The moment you first realized that you might like to make coaching part of your career?
I grew up a coach’s son, so the game has always been a huge part of my life. My interest in the game exploded when I started my college baseball playing career at Madison College (NJCAA), where I currently coach now. Here is where I learned the power of the details that make teams great. Head Coach, Mike Davenport, is the most knowledgeable baseball mind I have been around. I am very fortunate that I not only got to learn from him as a player, but also as a coach now too. My love for the game continued when I went to UW-La Crosse to finish up my playing career. We had a lot of success and played some very good baseball.
I wouldn’t say there was a particular moment where I realized I wanted to coach. I loved the game, and I felt like I had been coached well throughout my career, so I knew I had information to share. Sometime during my senior year at UW-La Crosse, I decided that I wanted to give college coaching a shot. Coach Chris Schwarz, head coach at UW-La Crosse, gave me my first chance as the head outfield, assistant hitting coach at the college. I am very grateful to him and the rest of the staff for allowing to jump on board and start my career.
Outside of mentors, talk about one way you’ve learned some aspect of coaching.
One major aspect I have learned is the power of letting players internalize and communicate what they are “feeling,” instead of us coaches doing the only talking. Making our guys communicate makes them “own” their swings and feeling, and feel is everything. I want the players to communicate what they are feeling because it also gives me more direction as a coach, and it gives them the ability to be their own best coach during competition. If they can master their feel and how their bodies move, they then have the ability to make adjustments.
Lastly, I also learned that to be a successful coach, you need to establish trust in the player first. With every new place I have been, my first objective has always been to build relationships before anything else. When you have that trust, you then can teach. It is very true that a player won’t care about what you know until they know how much you care. That needs to be a priority.
If you could go back to your rookie coach self and give one piece of advice, what would it be?
I think the biggest thing I would tell myself is listen more. Like many coaches, when I first started I was very excitable. Part of being a good communicator and leader is being able to listen first, think, then talk. By listening to your athletes, you not only give them more stock in their own development, but as a coach you also understand how you can better serve them and their needs. I have learned that players need to understand that their opinions are important, and that coaching is not a dictatorship. By letting the players have a voice/opinion in the process, it can help create a culture of players holding great stock in the team success.
Best career or work advice you ever received?
Probably the best piece of advice that has kept me the most grounded is the idea of “be where your feet are.” A high-level college coach told me that it concerns him that many coaches are always “looking for the next job,” and not fully committed/attentive to doing the best job where they currently are. He told me that being loyal, and doing the best possible job at my current position will speak louder than anything else when it comes to future opportunities. Another coach once told me “networking may help you find the next job, but if you are not very good at what you do, it’s going to be difficult to keep that job.” Networking is absolutely important, but it is equally as important to be where your feet are, continue to grow each day with this game, and kick ass at your current spot—your athletes and the coach that hired you deserve it.
Your dream lunch date. One coach. Any sport. Any level. Who is it?
This is an easy one, I would want to have lunch with Augie Garrido. If you haven’t read his book “Life is Yours to Win,” you are missing out. It’s one of my all-time favorite’s. His documentary “Inning by Inning: A Portrait of a Coach,” is also great. Everything from “Augie Ball,” to the mental game, to all the amazing stories he has to share, having lunch would be an amazing experience. What I respect about Augie the most is how good he was at getting the most out of his players both individually and as a group, and how he used the game as a foundation to create better human beings. I, along with about 6,000 other coaches got to see him on the main stage at the ABCA convention in Indianapolis. He was awesome. His speech seemed non-scripted and from the heart. His question and answer was also electric. He held nothing back and was completely transparent. College baseball is better because of Augie Garrido.