The day began in the near 50,000 sq. ft. Texas Ballroom in the Gaylord Convention Center, which can seat over 6,000 people and was standing room only for former Oregon State skipper Pat Casey.
Casey continued the ABCA tradition to have the coach from the most recent NCAA Division 1 champion talk first. I was fortunate enough to find a seat for myself to hear him talk about building a championship program. His philosophy was centered around recruiting players that fit his vision of winning the College World Series (Fun fact: The ABCA, then known as the AACBC, founded the CWS after the first meeting in 1945. The first CWS took place at Western Michigan University in 1947 between Yale and the University of California).
Casey discussed how he loves walk-on players and how they are so important for his team’s success. He told us that habits create character and character enables the ultimate goal. If you want results to change, change your habits. Another key takeaway I took from Casey’s talk way about creating different methods of chaos in practice to prepare players for adversity. Since game never follow the plan, why should practices?
Throughout the day, I sat in on pitching, fielding, hitting and technology clinics. Not only did I discover dozens of awesome drills but countless teaching cues and unique ways of teaching skills from some great minds in the game. I really enjoyed Red Sox coach Darren Feaster’s infield drills, which will be highlighted in my Best of ACBA Drills blog.
A common theme I am starting to find with a lot of the presentations here are that coaches really believe in taking baby steps towards the big goal. Casey talked about focusing on accomplishing short terms goals that propel the overall mission while Feaster explained why perfecting simple fundamentals create the most complete infielders. It’s a process and coaches and players have to take it one rep at a time.
I will blog a complete breakdown of each clinic I attend from this weekend. Today will be my last full day of clinics before flying back to NoVA early Sunday morning. Looking forward to one more day of learning from #ABCA2019. I can’t overstate how amazing this event is for all coaches!