Coincidence, while returning my daughter to Vanderbilt from winter break in January of 2016, I found myself a last-minute attendee of the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) annual meeting. As a volunteer assistant high school coach who knew little, I was surely the most astonished among the 6,000-plus coaches there.
Coincidence, Virginia coach Brian O’Connor led off the event as the reigning CWS Champion. I sat mesmerized presenter after presenter wondering how I could possibly have missed out on such an event quickly realizing that “you don’t know what you don’t know.” Midway through Day 2, while listening to Jon Gordon and climbing on The Energy Bus, this happened.
Coincidence, a chance meeting of the VCU baseball staff at the end of the convention has since developed into a great friendship. I have been able to observe practices, get to know their staff and players, borrowed their drills and totally elevated my game.
Driving back home to Richmond, I announced my retirement and began my search for meaning and a last career that would somehow involve baseball.
Coincidence, Coach Kirby (UVA) replied to my “Cinderella story, kid-out-of-nowhere” email out of the blue, volunteering for summer camps and gave me an opportunity. From that, I became a regular instructor and developed relationships with UVA staff and other “volunteers” that make me a better coach and better person. I have witnessed their culture first hand (the very culture Coach O’Connor spoke about in Nashville). Before and after practice, during drills and games, in and out of the clubhouse and in camps. And after exposure to a couple thousand campers, including being a RA at overnight camps, I am a better person and confident some of the campers are too!
Coincidence, I continue to attend baseball conventions/clinics and meetings and have developed great friendships with directors in other state baseball associations. A couple were instrumental in sharing their wisdom and in the development of the VBCA. Most states have wonderful, active, long-running baseball coaches associations. After all the above, it blew my mind when I could not find a clinic or convention or anything baseball to attend or join in Virginia.
I now know what I didn’t know. . . there is a lot more to know. What I do know is that baseball coaches at all levels have an innate desire to learn and share and give and grow. I believe there is a great revival of sharing and caring and fraternity in baseball today, supported by technology, but made possible because of the “association” of baseball coaches in one place, at one time, being teammates and getting better. I see young learning from old and young dogs teaching old dogs new technology tricks. The ABCA embodies this – coaches connecting coaches.
That’s my goal for the VBCA. Unite, educate and support baseball coaches in Virginia. A fraternity of baseball coaches in Virginia. Why deprive the young coach in high school or college, or the parent coach doing his part (none of which may have the time or resources to attend a national convention) of the opportunity to connect and learn and share and serve? Especially given the wealth of talent right here in the Commonwealth!
The VBCA will provide convenient, affordable access and exposure to magnificent coaches sharing their experience through various events. Something else I do know: Better coaches make better players and better people. Few players will play at higher levels, but most will become spouses and parents.
As to these coincidences, my belief that the combination of circumstances and happenstances that helped bring the VBCA into existence are nothing short of the mighty hand of God, who has provided me and the VBCA a tremendous opportunity to serve.