College coaches share life lessons

Wiregrass Cardinal Baseball Team members and Kinston High School students Owen Patterson, left, and Tripp Hawthorne, both 14, were among those participating at the AAU National Championship Baseball Tournament Opening Ceremonies held July 18 at the Ozark Civic Center.

How to succeed on and off the the baseball field was the focus of five baseball coaches as they shared life skill tips at the 2019 Amateur Athletic Union National Championship Opening Ceremony held at the Ozark Civic Center July 18.

Enterprise State Community College Baseball Coach Samuel “Bubba” Frichter, Holmes (Miss.) Community College Head Coach Kenny Dupont, Troy University Baseball Coach Mark Smartt and Auburn University Baseball Coach Butch Thompson joined Alabama Baseball Coaches Association Executive Director Barry Dean sharing life lessons with baseball players, family members and coaches attending opening ceremonies for the July 18-25 tournament held at Eagle Stadium in Ozark and Northcutt and Pitman Fields in Dothan.

The ability to communicate well is a life skill that Frichter said is becoming a lost art. “When you get on the baseball field, there is no cell phone,” Frichter told members of the 14 teams from Alabama, Florida and Georgia. “I want you to dig down deep and think about how effective you are as a communicator,” he told the athletes. “Because if you want to be a leader in life, you have got to be a good communicator.

“If you want to be a good teammate, you have to be a good communicator,” he added. “And it doesn’t always have to be verbal communication.”

Frichter said that body language communicates more than most people realize, citing a football coach who does not allow players to bend over during a game. “No matter how tired they are, the players stand with their hands on their hips. He does that because he doesn’t want to communicate weakness to his opponent.”

Frichter reminded the teens that college coaches look at a potential player’s social media posts. They also consider a player’s body language as they go on and off the field. “The ideal player has energy, knows how to communicate and he is a good player,” he said.

Dupont advised the players to heed the advice of coaches and parents. Prior to joining the Holmes Community College staff, Dupont served as an assistant baseball coach at George C. Wallace Junior College in Dothan under former WCC Coach and longtime Wiregrass Cardinals coach Sammy Frichter.

“If it wasn’t for (Sammy Frichter), I wouldn’t be where I am,” Dupont told the players. “He taught me everything I know about the game, how to act and handle myself—I owe it all to him.”

Smartt explained the college athletic scholarship distribution process and stressed the importance of remaining appreciative to those who helped them achieve their goals. “When a coach offers you a potential walk on opportunity, please don’t take insult by it,” he said. “If a coach offers you a low scholarship percentage at the Division 1 level, don’t take offense to that.

“And remember that you are sitting where you are because somebody helped you get there,” Smartt said. “Somebody close to you, somebody helped you get here. Be appreciative of that.

“Most importantly, make sure you show that appreciation to that person,” he added. “Please take advantage of every opportunity to thank the ones you love.”

Thompson agreed. “The guys that went before me taught me the right thing to do and it’s my turn to carry that torch,” he said about his position “coaching in the best league in the country.

“You want to make a difference for your players and your school,” Thompson said. “You want to make a difference in your state and get involved as much as you can.”

Thompson commended Ozark should for hosting a national tournament. “This is an opportunity for us to keep telling these young people, encouraging these coaches and supporting these parents who have worked so hard to give these opportunities to their children,” he said. “This is an opportunity to celebrate baseball. This is the greatest game ever and hopefully there will be one or two good teaching moments to keep encouraging us all as as we try to battle through life.”

Never quit, Thompson stressed. “We can be sad at the end of the year when the last game is over but when you play for a great program, for a great team, you’re not allowed to be sad until it’s over,” he said.

“Some of the best advice I could possibly give you is to hang in there— because it is not about you,” Thompson said. “It’s about the guy to your right and the guy to your left. It’s about finishing something that you start.

“Don’t be lukewarm. Do whatever you do with all your might. Don’t play this game just because somebody else wants you to. This is the greatest game in the world but it deserves your passion. It deserves every bit of respect that you can put into it,” Thompson advised, adding a quote from the Bible. “In Ecclesiastes Chapter 9, Verse 10 it says, ‘Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.’

“This journey is too short to be ‘half way’ when you are doing things,” Thompson said. “If you don’t practice for one day, you’ll know it; if you don’t practice for two days, your coaches and team will know it; and if you don’t practice for three days, the whole world knows it”.

Dean, executive director of the ALABCA since 2000, was inducted into the Alabama Community College Conference Hall of Fame May 11. He stressed the important of good manners and religious faith.

Quoting from the Bible book of Deuteronomy, Chapter 6, Verse 4, Dean said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength.

“Say, ‘Yes, sir, no sir.’ Good manners are important. Coaches eat that stuff up,” Dean advised. “And the words ‘Keep holy the Sabbath.’ That’s not a suggestion, guys.”

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