Groth Interview

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Questions About Junior Colleges


Coach Jon Groth
Tyler Junior College
Tyler, Texas

Jon has an extensive background both in college and professional baseball. His playing experience includes the 1984 College World Series, two years with the USA Athletes in Action team in Europe and the Orient, and two years of professional baseball with the Cincinnati Reds organization.

His coaching background includes time as assistant coach at the University of New Orleans, Georgia Southern University and Texas A&M University.

Coach Groth has completed his Ph.D. from Texas A&M. He is married to wife Kitty and they have five children. The Groths reside in Tyler.

Question: Tyler JC is an NJCAA affiliated school, many of the folks that visit the High School Baseball Web assume that the caliber of baseball played at an NJCAA school is not as good as that played at an NCAA Division 2 or 3 program. How do respond to that?

JG: I can only speak for the state of Texas. In Texas, there are 36 NJCAA colleges that play baseball. Of the 36, 32 are Division I, which means those colleges offer athletic scholarships. Each year dozens of Texas juco players plug right into the Big 12, SEC, and other top ranked NCAA programs and many sign professional contracts. We have had 63 players in our 8 years of having a program, sign with 4 year colleges. Nearly 75% of those 63 were with NCAA Division I programs. We've also had 14 former players sign professional contracts. With all due respect to NCAA Division II or III baseball, the NJCAA baseball in Texas at the Division I level is as good or better than many NCAA Division II or III baseball being played anywhere in the country. I'll go a step further and say that the NJCAA Division I baseball being played in Texas now is as good or better than some of the NCAA Division I ball around the country!

Question: Do NJCAA baseball programs have the ability to offer athletic scholarship money?

JG: Yes. NJCAA division I and II are able to offer athletic scholarship money. Like the NCAA, NJCAA division III is non-scholarship. In Texas, 32 of the 36 NJCAA baseball programs are playing at the Division I level. The other 4 are Division III.

Question: Do NJCAA schools "blend" athletic and academic scholarship monies together to create a package for the good academic athlete?

JG: I'm sure like nearly all NCAA schools, most do all they can to make it as affordable as possible for their athletes to attend. I know at our institution, academic money is available, but usually it is distributed early and students need to get forms and applications filled out early to be considered.

Question: How important is it for a high school player to attend a college team's summer camp?

JG: It might be important or helpful for an NCAA school, but not so for us at the NJCAA level. We have a summer camp, but most of my recruiting is done watching high school games in the fall, spring and summer.

Question: When should a player write a letter of introduction to a college coach? (i.e. after his 10th grade year, etc.)

JG: For us at the NJCAA level, somewhere in his junior year might be advisable, although during his senior year is not too late. During the sophomore year is too early in my opinion. Probably the best time to contact a college is during the junior year.

Question: Is it better to have the player's high school coach send the first letter? Or does it make any difference?

JG: I like to hear from young men directly. Other coaches may feel differently, but our initial response to interest in our program is to send an evaluation sheet to the player to give to the coach. Generally, I think it indicates to me that the young man has some interest in your program if he makes the initial contact, not the coach.

Question: Do sending copies of a players high school / summer team statistics help? Are they of value to you when received with an introductory letter?

JG: Yes. Any piece of information that gives me a picture of what type of player this might be is valuable. Stats can be revealing to the type of player I am dealing with. They also can be deceptive so I never base an opinion solely on stats, none the less, they can help a great deal.

Question: Should a player or high school coach send copies of clippings from local newspapers that relate accomplishments of the player?

JG: Newspaper articles are not as effective as some appear to think they are. I get a lot of newspaper articles that are nice, but they really don't help me in evaluating whether that young man is someone we believe we want to be a part of our program.

Question: Are the "online" internet recruiting services taken seriously by college coaches? Would you recommend them to a high school player and his family?

JG: I would not recommend a family spend money when they can, in my opinion, do the same thing by writing their own letter to a program that indicates a personal interest in a specific program as opposed to being part of a mass group of players highlighted on a website. My perspective is always going to be one that favors personal involvement of the young man in showing interest in our program.

Question: Should a player send a videotape of himself in baseball situations and games? Do junior college coaches review unsolicited tapes?

JG: Video tapes can be a valuable tool because they put visual information at the coaches disposal. A piece of paper may say a player has certain characteristics, but when I can see for myself how he moves, reacts and plays, that is much more meaningful. Video can be especially valuable for players I am not likely to get to see play. I watch every video I get sent to me. It's my perspective that if someone went to the trouble of sending it, I owe it to them to watch it.

Question: If a tape is beneficial to you and your staff what suggestions would you make to the player? Such as all game situations? Some individual fielding and batting situations? Pitchers in games only, or is throwing to a catcher good also?

JG: I like to encourage people to send me video of a player in a game situation, shot by a parent or someone at the game. I also like relatively unedited at bat and pitching sequences, not just video of this players' best plays or at bats. Then its basically like I was at the game. I also advocate that the video include the player showing his defensive skills as if in a pre-game infield situation. The more game like the video, the more meaningful it is for me. If they can keep in mind that if what they provide is basically what I'd see if I'd been at a game, that can be very helpful.

Question: With the increasing number of high school talent showcases in recent years how important is it for a player to attend this type of event? Do you and/or the coaching staff at Tyler attend any showcases?

JG: It's always my recommendation for high school players to get out and attempt to get their skills and abilities out in front of as many scout and college coaches as possible. We do attend as many tournament and showcase type events as possible.

Question: How important is a player's physical appearance? I do not mean is he 6'-1" tall and weighs 205 lbs. What I am referring to is tattoos, body piercings, odd hairstyles, manner of dress etc. Are any or all of these items a "negative" when a college coach sees a prospective player?

JG: I think that is a personal thing that each coach would have to answer. I have seen a change in my coaching career as to how even relatively "normal" players dress and carry themselves. If I was a prospective player, I would simply try not to present myself in a way to anyone that might limit my opportunities at the next level.

Question: If a player has a bad day when a college coach is in the stands watching him for the first time. Does that mean that it is "over" as far as that school is concerned?

JG: If it's the only time a coach gets to see him, perhaps so. But I actually like to see a young man I'm scouting struggle. Granted, he has to show the ability to compete at the college level. However, once that is conceded, how he deals with adversity will give me meaningful information as to what is on the inside, and not just his athletic abilities. That may be more of a predictor to his success that anything I see in terms of baseball ability.

Question: How important is a player's "attitude appearance" when in a game or at practice?

JG: I'm a coach that needs athletes with a positive attitude. I won't recruit players that are negative in their approach or reaction in practice or games.

Question: As the head coach of a smaller college what are the major differences in recruiting when compared to the "major" schools?

JG: Probably the biggest difference is having even a couple of assistants available to go out to watch players. At our level, I have to do nearly all of the recruiting and I can only be in one place at a time.

Question: As the coach of a smaller school do you recruit on a more regional scope than other larger schools?

JG: We'll sign players we think have a chance to make our program better. We've signed guys from out of our region and out of our country. Most of our players are from Texas, simply because I am able to see them and they're able to visit our campus without undue hardship or financial constraints.

Question: So many high school players have the attitude that if they do not play college baseball at one of the D1 top 40 programs they have failed. What advice can you offer a high school player regarding the "big school" stigma?

JG: My own story is one that I share. I played at a smaller, 3A high school, played Junior College baseball, then NCAA Division I my junior and senior years. My senior year I played in Omaha in the College World Series, and then got to play two years of professional baseball. I'm living proof that what you described is false. I also point them to our success in placing young men in the best programs in the nation out our Junior College Program here at Tyler.

Question: What other advice would you give to a high school player that hopes to play baseball in college?

JG: I always try to advise young men and their parents not to press during their senior year, but to enjoy high school ball and do their absolute best. Then, if they aren't begin recruited, go to tryouts. We have a mid-June tryout every year that allows us to see many players we haven't seen yet. Nearly all of the NJCAA colleges in Texas have early summer tryouts. If they really want to play, they might have to swallow the pride, get in the car and go to where colleges are having tryouts.


Coach Jon Groth
Tyler Junior College
1400 East Fifth Street
Tyler, Texas 75798
Tyler Baseball

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Revised February 09, 2003 .