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In The Dugout: Eric Filipek
Written by Trey Daly

Impact Baseball traveled to the mountains of North Carolina for this edition of "In The Dugout" with T.C. Roberson Head Coach Eric Filipek. Expectations are high around Asheville this time of year due to T.C. Roberson Rams currently being ranked seventh in the country. Coach Filipek is excited to get his Rams on the diamond and prepare for the 2013 journey...

Eric Filipek
T.C. Roberson Head Baseball Coach
Years at T.C. Roberson: 3rd Year
Location: Skyland, NC (Asheville)
Classification: 4A

What are your expectations for this coming year?

My expectations are to be in a position to win every time we step on the field. I expect our players to compete at an extremely high level to win every pitch in every inning of every game. I expect our players to respect every aspect of our journey, to be accountable on and off the field, to understand the mission of our program, and to get back on their feet when they get knocked down.  

Being a top team in the state and ranked number seven in the nation. How do you keep your team grounded with the high ranking?

The game of baseball will do that on its own. Our players are educated enough about the game to realize that it will humble them very quickly if they cheat it. This particular team hasn’t won a thing. They know that!! They know what we achieve will solely depend on how committed they are to working together. I don’t believe this group wants being in any pre-season ranking to be the highlight of their 2013 season.

What are the strengths of your club?

The strength of our club is our pitching depth. Innings on the mound will be tough to come by. Our pitchers are well aware that the smallest intangible separates our #1 from our #6. It will be a battle for the ball each and every week.

You guys are the only North Carolina team playing in the National Invitational Tournament in Cary at the USA Complex. That tournament has the nation’s best teams coming in, what are your thoughts on being selected for that?

It’s great to think about the experience this particular team will have at this event. I believe it will be a week they will talk to their grandkids about one day. I hope our guys understand that this is a chance of a lifetime for a high school baseball player. We plan to represent our school, our community, and our state in a positive manner. We aren’t heading to Cary at the end of March to play in the consolation games after round one.

T.C. Roberson has always been a hot bed for great baseball players, what's the secret up here?

The parents, kids, and community have a passion for the game. No secrets, the kids start at a young age and are relentless. I’d love to say that the coaching is just better here, but I know that it’s all about the players and what they are willing to give up to be great.

How is your roster shaking out for the year? (Seniors, Junior, etc)

I am not sure; our tryouts will end on Friday, February 15th. I don’t like to discuss team personnel before our team is selected. I would imagine we’ll have a good mix of seniors and juniors, with an occasional sophomore that can contribute. It is very rare for any freshman to have any impact in our program.

What's your favorite hitting drill?

I like to set up a Tee on home plate and ask hitters to hit a line-drive that can reach the opposite field outfield grass with some backspin. You’d be amazed how many high school players and even many college hitters that will struggle with this.

What's your favorite infield drill?

I guess a favorite is something that you do the most. That would have to be our “Absolutes”. It is a series of short hops that our infielders perform regularly from different positions such as forehand, backhand, 1-hand, 2-hand, no-feet, with feet, etc. They partner up and get about ten feet apart and perform ten drills in ten minutes. Occasionally, they’ll finish with a game of Infielder Hockey where each fielder will try to score the ball between the legs of their partner while the partner stays low with their glove out being a goalie with good hands. The whole concept of “Absolutes” was picked up from a time when I had the pleasure of learning as an assistant from Gary Gilmore at Coastal Carolina. What a coach that man is… positively speaking! 

Do you have any pre-game rituals?

I strive to hit the best possible Catcher’s pop following pre-game infield/outfield that I can. I want to hit a better one than the opposing coach. Last year my record was worse than our overall team record. I can live with that. I want competitive players… the great ones will compete for everything. That is how the good players become great… never satisfied and keep competing.

What's a typical T.C. Roberson practice like?

Structured, competitive, and as our players will tell you… “too much talking by Coach Filly”. I want our players to understand what it takes to succeed at the next level. I try to prepare a practice plan that is similar to what they may see moving forward.  We begin each practice with a theme, quote, or verse that ties in what we are doing or going through as a team. It helps our guys with a vision for that day. All players like to hit, so we traditionally tackle the less attractive stuff early on, such as base running, team defense, etc.

What are your hobbies outside of baseball?

I am blessed to say that baseball is my hobby. It is a struggle to keep it that way at times and there was a time that it was my entire life… but things change and life happens. I strive to not let it outrank my faith, my family/kids, and non-baseball growth of my extended family… the 30+ kids in our program.

I got to ask, as cold as it gets up here.. What happens when it's brutally cold raining/snowing and you guys have to get a practice in?

We practice.

Who's the best player you have seen in North Carolina High School baseball while at T.C. Roberson?

Carlos Rodon in the 1st game of the State Championship series in 2011. His composure and poise on the mound matched his physical ability. His success in college last year is not a big surprise.

Who's the best player you have coached at T.C. Roberson?

The best players I have coached here are those that are unselfish in their efforts and genuine in their care for their teammates and our program. There are many in the past couple of years that measure up.

What should fans expect coming to watch this year’s club?

I told my team the other day… I don’t want people who come to watch us play to walk away saying that we are talented. I want them walking away commenting on how hard we play and compete. If this doesn’t happen, we won’t reach our potential.

Impact Baseball would like to thank Coach Filipek for his "In The Dugout" interview. We would like to wish him and the Rams the best of luck this season!!

Stay tuned tomorrow for more interviews here from Impact Baseball!!

Under The Gun: Gabe Tippett
Written by Trey Daly

Impact Baseball traveled out to The Oakwood School located in Greenville, North Carolina for this edition of "Under The Gun" with Gabe Tippett. Tippett brings alot to the table as a high school baseball player, he is very eager to get this season underway. Gabe is a very versatile player that can play multiple positions on the diamond and is looking to guide the Eagles in his 2013 campaign.

Gabe Tippett
High School: The Oakwood School
Position: INF
Graduation: 2014
College Commitment: Undecided

What has been your main focus on improving from last year?

My main focus has been just being more confident in myself, and executing situations that will put my team in a position to win.

What are your strengths as a baseball player?

I believe my strengths are being aggressive, when I step on the field to compete I go all out. I would also say my mental strength, when I have made a mistake I can just brush it off and move on to the next play or pitch.

What's your mindset in the box?

Jump on the first straight thing I see and square it up, if I get down in the count my mindset is to put the ball in play and let the rest take care of itself.

What are your personal goals for this upcoming season and summer?

My personal goals this year are to be more aggressive on the base paths, use the whole field when I'm at the plate, and make every play that is hit anywhere near me.

What's your most memorable game up to this point of your career?

I'm going to change the question to most memorable games. When the Dirtbags went down to Ft. Myers, Florida this past year it was the best experience of my life. Just being able to play on the big stage with all my teammates and just having fun.

You are a very versatile player that can play many positions. How have you tried to improve this part of your game this off-season?

I've been working on my range to be able to get to hard hit grounders, and my side to side motion so I'm explosive and not late like I have been in the past. I have also been working on my arm strength as much as I possibly can, so I can throw anyone out that hits it to me.

Last week we interviewed your High School Coach (Coach Axel Smith). Describe what he brings to the table from a player's perspective?

Coach Smith brings a variety of different things, he brings tons of knowledge that he has learned over the years, he has a lot of fire and desire to win but to also have fun and play the game right way. Coach Smith also understands how to talk to different players according to how they react to things which is tremendous in my opinion.

What's your favorite hitting drill?

With Coach Smith in the cages we go through different levels of "school", first you have to get 7 out of 10 to move on to the next grade then 5 out of 6, then 3 out of 3, but if you don't get it you have to go to "summer school" and try again. Then it goes to 1 pitch in which you have to hit backside, then you have completed school.

What are your plans this summer?

My plans are to play summer ball again with the Dirtbags and continue to improve and become the best I can be.

What's a typical day like for you?

Right now my day is I get up at 5:15 go workout with my fellow Dirtbag Will Cooke from 6 a.m.-7 a.m., with our personal trainer John Briley. After that I shower, eat, and go to school; once school is over I go to the gym and work on homework till our practice at 6:30. Once my practice is over I go home, eat dinner, shower, do some more homework and do it all over again the next day.

Who's the best player you have played with?

Braxton Davidson (UNC Commit)

Who's the best player you have played against?

Wood Myers (UNC Commit)

Below, I am going to name some names. Tell me in one word, what comes to mind when you hear them?

Braxton Davidson: Bombs
Matt Horkey: Lights-out
Chandler Jenkins: Country
Cole Hart: Cannon
Eric Jenkins: Fast
Ryan Falcon: Jacked
Lee Land: Hilarious
Andy Partin: Knowledgeable

What are your hobbies outside of baseball?

My hobbies outside of baseball are I like to hang out with my friends, play some pick-up basketball and working out.

If you had a chance to go anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I would want to go to Hawaii to Pearl Harbor; I have always been interested in the history behind it and would love to see it and what it is like.

If you could sit down with any professional athlete and ask them a question, who would it be and what would you ask them?

Josh Hamilton- I would ask him what it was like being drafted out of high school, and just what is like as a professional baseball player!

Impact Baseball would like to thank Gabe Tippett for his "Under The Gun" interview. We wish him and the Oakwood Eagles the best of luck this spring...

Stay tuned for another interview coming up this afternoon!!

Under The Gun: Drew Piscorik
Written by Trey Daly

Impact Baseball traveled out to Winterville, North Carolina the home of the South Central Falcons for this edition of "Under The Gun" with Drew Piscorik. Piscorik is a smooth, crisp infielder who is fun to watch get after it on the diamond. The sophomore has high hopes and expectations for the spring season

Name: Drew Piscorik
High School: South Central High School
Position: INF
Graduation: 2015
College Commitment: Uncommitted

What have you been doing this off-season to get you ready for your sophomore campaign? 

I have really been working hard in the weight room on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and also working on speed and agility on Tuesday and Thursday.

Starting out as a freshman on the varsity last year and playing alot this summer, how do you think it has made your game develop from the previous year?
I gained alot of game experience playing against great competition which has made me more mature and given me great confidence in my abilities.

What are your personal goals this season?

I want to do whatever is needed to help my team win and individually play consistently on offense and defense. Personally, I want to strive to hit the ball hard somewhere every at bat and make all the routine plays on defense while occasionally making the Sportscenter top ten play.

What are your strengths as a baseball player?

My strengths defensively is my ability to play any position in the infield. With my experience from last year, offensively I have developed into a gap to gap hitter that can handle the bat and hit it to all fields.

What's the biggest difference in your game from your freshman year to sophomore year? 

My hitting ability is the biggest difference in my game. After seeing varsity pitching all spring and playing against great competition this summer and fall, I am more confident in my ability to hit consistently at this level and look forward to competing this year.

What's your most memorable game up to this point of your young career?

I wouldn't say it was one game, but having the opportunity to play varsity baseball last year with my high school as a freshman was a great experience.

Your dad was a former ACC baseball player (Duke), how has that helped having him as a mentor?

He has taught me how to play the game the right way and knows what it takes to be successful.  He has played at a level that I am trying to get to.

Your father could swing the stick back in his day, what is the approach in the box he tries to teach you?

Work hard on mechanics in the cage, but when it comes to the game, trust your swing and see the baseball and hit it hard. Biggest thing is relax and be aggressive on a good pitch, see it and hit it hard from the inside. My dad can still hit it today.

Do you have any pre-game rituals?

My pre-game rituals are getting in all my pre-game handshakes with my teammates and pre-game prayer.

What's a typical day like for you?

I get up at 6:00 a.m. then head to lift weights after that I go to school. After school is over I go to baseball workout, then do my homework that night and get ready to do it again. 

What's your favorite hitting drill?

It’s got to be front toss. This drill helps me keeps my hands inside the baseball.
Who's the best player you have ever played with?

Cole Hart (N.C. State Commit)

Who's the best player you have played against? 

Adam Pate (UNC Commit)

What's your favorite food?

Steak with loaded baked potato

Who's your favorite college basketball team?


What are your hobbies outside of baseball?

My hobbies outside of baseball are playing basketball, lifting weights and hanging out with friends.

What's one fact most people don't know about Drew Piscorik?

I can dance for a white guy!

Impact Baseball would like to thank Drew Piscorik for his "Under The Gun" interview. We wish him and the Falcons the best of luck this season.

Stay tuned for more interviews later today!!

Up Close: Eric Leary
Written by Trey Daly

Ladies and Gentlemen, do we have a treat for you this afternoon! Impact was fortunate enough to sit down for this edition of "Up Close" with Mr. Eric Leary. Leary is one of the best offensive football minds in the state of North Carolina, he also brings a superior mind to the baseball diamond. Sit back, relax, grab some food and enjoy reading from one of the top "Gurus" of high school sports today in the Tarheel state.

 Eric Leary
Coach Experience:
- working with the Dirtbags last summer (excited about the coming season too)
- Currently coaching Football at White Oak High School (1st year)
- Baseball and Football at Richlands HS (2006-2010)
- Baseball and Football at Southwest Onslow HS (1995-20006)
- Baseball at Wilson Fike HS (1995)
- Baseball with Wilson Post 13 (1993-95)
- Baseball as a Student Assistant at Barton College (1993-94)
- Baseball at Greenfield School in Wilson NC (1992)
How's the off-season been? I know fall is a busy time of year for you coaching high school football at White Oak this year..

Any time you do something new it can be overwhelming.  We have a ways to go right now. But coming onto this staff, we knew that what we were asking of everybody was different from what was before. Changing culture takes time, it’s not a right or wrong thing, it's a then and now thing. This past year was like drinking from a fire hose for everybody. Hopefully we can get better.

Alot of kids in the baseball arena have asked me... Where is Coach Leary? He really helped me this past summer. You seem to have a great way of helping kids grow in the game of baseball. What's your mind set when you try to help a kid grow in the game?

Key word there is "grow." I just want to try to help them get better.  To do that we have to see not only where the players are at, but what they can do. Let's set some realistic expectations and not waste a lot of time working on stuff that can't be done or that will never happen. Teaching in the classroom or coaching on the field is the same deal to me; try to take the kid from where they are to where they want to be. That takes telling the truth and sometimes putting a person in a position different than the way they see it ... you have to want to be coached to get any coaching.
You coached one of the best two way athletes ever in the state of North Carolina, Mr. Kendric Burney. Can you describe what he brought on the diamond and also on the gridiron?

KB was very uncommon for a high school athlete to me.  Some may get guys like that all the time - I haven't.  He was physically gifted, but he also wanted to beat your rear end.  He played so hard. He did things that looking back make me say "wow" today because I don't see people do those things every day. He did things that were never coached, but he was coachable. Whether he was throwing a ball, or hitting a ball, or hitting a ball carrier, he was trying to loosen the laces on it.  Very explosive!!!

You wrote an article here with us called "no my bad". Where did you come up with that?

That article was the result of a friend/mentor encouraging me to submit an article for the ABCA's Coaches Digest in the mid/late 90's. I had been a head coach for a couple of years and noticed the "my bad" phrase being used and over-used by my players to excuse themselves from making a bad play or a moment of failure - almost wanting someone to tell them it's ok, don't worry about it. My point was, and remains, that if we continue to make mistakes and bad plays, it's not ok.  Let's spend less time looking for a hug and get back in there and do better next time. 

Football and Baseball are kind along the same principal being a tough minded individual, whether it’s being on the rubber or throwing a block for a teammate. You know playing baseball; you can get your feelings hurt on the bump not having your best stuff, or on the football field getting laid out. What do you see being the mindset of those kids that are two way players that you have coached in the past?

I love multi-sport guys. I know the idea today is that they could be a lot better at the one if they would specialize and focus on say football or baseball.  But, to me most kids playing sports are not going to play at a next level.  Let's use the field to get ready for all the adversity that will happen in life when the playing days are over.  So enjoy high school and be a part of as much as you can. As for the kid that can play at higher levels, I still prefer it because he can now draw on different experiences to handle those setbacks or challenges that will happen. The baseball player that plays football maybe brings some grit into those tense situations. Or the football player that plays baseball has a different perspective and maybe accentuates his cognitive abilities and decision making skills.

Being a huge college football fan I am, I know you are a big "Wing-T" offensive coordinator. The closest thing I have seen to the offense in the past couple of years was when Arkansas had McFadden and Felix Jones in the backfield. What's your take on the "Wing-T" why don't we see it more in college football? By the way, it's unstoppable on XBOX...

I have coached in several different systems - with a Wing-T type of offense being among them. I love system football. Its how one play puts a variety of defenders in conflict and essentially sets up another play.  It's that chess-match mentality to coaching football that is fun for me.  Like setting up hitters with pitches or running a pick play in baseball.  How can we make similar things look different and different things look the same. For me now, option football is how I like to do that.  We ran the option in some sets with Burney in 2004 & 2005, but since then the flexbone has been the system (like Navy & Georgia Tech). I like it because it not only creates conflict for the defense, but now I am engaging the player to be a prime decision maker. Like when we get our catchers to learn how to call his own game. It takes time and trust. The reward for the player is to be equipped to put themselves and the team in the best position. The reward for me is the process of them "getting it."
These systems (wing-t, flexbone, even Air Raid) all take a commitment and an approach that this is what we are going to do and then to execute it. Very hard to do, but very rewarding. I like that - instead of trying to do so much, let's just get good at something.
Why don't folks do it at higher levels?  Probably the "cool" factor. Running the football can be boring to watch for a lot of fans I guess. Those systems are run-first systems. The "spread" is more exciting. I don't know. Some of those guys are just running Wing-T and flexbone and power plays in the gun. It's all perception.
I know some of these are difficult questions, but you got to understand I rarely get to sit down once in a while with a "Guru" like yourself!! Can you describe how these great coaches continue to have success every year after bringing in new talent? Such as Coach K (Duke), Coach Brad Stevens (Butler), Nick Saban (Alabama) the list could go on...

These guys are the gurus!  I think what makes a coach have the ability to consistently bring players to a level above their peers, is to have a system and to believe in that system.  Not just X's and O's either.  Everything works on paper. It's believing in the way you go about your business and then convincing others to follow you or to even take the lead on the journey. Sometimes that requires you to act like you know what you don't know. How did he know that play would work?  He didn't really.  He hoped it would; and hoping is more than wishing. We can hope when we trust those that we are depending on. Hope is like knowing it eventually will come true.
All of this comes with great sacrifice - there is a cost to it all.  But the ones that do this deal consistently - especially if they show the ability to do it at different places - they are most impressive to me and I think their key is in "selling" their ideas and then commanding the process. Great leaders in anything insure us to know they are putting in just as much effort as we are to be successful.
Let’s move on to some lighter questions, I think...
Who's the best baseball player you have seen in North Carolina over the years?

Maybe shorter answers, but not easier. 

The best?  Hamilton was impressive of course. Some of the guys that came through those Impact Baseball showcases were fun to keep track of as their careers continued.
Tough to say just one ... Maybe the most impactful to me was two guys that played on some American Legion teams I helped with in the 90's.  Steve Salargo and Bobby Cook played to game the way it is supposed to be played. They were both talented and played at higher levels but they were baseball players. Tough, gritty and willing to do anything to help the team win.
Who's the best football player you have seen in North Carolina over the years?

Bunch of "wow" guys here ... Willie Parker (Clinton), T.A. McClendon (Albemarle), Chris Leak (Independence), Mario Williams (Richlands), Kendric Burney (SW Onslow) ... tons of others.
Who's the best North Carolina High School baseball team you ever seen?

I have always enjoyed watching teams coached by Coach Fulghum at Greene Central. Saw some of the New Hanover editions of the 90's too - impressive. 

Who's the best North Carolina High School football team you have ever seen?

Sure there is plenty I haven't seen, but the Clinton Darkhorses of the 1990's and into the 2000's were the real deal. Best I ever coached against was the 1999 High Point Central 2A state champions. Saw the 2001 Independence team beat Laney in the state championship - and I thought that Laney team was one of the best I had seen.
Who are some of North Carolina best High School coaches that coach both sports (football/baseball)? Tough job being involved in both..

Easier question 10-15 years ago!!  Sure plenty still do both, I just don't know as many. A lot of the guys I know have chosen one or the other. I always though Charlie Smith at Havelock was good at both. Battle Holley is good at both - only doing football now. Bottom line, a lot of guys that are good football coaches are/would be good baseball coaches because it's about how they can relate to their kids and the sport they are in is their platform to build that relationship. You could put most successful coaches of either sport into a field they had no experience and with some time to learn the rules and fundamentals, they would be successful again.
Fun Facts:

Favorite Food: 

All of it. Especially the stuff I shouldn't eat. Probably like seafood best -got to be near the coast though.
Favorite Movie: 

Either Bull Durham or Young Guns

Favorite Television Show: 

Nothing in particular. Will watch a show and enjoy it but don't have any favorites anymore. Usually a ballgame or just a flipper.

Favorite Place to Eat: 

Anywhere Andy Partin is buying.

Favorite Hobby: 

Spending time and doing stuff with my family.  Use to hunt and fish a lot - still enjoy it. I try to keep the grass cut. I like going to ballgames.

Favorite College Football team: 

All of them! Love college football! Just want to watch the best game every week.

Favorite MLB team: 

Orioles. No one else is close!!

Favorite College Football Coach: 

I appreciate guys like Paul Johnson and Mike Leach.  I like Urban Meyer, Les Miles. They all seem to be themselves and not apologize for it. Sure some more could go on that list.

Favorite Sport Baseball or Football: (Won't make you answer that one!)

Yeah, to my own detriment I have never really made that choice.  Maybe I'll figure it out one day.

Impact Baseball would like to thank Mr. Eric Leary for his "Up Close" interview today! 

Check back tomorrow for more interviews and news here from Impact Baseball!!

Up Close: Andy Partin
Written by Trey Daly

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.

Andy Partin
Coaching Experience:
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...

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