coach. Any sport. Any level. Who is it?
Wow, a tough question. I would have to say Jerry Kindall. I was introduced to him when my boss at the time, Bubba Cates, won the FCA Baseball Kindall award, for Character in Coaching. I didn’t know much about him, but figured if FCA was going to name an award after him, there must be something special to him! The more I looked into his career, I became enamored with the fact he was a winner at a very high level. I would love to sit down with him and just listen to everything he went through as a coach, and how many different ways he was able to share his faith with so many of his players, and different ways he invested in their lives both on and off the field. Not many people are able to do what he did for as long as he did and if I want to get to that level, it would be great to have lunch (hopefully a Long Lunch), with someone like Coach Kindall and pick his brain for hours.
Hey Eric! Great story, but didn’t see any mention of your stint with the TBones, and oh yes, your host family, the Hickam’s. Was cleaning house and found a baseball signed by you, and a glove shaped pillow holding 3 of your baseball cards! If you would like to have these items, I’m happy to send them to you. We miss you! Kathy and Ed