The moment you first realized that you might like to make coaching part of your career.
The first moment I realized I wanted to be a coach was probably my 14 year old Junior League coach in West Raleigh when I had a coach by the name of Rich Fountain who really not only matured me as a player but as a person. He had such a positive impact on me I wanted to do it. It was always my dream to play professional baseball but I had an eye opening experience from when I was in high school I never was going to play professionally got a chance to be coached and work out with Josh Hamilton when he was going through his rehab processes and just knew I never would ever have that talent. At that time I wanted to coach and teach at the high school level.
During my freshmen year of college in talking to one of my mentors, Barry Craddock, who was my head coach at Denison and is currently the head coach at the College of Wooster. I was asking him why he wanted to coach. He said it’s the next best thing to playing and it gets his juices flowing. He would just be talking baseball with me in the office and I knew I just didn’t want to be a high school coach anymore. Meanwhile I would be watching recruiting videos on YouTube (my parents banned me from having a TV in my room… thanks to my great 2.3 GPA my freshmen year). I fell in love with being able to watch and evaluate — see what people need to do better with.
Then my senior year my coach Mike Clark would always pose questions to me about baseball strategy and also recruiting actually had me do some phone calls to seniors in high school to help him recruit. I really wanted to stay on board and fortunately he asked me to join staff at the end of the season. Will always thank him for getting me my start.
Outside of mentors, talk about one or more ways you’ve learned some aspect of coaching.
Honestly one of the biggest ways I’ve learned is from my own failings. As a new coach I wasn’t myself. I was trying to be someone else. I wasn’t myself and it was hurting my communication with the players. Also listening to podcast about other people’s journeys have inspired me.
Also one of my favorite things I’ve ever done is working the Air Force Academy Camp. I know Coach Kaz is one of my mentors but the way he put things into perspective. Yes, it’s about winning and losing, but in reality it’s about making better men aspect. As a young coach all I wanted to do was win, win, win!!! But as I got older (and talking with Kaz) I realized it was about building that relationship that will last a lifetime. So molding those guys to become better husbands, better father figures, and better men when they leave me is always something I’m proud of. It’s always an honor when I get a letter for a save the date for a wedding or a former player asking for a job reference it always makes me feel like I didn’t just make them become a better player but also a better man who they can always trust me with. And I have learned that because of my failings over time.
If you could go back to your rookie coach self and give one piece of advice, what would it be?
My former boss, Kip McWilliams, always gave this advice to me especially in my first year at Indiana Tech. “You have two ears and one mouth for a reason”. I always wanted to be the guy to talk at recruiting events, get to meet people talk about my experiences but over time especially in my time at Indiana Tech I learned how to listen. I look back on all the people I have met over my years especially early on like the late great Augie Garrido if I would of listened to him instead of trying to impress him at the convention I might have learned a whole heck of a lot more than I did when I was a young coach. So honestly it’s not about your experiences it’s about learning and listening to others people’s experiences.
What is your favorite memory from a coaching conference or clinic?
I have a couple, I know it’s crazy but it is. The Hot Stove Infield with Kai, Frawley and Cox last year was incredible just a good bunch of dudes hovering around talking infield for hours is amazing. Getting a chance to meet the legend Tim Corbin because of Larry Day who is one of my mentors now with the Indians back in 2014 was great. I still keep in touch with Corbin and can ask him for advice anytime and he always gets back to me. Watching the late Ken Ravizza talk about his book at the convention hearing it explained first hand. Why was that so important because Heads Up Baseball saved my playing career and wouldn’t be coaching today if it wasn’t for that man. A man that was so impactful even though I never actually got to thank him for it in person unfortunately.
Your dream lunch date. One coach. Any sport. Any level. Living or dead. Who is it?
I would love to go to lunch with John Wooden. He is a legend and would love to talk about his pyramid of success.