Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dog Days of Summer

I was recently attending a summer baseball game where I saw something particularly interesting, and it had nothing to do with anything taking place on the field. A gentleman in the stands had trained his black labrador retriever to track down foul balls once the leave the field of play. This dog has a knack for sniffing out baseballs normally lost in the woods, showing instincts comparable to those of "The Beast" from The Sandlot. Below is the footage of the real-life Hercules chasing on down. Good boy!

To look at this, and other Storm videos, check out The Cave's YouTube page.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Camp Date Announced

The Lake Erie baseball team will be hosting a Fall Prospect Camp for all interested high school students on Saturday, September 17th. The camp will take place at Painesville's Kiwanis Recreation Park before the Storm football team takes the field at Jack Britt Stadium. More details will follow, check out the Lake Erie athletic site at www.lakeeriestorm.com.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Summer Reading

We are at the time of year when summer tournaments are wrapping up and coaches and players alike are looking forward to some time off from the diamond. I know I always have trouble finding things to do that don't involve watching or coaching baseball and one can only take so many bogey-filled rounds of golf. So if you're looking for something to do that would still allow you to kick your feet up and relax poolside, you may want to check out a few of these titles. And yes, I have read each of these because legally, I cannot recommend them if I haven't.

Baseball Titles
Bullpen Diaries by Charley Rosen
The Extra 2% by Jonah Keri
Life is Yours to Win by Augie Garrido
Joe Torre's Ground Rules for Winners by Joe Torre

Off the Field
Ghost Soldiers by Hampton Sides

Monday, July 18, 2011

Extra! Extra!

I would like to announce that after weeks of planning, emailing editors and redesigning the site, The Coach's Cave is about to enter a partnership with the Lake County News-Herald. Starting today, The Coach's Cave can now also be found in the Lake County News-Herald's Media Lab online.

What does this mean? Well, nothing for those who already follow this blog and Lake Erie baseball. But this does mean that the blog will have the opportunity to reach a new audience online and in print. This is something I am very excited about and will undoubtedly help increase the publicity for the blog and the Lake Erie baseball program. The content will remain relatively the same (I say relatively because I am always looking for new ideas) and the domain name will remain the same, but readers can also find The Cave at www.news-herald.com/medialab/ along with blogs from other Lake County residents.

I would like to thank the News-Herald for their cooperation with this project, specifically Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps and Executive Editor Tricia Ambrose. I would also like to thank Lake Erie's Sports Information Director Jason Tirotta, not only for his role in setting up this partnership and recommending me to the News-Herald, but for also including a link to The Cave on the Lake Erie Athletic Site and his overall promotion of the blog. Jason and his staff do a top-notch job and are far and away the best sports info staff I have had the pleasure of working with in my seven years of coaching college baseball. Thanks for your help...RAGE ON!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Heart and Backbone

Earlier this week, one of the truly great baseball coaches to ever put on a uniform called it quits. Massillon Washington head coach for the past two seasons, Joe Gilhousen, announced his retirement from coaching. Most people who know Joe, remember Joe from his days at Canton GlenOak where he recorded 575 of his 601 career wins along with back-to-back Ohio state titles and a plethora of league and district titles. But I remember him most from the four years he spent coaching college baseball at Mount Union from 2005-09.

For three of those years (05-08), we worked together as assistants for Paul Hesse. Working with Joe were three of the most important years of my career. I was only in the second year of my coaching career and at this point and didn't really have any definitive plans to make coaching a career. But working side-by-side with Joe and watching him work on a daily basis was the best thing I could have been exposed to at that point in my career. That experience may have kept me in coaching. Unlike Stuart Smalley, I never needed daily affirmation to do my job and Joe was very chary of compliments, but he was always good at dropping a few subtle hints, in his own way, letting you know he felt you were doing a good job. Those hints went a long way.

A hint you didn't need to be Sherlock Holmes to notice was when he recommended to the GM of the Stark County Terriers that I be brought aboard the coaching staff in the summer of 2006. Two summers later, I was the skipper of a team that would eventually break a franchise record for wins that was established by none other than Gilhousen himself.

I have worked with some great coaches in my seven years of coaching college baseball, but none had a stronger influence on the development of my coaching beliefs. He always preached the fundamentals. Whether it was in teaching a hitter the mechanics of his swing, a fielder the mechanics of his throwing motion, or the steps in getting a field ready for play, few had showed the dedication to the absolutes of the game the way Joe did.

I never wanted to be exactly like Joe. I never want to be exactly like anyone. And that was the final lesson I learned from him before I said goodbye to Mount Union and said hello to North Central. Days before I began my first season as head coach of the Terriers, he gave me one last piece of advice. Be yourself. There are always going to be people with their own agendas who want you to things a certain way, but the only agenda you need to follow is your own.

The coaching world won't be the same next spring, and thankfully because of Joe, I won't either.

I wish Joe the best of luck as he prepares for life after baseball. To read more on Gilhousen, read this article from Canton Repository writer (and a former classmate of mine) Josh Weir.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

While You Were Out...

Hopefully everyone is enjoying their summer! It has definitely been busy for the Storm baseball staff. Coaches are busy on the road trying to find the next crop of players to dawn the green and white, players are honing their skills with games in wood bat leagues across the country, while the incoming freshman are preparing for a new chapter in their lives.

Yes, it's been awhile since the last post. If memory serves correctly, it was at some point in the middle of the season. This is not characteristic because I've always tried to take the same approach to the daily grind whether the team is winning or losing, which includes updating Storm fans (and baseball fans in general) on the latest news and notes.

A coach I once worked with a few years ago, once addressed our hitters with these words of wisdom, "If you're going to be man enough to carry it up, you'd better be man enough to carry it back." These words have always stuck with me. That being said, there were other items during the playoff chase that bumped the blog from the priority list. So, in efforts to catch the Cave Dwellers up on Lake Erie baseball, here is a short recap on the year that was in the heart of Painesville, Ohio.

Season Highlights:
  • Program's first GLIAC win versus Hillsdale, 6-1. [Box Score/Recap]
  • Set program mark for wins in a season (21).
  • Junior/shortstop Ryan Rua was selected in the 17th round of the MLB draft by the Texas Rangers. [Full Story] Follow Ryan's journey through the minor leagues here and check out his twitter feed here.
  • Senior/outfielder Brandon James joined Rua as a 1st Team All-GLIAC performer. Junior/outfielder Matt Toth was selected as 2nd Team All-GLIAC and sophomore pitcher Doug Fox and junior/1st baseman Jae Leeworthy received Honorable Mention. [Full Story]
  • The accolades pile up for Rua and James, as they also earned All-Region honors. [Full Story]
  • Matt Toth won the program's first ever Gold Glove Award. [Full Story]
  • The Storm offense finished 2nd in hitting (.313), slugging (.422) and home runs (23) and led the GLIAC in stolen bases (75).
  • Brandon James walks-off against Ashland in the bottom of the 9th. [YouTube]
It was certainly a roller coaster season. The year started with a 3-game skid, followed by an 8-run comeback to get the first win of the year. There were ups and downs which featured a 5-game and a pair of 4-game winning streaks but also saw a pair of 5-game skids, and a season-ending slump that saw the Storm drop eight of their last ten to fall out of playoff contention.

All in all it was a great learning experience. We were reminded of what it's like to go through the grind of a conference season and how there is never a day off when it comes to conference play. We did fail reaching our goal of postseason play, but Truman Capote once said, "Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor." If that is the case, next spring's barbecue should be plenty tasty.

Stay tuned for mini-updates throughout the remainder of the summer. Check out The Cave's twitter feed (@thecoachscave) for updates all year long. For more on the Storm (and other Lake Erie athletic programs, visit www.lakeeriestorm.com. RAGE ON!