Building High School Program: Need Mentor

I am a volunteer coach for my local baseball team. I am 30 years old and have played and coached baseball. I care about kids and want to help them be successful in whatever they choose to do. I currently coach at a small school of about 300 students total K-12. This is my first year coaching in this area. The main sport at this school has been basketball . The baseball team has been struggling for years. I want this to stop and for students to take interest in baseball.

I have had 2 meetings and had over 27 kids sign up. about 10 of them play basketball and aren’t allowed to play or practice baseball until their season is over which is usually mid-March. Our season begins the first week of March. So there are 17 other students that signed up and said they wanted to play baseball.

Come practice time I have 3 kids show up. I asked the three who showed up where was everyone else and they said, “They all said it was too cold coach”. Keep in mind we have a field house we can practice in. The kids act like they just don’t care. My entire playing and coaching career I have had no problems like this. There has always been interest every where I have gone but, these students show no desire to play baseball other than going to a meeting and signing up. Each player has a practice schedule that was given to them at the meeting and were instructed on the procedures of a canceled practice. Still only 3 players show up.

Any suggestions? Anyone care to exchange emails with me through out the season? I need to help these kids and I am open for any suggestions.

Coach Meeker

Your situation is not all that unusual. In fact, in many schools - where one or two programs (boys) seem to dominate, baseball and others can take a back seat in every department. Money, booster support, and so forth.

Baseball is not a barnburner for public interest at your level - never has been, expecially in the colder parts of the country. But then, I not telling you something that you don’t already know.

Like most new coaches, your eager to develop a program that has as much get-up-n-go as you do. I know exactly what you’re going through. I live in Springfield, Massachusetts, and baseball has seen better days to be sure. BUT, one or two programs have thrived and even prgressed while others have sputtered and died.

Why? Why has one baseball program made it, while others have not?

The answer is creativity. Think outside of the box. Be willing to spend some money - in the beginning, to get things going, but not too much.

Here are some of my suggestions:

  • you want a group of youngsters that can run themselves - don’t be a control coach…" it’s my way or nothing…"
  • start off with a good roster of at least two (2) tough guys, as catchers. I mean some real hard nose types. These guys should come from the detention halls - problem kids that can eat brick. Give them a chance to funnel all that “tough guy” demeanor. Don’t try and sit on these two - just give them an outline of what the catcher does, basically, then … like a grenade - pull the pin, and let things happen. People like this are usually natural born leaders. No one screws with these people - aahhhh… there’s your leaders on the field to keep everyone else in line.
  • ask some one, any one, from a local college to visit your school during a schedule practice or other scheduled thing. MAKE SURE EVERYONE KNOWS THIS PERSON IS COMING. Play it up big - so-n-so college is sending someone to look over our crop of hopefulls … or our roster … etc. Introduce that person formally at the scheduled practice, tryout, etc. Don’t forget to ask permission to post this announcement EVERY WHERE at the school. Do it up right - like posters that announce boxing events.
  • ask a few very pretty girls if they would like to be tudors for anyone on the ball club that might be having study problems during the preseason and the playing season. Be willing to spend about $20 for each young lady who says … OK. Let the youngsters work out when and where. All ball players can’t resist a pretty girl … and you’d be surprised how some of your attendance will be there just for that. But I wouldn’t worry too much … remember the hard nose kids … they’ll make sure the rest of the roster stays focused on what’s-what.
  • don’t try and take away the spot light from other, more established coaches in other sports - ain’t gonna happen. Stay clear of these guys, especially those that slap you on the back and say … " hey kid, if you need any help just ask the ole coach here…" Stay away from these people - their ego will have you as a lap dog. Make your own way.
  • be careful “giving away” your role as coach, by allowing others telling you who will and who will not be on your team. Youngsters can smell patronage, “this kid’s in because…”, everyone on the basketball team, or hockey team, etc., automatically gets picked. If that’s the case where you’re at, even in the slightest - you’ve just given up the title of coach, and now you’re a babysitter. And don’t even think about looking any kid in the eye expecting respect.
  • start collecting iron rakes, large equipment like duffle bags, clipboards, pens, notebooks, a large first aid kit, and start scheduling your time for meetings with umpire associations, red cross certification on first aid and CPR, athletic association(s) that govern your schools sport ( here in Massachusetts we have one called the M.I.A.A., I think it is).
  • be very honest with your charges (youngsters) that you’re all there to enjoy the game the best you can. So, don’t run your club, it’s practice and games like a boot camp. Your program is not noted as a top notch club, so go easy in the expectations department.
  • the second player that you should concentrate on is your short stop. Another tough guy who can handle pressure, is not shy of quick action.
  • The next two players I would look for is a left fielder and a center fielder. Both should be quick on their feet, looks of range, decent arms.

Notice I haven’t mention anything about pitching - and this a pitching web site! Your pitching staff will come around later on - but not in the beginning years of your coaching. Let your fielders do most of the work.

I’ve PM you with other things - so I’ll let more folks contribute here.

Coach B.

Ya know Coach, when Lincoln made the Gettysburg Address, he completed it and was perplexed…no one cheered…he made comment about the poor quality of the speech and a self depricating remark…A politician, who became the very first person to ask for a copy of it, said, “Mr President, people don’t normally cheer for a prayer”. In 200+ words the subject was covered so well that there was literally nothing left to say…COACH John Baker just did that for you…
Its why we treasure him here.

Memo to Coach B.:
Yogi Berra once said something to the effect that if people don’t want to come out to the ball game, nothing’s going to stop them.
I remember when I was in high school, we did not have any sort of athletic program, just a general physical education setup. Anything we did in gym was just part of it…volleyball, basketball, you name it. Ours was an academic school specializing in music, arts, the theater—I was a music major—and no one was much inclined to pay attention to sports. So I played baseball on the outside, although that didn’t stop me from corralling a catcher with at least a mitt so I could do some throwing in the gym for about fifteen minutes.
This coach has, indeed, a tough row to hoe, and you have given him some excellent advice on how to proceed. What’s making it tougher for him is that he’s located in a cold climate, and those winters—BRRRRR! Anyway, I too wish him the best of luck. :slight_smile: 8)

Coach B throws down the bible on “How to develop a new baseball program”. I love it.

This is exactly what I needed to hear. I appreciate the input form everyone. I’ll continue to check in from time to time for encouragement :slight_smile:

Coach B, that was just amazing. :applause:

Thanks for sharing your experience, knowledge and wisdom.