Impact Baseball decided to stay in house and interview the head man for this edition of "Up Close" Mr. Andy Partin. Partin's track record speaks for itself having helped over 440 young men move on to play college baseball. Andy brings and abundant amount of knowledge and dedication to Impact Baseball and The Dirtbags program.
Name: Andy Partin
1997 – 1999: Varsity Assistant Coach at Riverside high school
1997: North Durham Little League (13U). At 19 years old, I was voted to coach the 13U All Star Team. (Pretty cool)
1997 – 2001: Head Coach North Carolina Warhawks (13U, 14U, 15U). Finished 3rd in AAU National Championship
2002 – Present Day: Head Coach of the Dirtbags Baseball Club
2009 – 2011 – Varsity Head Coach at Forsyth Country Day School (2011 State Champions, preseason ranked #4 Nationally by Perfect Game USA)
You had an exciting three year coaching career at Forsyth Country Day. How was that experience?
It was great. I was treated very well by all the staff, supporters and faculty at FCD. It was great time in my life. I developed great relationships with many people in my time there and really learned a lot about myself as a coach and how to handle situations I wasn’t used to dealing with.
In 2011 you won the State Championship at Forsyth Country Day, describe that journey for you as a Coach.
When you have a team that talented you are more of a psychiatrist than a coach! I’m pretty sure every coach reading this would love the opportunity to coach two draft picks, and seven D-I guys on the same team (laughing). That spring was a blast and a real challenge for me as a coach. I had to constantly find ways to challenge those guys as individuals and as a group. We did accomplish some great things that spring though. After really buying in to our strength plan we hit 62 homeruns as a team, breaking the North Carolina high school state record and ultimately winning the school’s first State Championship.
Since you are not coaching high school baseball in the spring anymore, what's on tap for you this spring?
I will be out and about watching high school games of course and running our tryout camps. The spring is also a time when I enjoy spending time with my wife Tracy and our 3 kids (Molly-7, Cooper-4, and Lucy-2) before the very busy summer schedule gets going.
How has the game changed since 2001 when you first started and helped create this “thing” we call showcase baseball?
That’s a loaded question. I wouldn’t even know where or how to begin answering that question... I will write all about that in my future book.
The WWBA World Championship comes every October to Jupiter, Florida. The top 85 teams in the USA, Puerto Rico and Canada come in full force. Some of those teams are bringing kids in from all over the nation to fill their rosters and make “All-Star” teams, while you take kids that play with you all season long from North Carolina and continue to do very well against some of the top players in the country. What do you point your success to?
Well first, we have some of the top players in the USA in our program. Secondly, my perception has changed over the past 10 or so years. I began with the idea that “if you want to compete Nationally, you have to recruit Nationally.” I found out you can be successful with your group of guys and adding 1, 2 or 3 players from outside the organization. We’ve never had more than 3 players on a select-team from outside our own organization. 2008 was the last time we took any player from outside our own program to Jupiter. Since then we have a World Championship, a 5th, and a 9th place finish the past 4 years down there. So, you can be successful both ways. Now we just choose to compete with the guys in our program. I think there is a lot to be said about that.
Now, I think the reason our teams are so successful is a combination of following our own principals and playing the “Dirtbag Way.” We do things the right way. We demand a lot out of our guys as far as working and playing with great effort and respect. We’re interested in developing our players and forming winning “teams.” Our guys develop trust with each other, and believe in one another. Mix that all up with some great players and personnel and you will have some teams that are tough to beat.
Why did you start the Dirtbags?
To be honest I really enjoy helping young people; I love teaching them what I have learned, I am extremely competitive, and I really love to teach baseball. It’s been a great vehicle for me to reach young people and hopefully inspire them in some way. Plus, it fuels my competitive side. I love competing for something, and I love watching each of my team’s develop differently.
Who do you try to model your coaching after?
I just try to be myself. I think when you try to be somebody different your players see through that. I coach kids the way I would have wanted to be coached. I coach them same way now, as a 34 year old as I did when I was 19. I just know a lot more about the game now, and I probably don’t sound quite as “cool” as I did back then.
Below I am going to list some former players of yours, describe in one word what comes to mind when you hear their names:
Dylan Dickens: Clutch
Levi Michael: Warrior
Lee Land: Teammate
Seth Constable: Competitor
Kyle Seager: Gamer
Dustin Ackley: Freak
Adam Pate: Leader
Benton Moss: Inspiring
Jeremy Synan: Blue-collar
You did something very unique and chose to retire Tyler Hanover’s #3 jersey. Please describe what he brought to the program.
If there is a face of the program it’s Hanover. When I decided on the name of my program, I chose the “Dirtbags” because of the type of player you expect to see wearing that uniform. Tyler Hanover is the epitome of a Dirtbag. I love the energetic, dirty-shirt, blue collar guy who gets after it. We have had several of those guys over the years. There are not enough adjectives to describe Hanover in my mind. He made such an impact on our organization and really helped pilot us to another level. I felt the best way I could show my respect and appreciation was by never allowing anyone else to wear his #3 again. I’ve got all kinds of great Tyler Hanover stories. I love talking about that guy.
What's your most memorable Dirtbag game?
2010 Final 4 in Jupiter we matched up with the pre-tournament favorite St. Louis Cardinals Scout Team. They ended up having like 6 or 7 of the top 30 picks on that team. It was the most talented team I have ever seen on the field. I’m going to take a hunch and say NOBODY other than us thought we were going to win that game. As I watch our bulldog, sub-marine right-hander Dylan Dickens carve up first-rounder after first-rounder; we continued getting runners on base and I saw our team really believe we were going to win. With the bases loaded and two outs in the 6th inning, Seth Constable hit a swinging bunt in front of the plate and beat it out at firstbase to score the game’s only run. We went on to be 2010 World Champions.
If you could give the high school kids out there a piece of advice about having aspirations of playing at the next level what would it be?
I could talk for hours on this subject. I’ll answer with this… If you want to be great at something you have to learn everything you can about it and practice it over and over again. You have to work hard! Too many people think they are working hard when they aren’t really working hard at all. Ask yourself, are you really doing everything you possibly can to become the best you can be at whatever it is you are trying to accomplish? Next, you have to make sacrifices. To get something, you usually have to give up something. Becoming really good at something isn’t easy. You can’t become great overnight; it takes time and persistence. After that, I’d say be much, much more realistic about your own ability level. Not every kid can play in the ACC. Not every kid can play Division I baseball. And that’s OK! Thousands of young men have played small college baseball and went on to have great careers in professional baseball, but more importantly in life.
So, I must ask, Matt Vernon brought up this fishing competition with me the other day. Can you describe that day and how you were able to conquer the match up against him and Wood Myers? From what I understood from Matt, it wasn't even close it was kind of like a wave the white flag kind of deal.
I’ve been fishing in small ponds for longer than they have been alive. Just listening to them talk about fishing I knew I was going to win if I could catch just one fish. I ended up pulling in two bass in about 45 minutes; one was about 3 or 4 lbs. And to set the record straight, I had never fished at that pond before. My truck did look nice after they washed it. So if baseball doesn’t work out for Matt and Wood they could certainly open up a car wash.
What's your hobbies outside of baseball?
I prefer to spend any spare time with my wife and kids. Currently we have several evening “Just Dance 4” contests per week on the Wii between family members. Needless to say I can’t beat my 4 year old son Cooper or my 7 year old daughter Molly. And I’ve come to realize I will never beat my wife Tracy at this game. Anyone who plays Lucy, my 2 year old daughter can’t finish the game because she screams and cries if she can’t have both remotes… One other hobby I would have to include is moving the weights around at the gym. I really enjoy doing that.
What’s your favorite TV Show?
Finding Bigfoot (Animal Planet)
Being a huge Duke basketball fan, who is your one favorite player of all time for the Devils:
That’s easy, Christian Laettner, without a doubt. He’s one of the top college basketball players and probably the best competitor of all time.
One last question: At the end of the day, what are your goals for yourself?
I want to be the best husband and father I can be. That’s number one. Secondly, I really love to inspire people to roll up their sleeves like I did the last 11 years and get things done. And of course, I will continue to pave the way for many others to follow in my chosen profession. After that, I want to do what makes me happy and enjoy waking up each morning. I have several projects I am currently working on also, some outside of baseball. It’s an exciting time!
We here at Impact Baseball would sincerely like to thank Mr. Andy Partin for his "Up Close" interview. Please stay tuned for more exciting interviews and articles here from Impact Baseball...
Impact Baseball started out this morning in the eastern part of North Carolina, now we travel out to the western part for this edition of "Under The Gun" with Conner Leonard. Leonard has high expectations for his junior season and hopes to lead Reagan High School back into the 4A playoffs. Leonard is looking to lead not only with his big time stick, but also from his past experiences.
Name: Conner Leonard
High School: Ronald Reagan High School
Position: 1st Base
College Commitment: Uncommitted
When did you first take up the game of baseball?
I first started playing T-Ball at the local YMCA at the age of four.
Who do your model your game after?
I model my game after Boston Red Sox player David Ortiz (Big Papi).
What are your strength's on the diamond?
My strengths on the diamond is my hitting ability. My fielding is not far behind, but my biggest asset is the ability to hit the baseball.
Give me the outlook of Reagan this year, what are your expectations?
We are really excited about this year’s team. We have every starter back from a successful club last year. We should be able to put a lot of runs on the board, if we can settle in early on a pitching rotation, we can beat anyone. I am really excited to compete with this year’s Reagan club.
What have you been doing this off-season to get ready for a big junior campaign?
I have been running, lifting weights and doing core exercises on a daily basis.
Who's Reagan biggest rival in baseball?
I would have to say Mount Tabor; we have always had good battles with them over the past couple of years.
If you had to give us a prediction of Reagan 2013 season, what would it be?
If I had to give you a prediction, I am saying a 4A Central Piedmont Conference Championship and a deep run into the 4A State Playoffs.
Who's the best player you have played with?
Logan Koch (South Carolina Commit) behind the dish, he caught for my team playing at Appalachian State this past summer.
Who's a pitcher you would not want to face in high school baseball?
Hanson Butler (UNC commit) is a tremendous pitcher; it will be interesting because we do play his high school team this year.
When you hear the following names, tell me in one word what comes to mind:
Tripp Shelton: Smooth
Jeremy Walker: Control
Cole Hart: Velocity
Matt Vernon: Power
Bailey Jones: P.O.
Chandler Seagle: Funny
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
Pitching and catching were my primary position until I came to High School.
When you hear the word "phenom" who comes to mind and why?
Josh Hamilton, he came back from being in the gutter and now is having a tremendous career.
What are your pregame rituals?
My pregame rituals are, I always retie my shoes before the game starts.
What are your personal goals for the season?
My personal goals are to continue to get in as best shape as possible and to help my team win anyway that I can.
What are your plans for the summer?
Playing for the Dirtbags!
Impact Baseball would like to thank Conner Leonard for his "Under The Gun" interview. Best of luck to him and the Reagan baseball team this season..
We've got one more interview to come today, you don't want to miss it!!
Impact Baseball decided to sit down with our Senior Operations Director Mr. Lee Land for this edition of "Up Close". Mr. Land brings an awful lot to the table with Impact Baseball, Inc. and to the game of baseball. Land's knowledge and understanding of the game goes way beyond his years, as he has played all over the country in college and professional baseball.
Name: Lee Land
Coaching Experience: 6 years -Dirtbags, 3 years HS - (DH Conley 2009, 2010/Riverside 2013)
Playing Experience: Riverside HS (2000-2003, Wake Forest (2004), Arkansas (2005-2006), Brewster Whitecaps (Cape Cod League - 2007), Oakland A's organization (2007-2008)
You have played all over... the Cape Cod League, ACC, and SEC. What was the best atmosphere in college baseball you ever been a part of?
Tough question... I have been fortunate enough to play in front of great crowds. Our crowd at Arkansas was tremendous. 12,000 fans in the face of the opponent for nine innings. I still get goose bumps when I hear them call the hogs, "WOOOOO PIG SOOIE!". After the game, the same group of 25-30 fans had a buffet line in the parking lot for the players with some of the best country food with a mix of the south/midwest. Away from home... Mississippi State or LSU was a tough environment. I do remember a game at Tennessee like yesterday. In the 5th-6th inning I went into the training room directly behind dugout to get stretched before the late innings. I knew we had some action going in the bullpen so when the phone rang in the room I didn't think twice about answering it. Well, it was the student section! They had the number to the room and as I looked out the dugout I can see one guy, on the phone, right in the middle of the student section wearing me out! They got me even more when Chase Headley (San Diego Padres) took me deep over their scoreboard.
What was your most memorable game in college baseball?
Definitely the NCAA Regional in 2005. We (Arkansas) were a #2 seed in the Austin Regional where Texas was the #1 seed. There is already a strong rivalry between Texas-Arkansas going back a long time to the old Southwest Conference and meeting in NCAA tournament just added a little extra punch. We beat Texas 9-2 in the second game of the regional meaning they would now have to come back and beat us twice. After that game and a few choice words between our pitcher and their bench... We cleared benches. It made those next games even more intense and their fans showed no mercy on us for the next 18 innings. Texas smoked us the next game... 18-5 I think... Then they beat 5-3 in the rubber match and sent us home. Texas did go on to win the College World Series that year.
Who was the best hitter you ever faced while you were on the bump?
Not sure... I never thought about it because I was never worried about who stepped in the box. I just knew I was getting them out. I know I faced guys like Drew Stubbs, Chase Headley, Matt LaPorta, Pedro Alvarez, Stephen Head, Gordan Beckham... but to say who was the best... I don't know.
Who's the best college baseball team you played against?
The 2005 Texas Longhorns were loaded... perhaps though it may have been Rice. My freshman year at Wake Forest (2004) we played at Rice. The had three first-rounders in the rotation (Jeff Niemann, Phillip Humber, Wade Townsend)... Are you kidding me? Three guys...one college staff... one weekend rotation... drafted in the first eight overall picks! Good luck!
Playing at Riverside High School and Ryan Falcon playing at Northern Durham, I know you guys had some good rivals. How did you fair against him?
Man, I couldn't figure him out. I had one infield single off him in high school. I did take him deep during a scrimmage in college though.
Being an assistant coach at Durham Riverside now, how is the team looking for his coming year?
It seems like we have a good core returning from last year’s team that was successful. We are still getting a feel for our pieces but from what I have seen I think we will have a very good season.
You are a diehard Tarheel basketball fan, what's the best game you have ever attended that comes to mind?
I was lucky enough to say I attended the 1993, 2005, and 2009 National Championship games.
What are your hobbies outside of baseball?
There used to be a whole lot of them until my son, Ryne, was born this past July. Enjoy being apart/around sports, family, and friends.
What's your favorite television show?
Psych, Burn Notice, NCIS, Shark Tank, Wicked Tuna, Suits... and more.
What's your favorite quote from a movie?
Yo, Adrian. I did it! (Rocky II)
What's your favorite movie?
Impossible to narrow down... in deep thought here... um... Can't do it.
What's your favorite actor?
James Roday from Psych
Impact Baseball would like to take this time to thank Mr. Lee Land for his "Up Close" interview.
Stay tuned for more here from Impact Baseball...
Impact Baseball traveled to Currituck, North Carolina this morning for this edition of "In The Dugout" with Coach Justin Hill. Currituck High School has made some noise in North Carolina High School baseball over the last couple of years under Hill. Coach Hill is very excited to get his 2013 Knight's on the field and ready to get this season rolling.
Name: Justin Hill
Currituck High School Head Baseball Coach
Years at Currituck: 5 Years
Location: Currituck, North Carolina
The last three years Currituck High School has had some solid clubs, which have gone on to the second and third round of the 3A baseball playoffs. What is your secret to success?
I don’t know that I have any secrets, we just preach hard work. I try to maximize all my time with the athletes. That comes from alot of planning and alot of team discipline. We have high expectation every year and our guys know that coming in.
What are your expectations for this season?
I don't want to call this a rebuilding year but we do face challenges with only four returning starters from last year. We will have alot of guys in the lineup with no varsity experience. That being said I am still optimistic that we can be successful.
What's the varsity roster looking like in terms of seniors, juniors, etc.?
I anticipate having only three seniors, we have a pretty solid junior class that will need to step up big.
What have your players been doing this off-season to get ready for another season of Knights baseball?
We have been doing a combination of field work and weight room activities in the offseason. We try to do explosive baseball specific workouts in the weight room combined with the normal routine of bullpen, hitting, and fielding sessions on the field.
Like I said earlier, you have had some solid clubs. Every year you seem to just reload after losing some guys that have gone on to play college baseball. Your junior varsity must be having alot of success as well. What's your message to the young guys that come into your program?
I talk alot about tradition with our guys; they understand that the guys before them have been successful and that the expectations here are high. We have had good participation in preseason workouts from our young guys as well.
What's the strength of this year Currituck baseball team?
Our strength this year will be at the top of our pitching rotation. We have a junior who is going to be something special for the next two years. We also have a senior who will also see alot of time on the mound, which we are expecting big things from.
What's the most memorable game you have had while coaching at Currituck?
First Flight is always a big rival conference game for us. They have a very good program and anytime you can beat them it’s a big win. Any playoff win you can get is memorable as well; I have yet to play an easy one in any round of the 3A State Playoffs.
Who's the best player you ever coached?
I have been fortunate to have some good players come through. I think the overall best may end up being a current junior on this team Evan Voliva. He can play every position on the field at a high level, he is going to make some noise over the next two years.
What's a typical game day like for you?
A typical game day for me comes with alot of preparation and anxiousness, as soon as I wake up I’m ready to get on the field. Game time can never get here fast enough and I probably get very little sleep the night before.
What's your favorite hitting drill for your players?
I don’t have a favorite drill, but I prefer doing as much live arm work as I can possible get in. I’m always looking for former players to come in and give us a live look in BP.
Who's the best player you have seen in North Carolina High School baseball?
One of the top players in recent years that comes to mind is Alex White. I never even saw him pitch until he was at Carolina. I saw him making plays at shortstop and swinging the bat in high school. He was a special player all around on the diamond.
What's your type of player?
Simple: Team oriented hard worker.
What are your hobbies outside of baseball?
I like all sports; I coached football at the school for eight years. I enjoy playing softball, but my knees are shot. I try to duck hunt as much as I can in the offseason
What's your favorite music?
What's your favorite fast food restaurant?
Who's your favorite college basketball team?
Who's your favorite MLB Manager?
Don’t have one since Bobby Cox stepped down.
Who's your favorite MLB team?
We would like to thank Coach Hill for his "In The Dugout" interview here at Impact Baseball. We wish him and the Knights the best of luck this season.
Stay tuned for two more "homerun" interviews later today here from Impact Baseball..
Impact Baseball traveled out to Clemmons, North Carolina this Monday morning to kick off another week of interviews. Clemmons is the home of the 4A West Forsyth Titans. We sat down with the juniors Travis Holden and Tripp Shelton to get their perspective of the 2013 Titans.
(Pictured Left to Right, Travis Holden, Tripp Shelton)
Name: Tripp Shelton
High School: West Forsyth
College Commitment: Undecided
Name: Travis Holden
High School: West Forsyth
College Commitment: Undecided
What are your expectations for West Forsyth this spring?
Tripp: My expectations are for us to compete for a conference championship and to make a deep run in the state playoffs.
Travis: I expect to win the conference title and go deep into the playoffs. Our conference is very good all-around but I believe our team can out pitch and out work our opponents.
What have you been doing this offseason to get ready for the spring?
Tripp: I have spent lots of time in the gym trying to add muscle. Everyone has been telling me I need to get bigger and stronger, that’s what I been trying to do this off-season.
Travis: In the offseason, I have been spending a lot of time in the weight room and working every week with Coach Falcon to sharpen my pitching mechanics. I have also been long tossing and doing what I can to get bigger, stronger, and faster.
Who's West Forsyth biggest rival in baseball?
Tripp: Davie County High School
Travis: I think our biggest rival is Davie High. Since I went to Davie County in elementary and middle school, I know a lot of the guys on the Davie team. It will be a good game and I am counting down the days until we face each other.
What should the fans expect when coming to watch a game this year?
Tripp: Fans should expect a very deep pitching staff, good defense and fundamental baseball.
Travis: It is definitely going to be exciting every single game we play at home this year. We have the talent to out hit and out pitch any team out there and the fans should expect to see some good baseball.
What's a typical day like for both of you guys?
Tripp: I get up around 6:15 go work with my trainer at the gym after working out, I come home get ready for school. After school I either go hit and throw or go back to the gym for some type of cardio workout.
Travis: I go to school then I head to the weight room to lift weights and/or hit and throw. Once I get home I knock out the homework then head to sleep. The following day I repeat it all over again. If I’m lucky, I play a little basketball after working out, if I have time.
Guys, what is up with this long hair? Is this the new trend at West?
Tripp: For me I have just grown it out this winter, but it does seem to be a trend at West.
Travis: You could definitely say the mullet is back on the rise. I have been told that I am a trendsetter.
You guys being older classmen now, I am sure the younger guys are looking up to you. How are you guys leading the Titans?
Tripp: I am more of a leader by example so I try to show dedication in preparing myself for my sport and how I act.
Travis: This is my first year at West Forsyth having transferred from Forsyth Country Day School, so I am trying to lead by example. I am just working hard every day to be the best player I can. Hopefully, that will rub off on the younger guys.
Who's the best player you have played with?
Tripp: Wood Myers
Travis: Adam Griffin is the most talented player I have played with. He has great eye at the plate, good wheels and throws BB’s from the outfield. He also has a 90+ off the bump.
Who's the best player you have played against?
Tripp: Matt Vernon
Travis: TJ McDonald is the best player that I have played against. It seems like he is always 3-4 with a couple of doubles and he is throwing low 90’s off the mound.
What are your hobbies outside of baseball?
Tripp: My hobbies outside of baseball are golf. I really like to do anything competitive and hanging out with friends.
Travis: My hobbies outside of baseball are I play in a YMCA basketball league and love to compete at anything, from Ping-Pong to golf.
In one word describe the other person.
What's your favorite movie?
Tripp: Trouble with the Curve
Travis: The Dark Knight Rises
What's your favorite book?
Tripp: Holy Bible
Travis: Ender’s Game
What's your favorite television show?
Tripp: Breaking Bad
What is one thing most people don't know about the other, that you know?
Tripp: Travis likes to watch Pretty Little Liars.
Travis: Tripp eats the same thing every single day for lunch. Ham and cheese on white, crackers with peanut butter, Pringles, a chewy bar, and drinks a bottle water.
Impact Baseball would like to thank Tripp and Travis for their "Under The Gun" interview. Best of luck to you and the Titans this season.
Please stay tuned for a exclusive "Up Close" interview this afternoon with Mr. Lee Land.