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High School Baseball
Coach Ron Vincent
Rose High School
Greenville, NC


 
Question: You are the winningest high school baseball coach in North Carolina. I have talked to many people that marvel over the consistency of your program. What do you feel the key to that consistency is?

Answer: The youth programs in Greenville are as good as anywhere. The Parks & Recreation Department really stresses youth programs. Small Fry (5&6 - 7&8), Little League (16 teams in two leagues - plus a minor league), Prep League (13 year olds - 5 teams), Junior Babe Ruth (14 & 15 year olds - 5 teams), Sr. Babe Ruth and American Legion. Each league has at least a 20 game season.

 
Question: How many years have you been a high school coach? How many of those at Rose High School? What is your current overall coaching record (wins and losses)?

Answer: This is my 32nd year - 31 coaching high school baseball. 28 years at Rose High School. My overall record is 560 wins - 153 loses.

 
Question: In your time as a high school coach you have seen many changes to the game. Which changes have most helped the high school game?

Answer: The aluminum bat has had the most impact. I like the designated hitter (dh) and the courtesy runner rules, because it gets additional players into the games. Most playing fields are much better that 30 years ago. More pride, better equipment and pitching restrictions

 
Question: Which changes do you feel have been the "least positive" for the high school game?

Answer: The "least" positive for baseball is the disappearance of the "sand lot." Players today really work hard in the cages, bullpens, drills and other aspects of the game. There doesn't seem to be as many instinctive players as before, they don't seem to know the game. Shortening the high school season really hurts.

 
Question: In your time as a high school baseball coach you have seen the advent of the aluminum bat versus the wooden bat. Did you think the metal bats would last - Or did you feel that they were just a "fad"?

Answer: I felt it would last because of economics. When they first appeared a team would only have 2 or 3 bats - they were guaranteed. Teams would only buy one bat per year.

 
Question: What thoughts do you have on the discussions of metal bats versus wood bats? Dangers, trampoline effects, making average players good hitters, etc.?

Answer: Aluminum bats have really changed the game. Players develop different swings because they can hit the ball off the handle. The latest wave of bats are really hot - almost too hot. Pitching has changed because of this - there is much more offense.

 

 
Question: Would you like to see a return to the wood bat for the high school players?

Answer: Because of the economics I don't think it will happen. I would like to see aluminum bats with "exit speeds" the same as the wood bats. Too many mediocre hitters try to hit everything out of the park.

 
Question: What changes would you like to see made in high school baseball?

Answer: In North Carolina I would like to see more games being played during a longer season. Anything that can make for more participation is important to me. Baseball rules have evolved over a long period and many seem to be tried and true. It is a great game in its present state.

 
Question: We all hear the comments about kids not being interested in playing sports in high school any longer, due to too many distractions. (cars, jobs, etc.) Have you seen a significant change in the high school athlete from the start of your coaching career until today?

Answer: Change is constant. There are many distractions. The kids still want the same things they did 30 years ago. They want organization, fairness and they want the game to be enjoyable. There is much more pressure on the kids today. Everyone from the age of 7 years old and up MUST be a D1 prospect! The games must be fun - This causes many to stop playing.

 
Question: In 30+ years of coaching high school baseball you have undoubtedly had some special athletes. What tips would you give a player that is interested in playing college baseball?

Answer: Don't worry about college baseball -- Play to enjoy the game. College ball will take care of itself.

Now -- to prepare for college, players must make the game a very important part of his life. The player must do weights, spend hours in the cages, drill himself on ground balls, fly balls, mechanics and other such things. If a player wants to play he must be willing to do this without coaches and parents forcing it on him. Very very very few players are just born to be great. There are no overnight sensations. Attitude, work ethic, competitiveness, coachablility and desire all come into play.

 
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?

Answer: This is the outside pressure that I was referring to earlier. Everyone wants to play for the glamour schools. The smaller schools offer great programs and great coaches. Players must decide if it is more important to play baseball or go to a particular school. He should go to a school he likes even if he doesn't play ball. Many successful pros did not go to the glamour schools. Remember -- many kids mature later and are often overlooked. They get a chance at a smaller school.

 
Question: Are the players on your teams involved in a structured weight-lifting and/or conditioning program? If so could you tell us a little about it?

Answer: Yes our players are involved in weight lifting through our school. Many are also involved in "personal trainers." Most are involved in whole body development. The older players get more involved in sport specific training. Remember -- Develop your shoulder muscles.

 
Question: Your teams have won 10 state championships. Do you have a favorite team or player story that you could share with us?

Answer: I am often asked this question and usually have a hard time answering. I hate to relate only one or two instances.

The common theme is that the great teams didn't care much about personal recognition. Most just wanted to win, and were willing to work towards that goal.

I remember a player hitting a home run and a bear running out of the woods, into the outfield. I remember diving catches and clutch home runs. Just too many to list.

 
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 hair styles, manner of dress etc. Are any or all of these items a "negative" when you see a player for the first time?

Answer: Very important to me. When I see people like this, I constantly think negative thoughts. They really don't care about themselves and/or their teammates. I don't worry about personal styles as much as I once did. But a player must look OK in a baseball uniform.

 
Question: Do you feel that the baseball fundamentals are being lost - or are they just not being taught?

Answer: Some fundamentals are being lost. The metal bat has caused some of this. Many others are not being taught. Fundamentals are still the foundation for a strong player. Don't short cut the basics. It will hurt you in the long run.

 
Final Thoughts: Any other advice or thoughts are welcome

Answer: Remember the umpire says "Play Ball", not "work ball". Games practices, programs must be for the enjoyment of the players. Players that forget this are usually the ones who put undue pressure on themselves, and don't succeed. Play hard, enjoy every practice, every game and have fun!

Over the holidays one of my senior players was involved in a serious automobile accident. He suffered a severe concussion, broken femur and other injuries, two people were killed in the other car.

Our players began to realize the important things. Practice and play the game as if it were your last. Enjoy each practice and each day.

Our player may be able to play again by the end of April. He would give anything to be out there with his friends and teammates, others must never forget this lesson.

Coach Ron Vincent
Head Baseball Coach
Rose High School
Greenville, NC

 

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