1. Why did you go into Coaching?
I’d always loved competing, but after I could no longer compete as a player, I had the desire to continue as a coach. One of my former coaches asked me to be an assistant, and I continued from there.
2. What is the most memorable coaching moment you have ever had? (Does Not have to be softball related)
That’s a tough one… One of the most memorable moments I’ve ever had coaching that comes to mind at the moment is the time when I coached a football game through FaceTime. A few years ago, I had to have a gallbladder removed mid-week, and couldn’t attend our game against Memorial (doctor’s orders). At the time, my starting field corner, Quentin Skinner, was sidelined with an injury, so I relayed messages through him to our secondary through FaceTime, while I watched the game live on my laptop in my chair at home. It was a cool experience for both of us, and he took the credit for another player’s interception…”I told him it was coming, so he jumped it,” he said.
Another moment, related to softball, is when I got my first win as a head coach versus my old high school baseball/softball coach. We talked before the game, cut up and caught up on old times. During the game it got competitive with a few lead changes and argued calls. It was a neat relationship change from a mentor to a competitor, and that’s one of my favorite things about coaching: the relationships on and off the field.
3. What is your favorite moment from when you were an athlete either in high school or college? That’s a tough one… I know it’s a little cliché, but through all the hits, runs, and touchdowns, my favorite moments as an athlete were all about moments with my teammates, mostly on bus rides and in-between games, lots of friends for life.
4. What was the most embarrassing moment you had as an athlete or coach?
As a coach:
In my first year as a head football coach, I had a senior starter as a captain seemingly coached up on the coin toss. I had told him to defer, taking into account that he knew what I meant. He meets me at the sideline as I and the rest of the team get to the field, and informs me that we are kicking and from which end. What he didn’t tell me is that we had deferred both halves… We kicked off twice that game. I had assumed falsely at half we would be receiving since we kicked first. Nope, he deferred both. Now, the referee shouldn’t have let that happen, but he did, and we ended up losing the game by an extra point. I learned my lesson about that one the hard way.
Had one of my little ones poop on the field once too…
As a player:
In high school as a freshman, our senior center fielder was injured early in the season. As the backup, I was pretty excited and nervous about the opportunity; playing as a freshman was a big deal. My coach, Eddie Clover, told me something I’ll never forget in his Cajun voice, “Eddy, you got one thing going for ya; you can run a little bit. You gonna learn to bunt. Everybody else is gonna hit, but you bunt: off a tee, soft-toss, short cage, machine, you bunt. JV games you can get your jollies, but you step in that box, and get on base.” So, for my entire freshman season, I bunted. In practice off a tee, with my partner soft-tossing whiffle balls, off the machine, off live pitching, and in games, I bunted. Games weren’t bad; it worked, I got on base a lot, but it’s pretty humiliating bunting off a tee, especially when the softball girls and trainers showed up during practice…
A pretty close second and related: the same year, during a JV game, I hit my first “home run.” In the excitement of shuffling, show boating, and watching the ball clear the fence down the third-base line (the whole time in my mind telling off my coach that wouldn’t let me “hit” in varsity games, just bunt), I fell down about half way to first, got up, sprinted around the bases in my embarrassment about falling, I looked up as I got close to third, saw my coach chuckling, but turn serious as he stopped me and pointed towards home… “Long foul ball, Eddy. Don’t ever do that again, or you’ll be bunting here too.”
5. What's the funniest thing you have ever experienced as a coach, something that makes you laugh to this day? (I put two… Both might be a little too personal).
Tough one too… I’ve seen kids look for the punt tee and the bucket of curveballs… silly stuff, but one of the funniest things that’s happened recently is tricking Coach Wood into thinking he was going to have to drive to Alabama last year for spring break. It all started with the usual, yearly discussion of where and how we’re going to handle our baseball spring break trip. It’s always a big deal of which players get to go, what kind of fun things besides baseball that we are going to do, and since the covid year trips getting cancelled, it was the first one in a while. We had decided on going back to Gulf Shores, Alabama, that was done, but what wasn’t clear, is how we were going to get there. There had been talked of taking school buses (some other schools were doing it), and we had gotten chartered the last few trips, but the prices had gone up, and it wasn’t in the budget. Long story short, we ended up getting a donation to cover the charter bus to take us, but we never told Coach Wood (his wife was even in on the pranks). In fact, we made up the story that he had to take a driving course, pass a test, and drive for the full 16 hours; I even made a google classroom with study guides… The day we are supposed to leave, we all get to the field with our bags early that morning, no buses, and the charter isn’t there yet either. Coach Wood asks, “do we need to go get the buses at the bus barn?” We replied, “no, they’re going to bring them here; they had to do some last minute refueling,” hoping he’d buy it, and he did. Now, mind you, TJ had been drinking coffee and monsters all morning, so he could stay awake and drive… As the charter pulls into the field, his wife recording his reaction, it was priceless. His eyes widened, jaw dropped, and quickly turned, saying to each of us reactionary comments (not to be repeated) of how “awesome” we all were for keeping it a secret for months, but the best part is when he turns to his wife, like “you knew the whole time and didn’t tell me!”
(Coach Wood may not want that one on there, but it was hilarious)
Something that still makes me laugh happened to Coach Smith, our old DC a few years ago in practice. We were all listening to one of Coach Hurt’s famous speeches after practice, when Coach Selmon, who is afraid of wasps, was trying to swat one with his hat. Not exactly paying attention to his surroundings, he swats errantly in the air a few times, “chasing it,” when his last swat meets full force, the groin of Coach Smith. Coach Smith falls to the ground in pain, while the rest of us are trying, but failing to be quiet as Coach Hurt is still talking to the players. This became a continual thing as we alerted Coach Smith of wasps nearby from time to time.
6. What is the best excuse you have ever received from a player for not being at practice?
I had a kid tell me his mom grounded him from school once. Funny thing was, it was true.
7. What is your Favorite sports movie and why?
This is pretty cheesy, but Rocky IV.
8. What is your favorite sports quote?
“It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.” — Babe Ruth