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Coaches Corner: Grant Rembert - USC Upstate

rembertgrant-head09.jpgCoaches Corner - Grant Rembert, USC Upstate: Spartan assistant coach Grant Rembert has quickly emerged as a quality position coach that is not immune to spending plenty of time on the road in search of future talent. Rembert was a fierce competitor on the field, nothing has changed as he has transitioned his focus to building a program and his resume:  

DP-How many years have you been in coaching? What got you into the business?

This is my 3rd year. I realized coaching is what I wanted to do my senior year of college. I had to take a medical redshirt due to an early season injury. For the first time I had to sit back and really watch the game. It was a different perspective that I really appreciated. I followed Coach Kennedy and Coach Starbuck around the whole year picking their brain and watching what they did. My injury turned out to be a blessing in disguise and set up my career.

DP-What is the most rewarding thing about being a baseball coach? 

The most rewarding aspect of coaching is watching a young person grow, mature, and hopefully reach their potential over 4 years. It is special when they buy into your program and apply it and as a result, reach their potential academically and athletically. 

DP-What does the term "coach" mean to you? 

Being a coach encompasses a lot of things. Being a coach is being a mentor, leader, motivator, teacher, and sometimes a dictator depending on the situation. It is important that a coach can take his knowledge and experiences and relate it to the athlete, so they become better people and players. 

DP-What is something you wish everyone knew about your profession? 

I wish everyone understood the amount of time spent that is not coaching. On the field coaching is only about 10% of the job at the Division I level. There is so much time spent RECRUITING, lifting weights, conditioning, dealing with academics, doing laundry, working on the field, setting up trips, and doing scouting reports. All of this together is what gets us up at 5:00 AM and at home around 7:00 PM or later. I wouldn't trade it for anything. 

DP-We all know there is very little money in getting started in coaching at the college level yet the time involved is mind-boggling, why did you do it?

I don't care about the money. All I need is enough to get by. I coach because I want to make a difference in lives. I see baseball as the best life tool. I want to see student-athletes receive their degree and achieve their goals knowing my experiences, knowledge, and leadership helped them along the way. I got into this business to make a difference, not to become rich. 

DP-How do you balance the time demands of coaching and your personal life?

Honestly, I haven't quite figured that one out. I have a lot to learn about this. I know it will become easier the longer I coach.

DP-When you hear the expression "old school baseball", what does that phrase mean to you? 

That may be my favorite phrase. That is a phrase that defines players who played the game hard, smart, injured, hurt, and with passion. Nothing got in the way of winning. The phrase describes a player who literally left every ounce of energy on the field. 

DP-What is the definition of a "student-athlete"? 

Student first and athlete second, but a close second. I tell recruits academics are 1a. and baseball is a close 1b. Those are the only two priorities for your next 4 years. High school players have to understand that programs are investing a lot of money and resources in you over a span of 4 years. This can have a residual effect if you struggle in school. For example, you can hurt a coaches APR, which in the long run can eliminate scholarships if it gets too low. No one wants to be a bad investment, so remember that you are choosing to become a student-athlete and there is a lot of responsibility with that title. You can have a social life only if it doesn't effect reaching your potential on and off the field. The athletes that buy into this are the ones that are successful in the classroom and on the field. In return for doing this, these are the student-athletes that have the most rewarding and fulfilling college experience. 

DP-What is your most memorable experience as a baseball coach? 

Winning the Southern Conference Championship and Southern Conference Tournament Championship. That was a group of guys that really believed in what was being taught and strived for the same goal. 

DP-Who has made the greatest impression on you as a baseball coach and why? 

Mike Kennedy, I had the opportunity to play for him 3 years and coach under him 1 year. He is a great competitor, motivator, and teacher. He just knows how to win. Greg Starbuck who has basically taken me under his wing for the past 5 years. He has taught me a lot about recruiting and teaching the game. 

DP-Who are the best three players you have coached against? 

Dustin Ackley-UNC, Rex Brothers-Lipscomb, Chris Sale-Florida Gulf Coast

DP-What does it mean to be a good teammate and is that important? 

Absolutely it is important. A good teammate is someone who you can count on every day. You know this person will work hard in every aspect of the game and always be there when called upon. 

DP-Do you have any superstitions? If so, what?

Yes, I do have superstitions. My big one is I can't ever let anyone know of my superstitions. 

DP-What do you see as the biggest difference in high school-aged players today versus when you played? 

When I played there wasn't as much specialization going on. Everyone played more than one sport and as a result they were better athletes (not necessarily better baseball players) and they had a different mindset. They were more competitive; team oriented, and hated to lose. Generally speaking, today, kid's number one priority is to showcase their talent and get themselves to the next level. They lose that competitive edge in the process. Today, kid's mindset is geared more toward individuality rather than team-oriented. 

DP-Now switching gears, think back to your days as a baseball player, please list any notable accolades: 

(High School) 2 Time All-State, 3 Time All Conference, East West All-Star, North South All-Star, (College) Freshman All-American, Big South All-Tournament Team, Big South All-Conference, Southern Conference All-Conference, NCWBA National Player of the Week, Southern Conference All-Media Team, 2006 Southern Conference Champions, 2006 Frontier League Champions

DP-What is your greatest high school thrill?

Winning the 1999 State Championship my sophomore year. My oldest brother, Fore, was the coach, my older brother, Aaron, was an All-State pitcher, and my younger brother, J.R., was the starting rightfielder. It was very special for all of us to be apart of such an accomplishment.

DP-What is your greatest thrill, or two, beyond high school?

Playing in the 2006 regional against Clemson. We beat Mississippi State the first day and Clemson beat UNC-A. Clemson was ranked number 1 in the nation and they came out and played like it. That atmosphere and competitive level is why I played Division I baseball.

DP-Who were the three best players you played against? 

Khalil Greene- Clemson, Brett Gardner- CofC, Dustin Pedroia- Team USA

DP-Who has made the greatest impression on you as a person and why? 

My dad. My dad was a long time high school coach and teacher. From the beginning he made us realize how important our education was. He instilled many values in me from the beginning. He made us realize how important working hard is. He never pushed us to play sports, lift weights, or practice. He had all the equipment and knowledge there for us and he left it up to us to put it to use.

DP-What MLB feat in history do you wish you'd been inside the stadium to witness and why? 

Have to be the last game at Old Yankee Stadium. There were so many great players inside the stadium and the history involved is something I wish I could have been a part of.

DP-Who is you favorite athlete outside of baseball?

Michael Jordan. Simply, because he is the greatest competitor of all-time. The man hated and refused to lose. 

DP-Who is your favorite MLB pitcher and position player to watch and why? 

Albert Pujols is my favorite hitter to watch. He has a great approach every time is steps up to the plate and as a result he has quality AB after quality AB. It fascinates me how efficient and consistent his swing is. If the pitcher makes a mistake, he will make him pay. Roy Halladay is my favorite pitcher. The guy goes after hitters and just competes. You have to appreciate that as a hitter. 

DP-Who is your favorite MLB team? 

Atlanta Braves

DP-What is your favorite sport to play other than baseball? 

Football and basketball.  I love them both. My dad coached all three at the high school level, so my brothers and I grew up appreciating all sports.   

DP-What is your favorite sport to watch other than baseball? 

Football, I have a lot of respect for the coaches and players. The demand they put their body through and the amount of time they spend preparing for the game is unbelievable. 

DP-What are some of your hobbies? 

I enjoy lifting weights, running, fishing, reading, and hiking in the mountains. I like to play pickup basketball games. Anything to stay competitive. 

DP-What is your favorite movie?

Gladiator

DP-What is your favorite meal?

Prime rib with baked potato

DP-What is something people don't know about you? 

I love history

DP-If you could have dinner with three people in history, who would they be and why?     

Lou Gehrig- He was an old school player. He played every day and produced whether he was injured, hurt, sick, or healthy. How could you not want to have dinner with a man whose nickname was "The Iron Horse"? Andrew Jackson- He was an American Hero on the battlefield and in politics. He was truly a President for the people. His nickname was "Old Hickory" because of his toughness. He literally was a self-made man. He is the definition of the American Dream. It amazes me he was able to survive all those battle wounds, duels, and an assassination attempts. Douglas MacArthur- He fought in 3 major wars and won the Medal of Honor. He graduated top of his class from West Point. He is one of the greatest leaders of all-time and I would love to pick his brain on courage, leadership and motivation. 

DP-Where do you see yourself in ten years? 

Head Coach at a Division I school.

DP-Give a high school player who is reading this article one piece of advice. 

Before you get to college, make sure you understand what it means to be a student-athlete. You have to work hard in school, you have to lift weights and condition, and you have to hit, throw, and practice every day. Understand that if you go about your business the right way every day, then the reward in the end, will be great.

DP-Your playing career continues to be a beacon of how to go about things in the proper manner. Good luck to you in 2010 and in your professional endeavor!