The moment you first realized that you might like to make coaching part of your career.
I decided I wanted to coach after my sophomore year of college. I attended Hiram College, a small division III school in Hiram, Ohio. After getting the chance to play as a freshman, I wanted to come back and be even better, like most should. I found myself playing the best baseball I could have been at that time. I had worked with a trainer the summer before and it was the most prepared I’ve ever felt. His name is Tyler Mitchell and I owe a lot of his teaching and guidance into who I am today. I started the season out on a tear. Performing the best I ever had. Then all of a sudden I started to fold and fail. I had a hard time making adjustments and had a hard time learning from failure. By the end of the season, I found myself only coming out of the bullpen as a relief pitcher.
When I moved back home that summer, I thought so much about failure. How as much as I wanted to hate it, I needed to learn to welcome it and learn from it. I struggled mentally that year. It made me want to quit baseball. It affected my relationships with many people. I started thinking about my future and I knew I wanted to coach so I can help players’ mental side to allow their physical side to allow them to be coached into their potential. I wanted to take my experience from that season and apply it to others one day.
Heading into my junior year, the former summer ball organization I used to coach for — the Brownlee Lookouts, had reached out asking me if I wanted to come back and coach. For me, this was the greatest thing for me. I was like 19-20 years old and I sat in a room with a bunch of freshman in HS and I guaranteed every one that was willing to commit to baseball and stick with me during their HS careers, I’d get them to the next level. That first summer, I fell in love with coaching. It also made me feel vulnerable because talking to my new college coach at the time, Phil Brua, I saw things from his perspective as a coach that I couldn’t see until I coached. I disregarded any Plan B’s in life after that summer. Coaching would be my passion from there on out and those experiences has led me to who I am and where I am today.
Outside of mentors, talk about one or more ways you’ve learned some aspect of coaching.
I’ve learned a lot about assisting athletes with learning, feeling, and developing their bodies through OnBaseU. Being a hitting coach, I was always fascinated as a player by how much I was able to learn about my body and making certain adjustments that fit me. I’ve been able to utilize OnBaseU in our program to help our hitters learn about their physical limitations. It’s helped us assist our athletes with pre-lifting and hitting routines, but also making certain adjustments on what/how they do certain things in the weight room. At my last program last year, I had to run our weight training program for majority of our fall due to not having a S&C coach. Without OnBaseU, I don’t think we would have been able to create something that best fit us collectively as a team. Learning through them has allowed me to open my mind to individualized training and programming to assist my hitters become the best versions of themself and find the efficiency to consistently perform.
I love this question. Every Friday we have team building and “Why Talk” in our program. We’ve learned that creating this environment gives guys a different perspective who the guy next to them really is and what he’s had to overcome to get there and what motivates him daily. My “why” goes back to the 16-year-old kid who was experiencing the recruiting process himself. My why is my everything. Something very sacred to me. I grew up in a small town called Navarre, Ohio. I attended Fairless HS. Growing up, I was the only child in my household. My parents sacrificed everything to always make sure I never went without. I had an Uncle Kevin who I also shared my passion of the game with along with my parents. My Uncle didn’t live too far from me. We would spend a lot of time with each other. In the summer of 2013, my uncle unexpectedly passed away. He was only 38 years old. I had walked into his bedroom and had found him that morning and it shattered me mentally for a very long time. I strongly believe it’s where my empathy was developed because I saw first-hand how quick life can change.
My dad and I had such a strong relationship. He always taught me the importance of having a good attitude and a tremendous work ethic. I owe my mentality to him because he empowered me. My dad and I would always drive at night throughout town. Just talking about anything in life. We would talk about baseball and the recruiting process and all the “what ifs” and stuff. We talked a lot about when I got married and had kids one day, what I wanted that life to look like for me. Around March of 2015, The Brownlee Lookout organization contacted me to play for them in the summer. His name was Ben Simon. Ben now works with professional athletes through his agency, Simon Sports. We still talk to this day. At that time, Ben contacted me about playing. My family was unable to afford it due to medical expenses for my dad.
A week later, my dad passed away the morning after we lost the District Championship to our archrival in basketball. A week before, we had gone on a drive together. He kept talking about life and that if something ever happened to him, that I would have to move on, not wait for life to wait on me, and keep going. Wherever I was at, I had to fulfill everything I set out for myself. A week later he passed away. I was crushed. My mom and I walked upstairs that morning to wake him up for work and there he was just lying there. It destroyed me. I had contemplated my own life for quite some time. I spent a lot of time experimenting with drugs and alcohol. I spent a lot of time doing things I knew I shouldn’t have been doing. I lost myself. Ben Simon had contacted me and covered out of his own pocket for me to play in the program. I have the screenshot from that day still because I strongly believe it changed my life and without it — I don’t get the opportunity to experience all I have leading up to this point.
When I eventually attended college, I was so overweight from the drinking I had done to cope with my dad. I was told I wasn’t the same player they recruited, and I felt a sense of pressure that my opportunity to fulfill the things my Uncle, Dad, and I had talked about would be taken away from me. I lost well over 50lbs that year and found myself playing my freshman year. I eventually launched a clothing brand named Envision Clothing Company that focuses on empowering athletes to strive for their daily 1%. My why goes to the kid who thought it was about himself fulfilling something, but instead was destined to help others fulfill their goals, dreams, and aspirations. My Uncle and Dad were such selfless people and I learned that the bigger picture never had anything to do with me but had everything to do with the athletes I would coach down the road.
Best career or work advice you ever received.
The best career/work advice I’ve ever received is to never stop learning. The day I stop learning is the day I should stop coaching.
What is one thing you didn’t know about what coaches do?
When I first started coaching, I was not aware of the many hats that coaches must wear to perform the duties and responsibilities for their program/institution to be successful. It’s not just practice planning, developing players, and playing games. It’s so much more.
Brag on your daytime employer.
I’m proud to say that Landon Hutchison is my head coach here at Lake Erie College. When we had first met, I knew it was not by surprise by how well we clicked right away. His knowledge of the game has helped me grow tremendously the last 6 months. He’s pushed me beyond limits I was unsure I could go past. His empathy, drive, and care for his program and players makes me feel I will never work a job a day in my life. He’s one of the best pitching coaches I’ve ever met in my entire life, and it shows with how much I’ve seen our players grow this fall, given how young we are. I can’t say enough about Hutch. Very quickly has he become one of my best friends as well. I can’t wait to build this program with him for years to come.
Your dream lunch date. One coach. Any sport. Any level. Living or dead. Who is it?
Augie Garrido. His passion, care, and approach to the game and his athletes has spoken volumes to me. The one quote that stood out to me was when he said “This isn’t about some game, this is about our lives”. It’s embedded into me. We spend so much time teaching 18-22 year olds about a 5oz ball, the based that are 90 feet away from each other, and the battle that happens 60 feet 6 inches away from eachother as a pitcher and hitter. However, none of this has nothing to do with baseball. It has everything to do with preparing these young adults how to become a better communicator so they can be a better husband and father. Teaching them how to have a plan because life never goes the way you plan it. Teaching them how to overcome obstacles because in life, life’s going to throw curveballs that a scouting report can’t always prepare you for. The list goes on. Everything you can achieve through this game can help embed the habits to make them successful/serviceable members of our society.