Just for a little history of how I got here (meaning coaching varsity baseball and here to this forum). Sorry this is long, but I want to give some context;
I have a son that is a Junior this year and has always wanted to play baseball. He was a phenomenal soccer goalie through Junior High, winning all district honors. We are in a small school district and do not offer baseball until High School with a very limited parks and recreation program that really doesn't offer much for baseball besides a league that is just show up and play. We could not afford a travel ball team so he had to wait until his Freshman year to play baseball. Being a supportive father and not pushing his decisions I supported him dropping soccer to play baseball, that was made a little easier by having a daughter that formerly played for this soccer coach and my son did not like how he treated her through her varsity years).
This team had at least 5-6 different coaches in as many years since I have been involved in the school and in the last two years my son has been on the team, we've finished the season with barely enough to field a team. Last season the coach pretty much stopped showing up (players literally nicknamed him "No Show") after the first game, canceling practice with it 75* and sunny because the field was wet. This is where I come in. After coming home and seeing my son home and not at practice on this kind of day I told him that I would step up and help. I had already told the coach I would help and I had been helping at a few practices and kept books previous years. So, midway through the season I basically became the unofficial head coach.
Last year was a rough season, we were in a very tough district and although most of the teams were gracious playing us we actually had one team score 22 runs in the first inning of the second game of a double header after beating us by 20+ runs in 3 innings the first game. The season progressed to the point that through their hard work and willingness to be coached, we became somewhat competitive. In both of our last two games we had a lead going into the 4th & 5th inning but a lack of pitching depth and costly errors kept us from being victorious.
So fast forward to this season and the Director of Schools asked me personally to be the head coach as they work to find a coach that could provide some stability and build a program. I used to be on the County School Board, served the last 4 years as the FCA Team Chaplin for the football program, served as the Touch Down Club President for the last 2 years and am now the Area Director for FCA for our County so the students are well aware of who I am and I have a great relationship with most all the student athletes in the system. Because of this I started recruiting within the halls, we may not have a baseball program but we are a school that is littered with a wealth of athletic talent just waiting to be tapped into. At the end of last season I literally called the Athletic Director the morning of our District Play-off game and added a kid to the roster because we were only going to have 8 players. As of right now I have 23 student athletes committed to playing baseball and many of those have committed to our preseason workouts.
So, that leads me to my question. My job/role is simple. I do not want this position long term, I am here this year and potentially next year as my son will be a senior but my goal is to build this program in such a way that it is ready for a coach to come in and be successful. I do have an assistant that has experience as a head varsity baseball coach from a small private school and ideally he will be the candidate to take over if he shows he has what it takes.
With many here who have decades of experience, what is your advice? We are a low income rural community, so there are obvious funding issues and baseball is a non-revenue sport where we are and probably always will be. I worked with a local uniform shop because I was told the coach last year cut players because he did not have enough uniforms. I put together a players pack that was only $109 and at least 15 or the 23 could not pay for the players pack. Fortunately the AD and I were able to find enough uniforms, guess the other coach just didn't want to look or didn't want to have more than 12 players, SMH.
Our facilities are not terrible but we are extremely limited on the equipment we have. We don't even have a cage at the moment, but I am working with the Athletic Director and Facilities Director to see if we can rectify that. Fortunately the Athletic Director is my best friend so I know he is working hard for me within reason of our budgetary issues.
My plan is to drive in fundamentals. This site has given me some good ideas on creating a high energy practice to implement some things keeping everyone busy doing the right things, not just busy. I probably have 5-6 athletes who have never played baseball (crazy right) but several of those are gifted athletes, the task will be transferring it to baseball. I have told the team that I do not expect them to win, I expect them to work hard and be competitive, winning is the by-product of hard work. Fortunately I have been able to schedule some teams that we should be able to be competitive and with the talent we already have, potentually wins some games. The AD (remember, he's my best friend) told me after seeing the schedule I was able to build that I may be in trouble because we could open the season 7-0 and the school beg me to take the job permanent.
I have divided the team up into groups so that we can have everyone working at the same time and as little players standing or sitting as possible.
I have 2 solid pitcher, 4 others that can pitch and 3 possibles. Two catchers, one is a skilled player but is lazy, and he might as well be my step son so you know how well he listens to me. I have a 3rd that has never played but is very athletic and does parcore, I'm going to see if I can train him as a catcher but as vital as the position is we will just have to see.
So the advice I am looking for is general and specific. General in the terms of what are some things that would be good to assist in establishing this program other than what I've already done in getting players to the field and second, advice on coaching a program that I hopefully have painted a picture for you as to where we are. Also advice on the best place to pick up discounted equipment and what equipment might be good for the future of this program. We should have a cage in the next few weeks and I am begging for an indoor cage behind our bleachers in the newly renovated gym so that we can take full advantage of those rainy spring days.