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...
Name: Eric Filipek
T.C. Roberson Head Baseball Coach
Years at T.C. Roberson: 3rd Year
Location: Skyland, NC (Asheville)
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?
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!!