Interviews with coaches (13)
Gary Picone took over as head baseball coach at Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Id. last September, replacing Hall of Fame coach Ed Cheff, who had been the head coach there for 34 years.
Picone (Trail, BC) moves into one of the most prestigious jobs in college ball. Lewis-Clark State has won 16 NAIA national championships, and they have sent 14 players to the majors, including Keith Foulke of the Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox, and Oakland A’s, and Marvin Benard of the San Francisco Giants.
Picone served a remarkably long apprenticeship for the job. He was the athletic director for four years prior to taking on the head coach job, and served another stint as AD previously. He was heavily involved in the planning and project approval process for L-C State’s activity center, a facility that many Division I schools would envy. Although L-C State is known primarily for baseball, they have had strong men’s and women’s basketball and women’s volleyball programs for many years.
After participating in Trail’s local baseball programs as a teenager, he went to Bellevue Community College as an outfielder. He transferred to L-C State, and played there for three years. He was good enough to be invited by coach Wayne Norton (Port Moody, BC) to play for the Canadian entry in the Baseball World Cup in Nicaragua in 1973.
Woody Hunt is getting ready for is 30th season as Head Coach of the NAIA Defending Champion Cumberland Bulldogs.
Bob Broughton, courtesyrunner.com: First, congratulations on being named NAIA Coach of the Year. The Bulldogs were also named Amateur Team of the Year by the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Is Cumberland starting to get a higher profile in Middle Tennessee?
Woody Hunt: Well, this year has done a lot for that. We’ve been successful in the past, but this year has really been over the top. We’ve had a lot of publicity and a lot of awards and this year has really given us more of a profile in the Middle Tennessee area, which is difficult with two professional sports teams as well as all of the colleges and universities in the area.
BB: Most of the people who will read this have never been to Lebanon. What do you tell potential recruits about Lebanon and the Cumberland campus? And about Cumberland's academic offerings?
WH: I tell prospective student-athletes that we are a Liberal Arts university and you have some choices with regards to your major. We sell the Nashville area as much as we do Lebanon because we are so close. Nashville is a great city and Middle Tennessee is a great area. You get the laid-back atmosphere of a small town with Lebanon but also the big city with Nashville. With regards to our campus, it’s a small college campus with a lot of attention. I tell them that it’s not for everybody. If you like a small university with personal attention and a good baseball program, then this is the place for you.
I also sell our facilities, which are very good. That goes a long way in our recruiting process. The internet has done a lot for that because prospective student-athletes can go online and look at the pictures of our facilities – the field and grandstand and press box as well as the locker room and indoor hitting facility that we have. That’s been a huge asset for us in recruiting.
Nathan Blackwood is going into his seventh season as Head Coach of the defending NAIA Champion Lubbock Christian Chaparrals. His career record is 281-89. He played for the Chaparrals as an undergraduate, and also coached at Harding University.
Bob Broughton, The College Baseball Blog: The defending NAIA champion is someone other than Lewis-Clark State this year. Has this idea caught on in Lubbock yet?
Nathan Blackwood, Lubbock Christian: I think so. The Lubbock community has always been extremely supportive of LCU Baseball and has really done a good job of welcoming and recognizing these student athletes. This is a baseball town and has been for a long time. The people here can really appreciate an accomplishment like this.
CBB: You sent three players to pro ball this year, Rene Garcia (White Sox), Will Stramp (Reds), and Jakob Cunningham (independent league Shreveport-Bossier Captains). How are they doing?
NB: All three are doing really well. Will and Rene got off to slow starts, but came around better towards the end. Jakob started and finished well and was selected to the league all-star game. He is currently back in Lubbock finishing up his degree, but will return towards the end of next spring.
Interview with Lee University Flames Head Coach Mark Brew, at the NAIA Baseball National Championship in Lewiston, ID:
Bob Broughton: The fans here just got to see a pretty good ball game between Lee and Fresno Pacific.
Mark Brew: That was a great game. That’s what happens in the losers’ bracket, when you get two teams fighting for their lives, it gets exciting, the drama and things like that. Both teams played extremely well. Some big pitches, some big hits. [Chris] Warters got a big hit. He’s a senior All-American, and you sort of expect him to do those things. Javier Lopez was good on the mound, at the end, he’s also a senior All-American, and in the end, we had the right guys in the right positions. Also, Trey Burstrom, a junior second baseman, had a big, big double. He’s a nine-hole hitter, and he sort of got us going.
Terry Puhl, Field Manager of Canada’s entry in the 2008 Olympics, was a Major League outfielder for 15 seasons with the Houston Astros and the Kansas City Royals. He was a National League All Star in 1978 and played in the 1980 National League Championship Series vs. Philadelphia, setting a then-NLCS record with a .526 batting average. He holds the Major League record for career fielding percentage (.993).
Puhl’s day job is Coach of the University of Houston-Victoria Jaguars, an NAIA program entering its second year. He gave this interview on his way home from Beijing.
Bob Broughton, The College Baseball Blog: Do you think that baseball should be an Olympic sport?
Terry Puhl, Houston-Victoria: Yes; however, emphasis must be put on two areas. First, the qualifying structure must be as good as what was used for 2008. That makes sure the best countries are there. Secondly, MLB must be a part of the baseball planning going forward. Getting the “best” players in the world to the Games is a priority with the IOC.