New Daleville baseball coach Justin Hendrix and softball coach Scott Parker have been on the job for two weeks and both have hit the ground running in their efforts to rebuild the baseball and softball programs at the school.
The Daleville baseball program was a once proud and successful program but hasn’t found much success in recent years and Hendrix believes stability is the first key to turning that around.
“I feel like the kids deserve someone that’s here for the long haul and someone that wants to build a program,” Hendrix said. “They’ve had a bunch of teams (here) but haven’t had a sense of stability in the program in a long time and I hope to instill that.”
For the past eight years – after a stint in the military following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks – Hendrix has been an assistant football and baseball coach around the state but Daleville will be his first head coaching job.
“I have eight years of coaching experience but I’ve been playing the game my whole life,” he said. “I’m from (this) area and I know what good baseball looks like.”
Hendrix was a star baseball player at Enterprise and then at Enterprise State Community College and Faulkner University, where he won an NAIA World Series Championship.
“I want to get us back to the roots of the game and be fundamentally strong,” Hendrix emphasized. “Getting them back to that and having fun doing it is the important thing. I want practice to be something they look forward to every day, not something that they dread.”
Hendrix said one of the keys he’ll be focusing on is to bring his team together.
“We have to play as a team,” Hendrix emphatically said. “They haven’t had a lot of success here the last few years, so we have to do a lot of team building activities to bring everybody together as a cohesive unit.
“Whether that’s working out together or catching ground balls together or going to AdventureLand together; we have to do things together and make this team a family environment.”
Hendrix’s connections to Daleville runs deep, as well, as his grandparents currently reside in Daleville and both of his parents graduated from Daleville High School.
“I’m from the area and it was important to me to come home in a way,” Hendrix said. “I’m really looking forward to it.”
While this will be Hendrix’s first head coaching job, Daleville is Parker’s fifth. In the past Parker has been the head softball coach at Carroll, Headland, New Brockton and Cottonwood.
New Daleville football coach – and former softball head coach – Desmond Lett was a big reason for Parker’s decision to move from Cottonwood to Daleville.
“I really like him a lot,” Parker flatly said. “I know two or three coaches that coached him, some that coached with him and I’ve coached against him (in softball). So, I’m really excited about working with him in football and softball.”
After coaching the Daleville softball team for the past two years, Lett will move to assistant coach of the softball program as he takes over the football program, as well.
Parker said that he could also feel the excitement from Daleville principal Josh Robertson in wanting to restore pride in all of Daleville’s athletic programs.
“Mr. Robertson has been great as far as offering support and I know he’s interested in seeing all of our programs do well,” Parker said. “He grew up in Daleville so he remembers what it was like when Daleville was winning in every sport and he wants to get back to that.”
While the Daleville softball team has struggled for years, Parker had the opportunity to coach against them the last several years when he was at both Cottonwood and New Brockton.
“What I saw out of them is that they were very young but they had a lot of effort and hustle,” Parker said. “We have to work more on the skill stuff and the physicality of the game.
“I train my softball players the same way I train my football players because (the game) is not a marathon but it’s a series of sprints. I see players all the time running three or four miles at a time but why? You won’t do that in a game. You might run 90 feet several times a game, so let’s work on that.”
Parker said that he wants to ensure that his teams are playing the best teams in the state, as well.
“We want to play good teams all the time,” Parker said. “That’s something I just believe in. I want to play the toughest teams we can get to play us because the end of the year is what matters in softball.
“If you are prepared and you’ve seen great teams and great pitching all season then you will be prepared to win at the end.”
Both Hendrix and Parker will also have big roles on the Daleville football team as Hendrix serves as the team’s new defensive coordinator and Parker coaches the offensive line.
Hendrix was the linebackers coach at Carroll last season while Parker coached the offensive line at Cottonwood.
Hendrix said that one of the primary things that he wants to do with the Daleville defense this season is simplifying things.
“We want to make things a lot more simple for the kids so we can have them out there flying around, making tackles and just be fundamentally sound football players,” Hendrix emphasized. “We want to have the least amount of kids playing both ways (offense and defense) this year, so we have to develop some depth, too.”
Coming out of the 2018 season, Lett and some of his leaders – like senior Jalen White – have been preaching about finishing after the Warhawks’ collapsed in the fourth quarter of last year’s playoff game against Leroy. They’ve also been concentrating on holding each other accountable, and that has stood out to Parker early on in summer workouts.
“They’re working really hard and I’ve been very impressed with how they go about things,” Parker said. “(That loss) is on their minds and that’s a great place to be in to have that last game on your mind and for it to be a motivating factor. Jalen and all of those guys are always talking about finishing and holding each other accountable.”
Parker relayed a story from his first week on the job at Daleville where offensive lineman Serrano Rivera held himself accountable during a workout.
“We were doing power clings and we had eight to do and as we were getting done I asked if he had one more in him,” Parker continued. “He looked at me and said that he had two left in him. He didn’t come all the way up on his last one clean and I just wanted to see how he would respond and if he would hold himself accountable for that one. I told him that was the answer I wanted, he’s already holding himself accountable.”