ACS: Chris Gresham, Finger Lakes Community College Baseball

Chris Gresham
Finger Lakes Community College Baseball
Canandaigua, New York
Education: Virginia Wesleyan College, SUNY Buffalo State, University of Buffalo Law School
Twitter: @coachgresh28
Email: baseballer802 at gmail.com
Official bio at Finger Lakes CC

The moment you first realized that you might like to make coaching part of your career?

I first realized that I wanted to make coaching part of my career in the Summer of 2015 after nearly 20 years as a prosecutor. I had the privilege of coaching a Showcase team alongside Charlie Karstedt of Full Circuit Athletics (@fullcircuitpowr on Twitter). He’s a former D-I guy and was an Associate Scout with the Twins at the time. He respected my knowledge of the game, ability to relate to players and the ease with which I was able to adapt and teach the techniques he was introducing. More importantly, even though I was a “Dad Coach” at the time, he never treated me as such. Before games, he would introduce me to every scout/recruiter that came to our dugout asking for rosters and info on players to watch. I learned a lot about recruiting simply by watching and listening to these conversations. Sometimes I’d be so engrossed that I’d lose track of time and players would come to the dugout saying it was time to start pre-game. Listening and learning about recruiting was so much fun and intriguing that I was like, “I’ve had enough prosecuting criminals, I want coach baseball!” This was further solidified after working a few PBR New York Events as well as Charlie naming me Assistant Manager of the Full Circuit Program. I am very fortunate to have been around, and continue to be around, the right people at the right time.

Outside of mentors, talk about one way you’ve learned some aspect of coaching.

To me, the learning process as a coach never stops so I’m always trying to learn something from someone. But the most impactful moment was way back when Terry Collins was the manager of the Buffalo Bisons. I was a 20-something Little League Coach at the time and the Bisons hosted a Coaching Clinic. Terry himself taught the hitting portion of the clinic and stressed that “keeping the hands inside the ball” was a critical component of good hitting. I kept repeating to myself, “hands inside the ball, hands inside the ball”. I took this info to my band of 12yr-olds and we destroyed the league going 13-0 en route to the Championship. I’ve since heard variations of this concept, such as “hands inside and above the ball” but the bottom line remains: After evaluating the mechanics of a player, especially one who’s struggling to make contact, or a player who’s overly concerned with his mechanics, I go back to the basics of “hands inside the ball”. The player has to focus on this concept and most times, it gets the natural hand-eye coordination back in sync.

What is your favorite memory from a coaching conference or clinic?

My favorite memory from a coaching clinic is actually the same event that ended up starting my college coaching and recruiting career. In the Fall of 2015, Full Circuit hosted a combined instructional clinic and showcase. One of the coaches working the event was from school in the PSAC. We met previously when he recruited a few of the Full Circuit players and we hit it off and are still friends to this day. At this event, he was assigned to the pitching group while I was doing exit velos. During the lunch break, I told him about a middle infielder who I had seen play over the Summer- good exit velo, good footwork, soft hands, etc. After the event was over, he thanked for me the heads-up and said I was dead-on with my assessment. He also asked if I would keep “bird dogging” for him. That turned into me becoming their Recruiting Coordinator and marked the beginning of my college coaching career.

Best career or work advice you ever received?

The absolute best career and work advice that I’ve ever received was when I first started out as a prosecutor, yet is applicable to baseball and any type of career: ALWAYS BE PREPARED AND NEVER LET PAPERWORK GET ON TOP OF YOU. My first boss in the District Attorney’s Office told me that and I took it seriously. I was never a procrastinator but he was telling me how to survive as a young D.A. as well as helping me establish a reputation. It certainly helped because I had to conduct a trial two days later (I won). In a baseball context, timely completion of budget paperwork, apparel & equipment orders speaks for itself. But being prepared applies to both players and coaches. College players need to do their assignments and prepare for exams like it was their job. On the field, they need to have the same mentality and prepare for games and practice like it was their job. We coaches also have to be prepared and organized for baseball event we have scheduled be it a clinic, practice or games & road trips.

Your dream lunch date. One coach. Any sport. Any level. Who is it?

I know this will draw lots of flak from my people in Buffalo, but I’d like to have lunch with and chat with Bill Belichick. Allegations of cheating aside, I’d like to know the formula behind his sustained success over such a long period of time; What is it that allows him to see potential in a player who is “undersized” or has been cast-off by another team? What does he look for to determine that a player is approaching the waning years of his career and releases or trades that former star player in exchange for that guy who’s undersized or been cast-off? There’s something beyond the measurable that allows him to do that year in and year out. However, the most important question I’d ask is how did he overcome the obstacles of having never played in the NFL yet still get the opportunity to become a first-ballot Hall of Fame coach?

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