Coastal Carolina has enjoyed a high level of success with Kevin Schnall in a Chanticleer uniform, first as a player and over the past eight years as an assistant coach. Schnall is now the recruiting coordinator at Coastal and spent some time this week for DP’s readers to know him better, both as a coach and a person.
DP-How many years have you been in coaching? What got you into the business?
KS-It’s hard to believe, but I just finished my 8th season coaching at Coastal Carolina University. My father was a coach and it was the only thing I new. I retired from professional ball in the summer of 2000 to return to Coastal Carolina to finish my degree and at the same time begin my career. The day I retired from playing was the toughest decision of my life but when I reflect back it was the best decision of my life.
DP-What is the most rewarding thing about being a baseball coach?
KS-The most rewarding part of this job is the relationships that are built. I truly believe they begin in the recruiting process and turn into a lifetime. Watching our players grow physically and mentally in such a short period of time is so amazing. I feel like I live vicariously through our players. When they succeed it is the most gratifying feeling, a feeling that is indescribable.
DP-What does the term "coach" mean to you?
KS- ‘Coach’ to me is a person who teaches, motivates and leads by example. A coach is someone who can develop a culture where their players think they are capable of doing anything. This is a game of adversity, a game in which you fail, a "true" coach understands and remembers that!
DP-What is something you wish everyone knew about your profession?
KS-That it is a full-time job and the only job I have.
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?
KS-Again, growing up a coaches son, it’s all I new. I wouldn’t have been able to do it if my parents weren’t as supportive as they were. I’m very fortunate!
DP-Your father used to be a coach in the NFL, how did that make your childhood different?
KS-First and foremost, my mother was the most relentless and tireless worker I have ever seen! The older I get the more I realize what my father went through, the number of hours coaching required, and how much he sacrificed for our family. Growing up in locker rooms was a tremendous experience and different from most kids my age, but ultimately it was tough to watch my mothers’ struggles.
DP-You coach at your alma mater, tell us what that means to you.
KS-I’m forever indebted for the opportunity Coach Gilmore gave me as a player and then as a coach. I’ve been at Coastal Carolina for a third of my life; this is a very special place to me. There is no other Division I jersey I ever put on…and I hope one day, I can say it is the only Division I jersey I EVER put on.
DP-When you hear the expression "old school baseball", what does that phrase mean to you?
KS-Truthfully, it means nothing to me! It’s a phrase that makes me cringe because too many coaches use it as an alibi. For example, you hear coaches say: "These kids just aren’t as tough as they used to be!"… I don’t buy it! Today’s highly successful coaches DEMAND their players play hard, which is exactly what my dad preached no matter whether it was in the NFL or on Little League ball fields.
DP-What is the definition of a "student-athlete"?
KS-A "student-athlete’ is someone who values and understands the importance of competing in the classroom just as hard as on the field.
DP-What is your most memorable experience as a baseball coach?
KS-There are so many great memories in my eight years of coaching but 2004’s Senior Day still is the most special to me. That group of seniors put Coastal’s program on the national map… 4 straight Big South Championships; 4 straight NCAA Regional appearances; 4 straight 40 + win seasons.
DP-Who has made greatest impression on you as a baseball coach and why?
KS-My dad was the best coach I ever had, the best coach I ever seen. He coached with the most infectious energy…
DP-Who are the best three players you have ever coached against?
KS-Jeff Keppinger – Georgia, Khalil Greene – Clemson, Kevin Slowey – Winthrop
DP-What does it mean to be a good teammate and is that important?
KS-A good teammate is someone who always puts team ahead of self. In order to have a successful team, players must understand their roles and no one person is more important than the team.
DP-What is your greatest high school thrill?
KS-Catching my best friends no-hitter in a Mercer County Championship game.
DP-What is your greatest thrill, or two, beyond high school?
KS-My senior season in 1999 we won 45 games…this team refused to lose! It was such a pleasure to be apart of that dedicated group which set in motion the nationally recognized baseball program Coastal has today.
DP-Who are the three best players you played against?
KS-Francisco Rodriquez – Anaheim Angles, Hank Blalock – Texas Rangers, Bill Hall – Milwaukee Brewers
DP-Who has made the greatest impression on you as a person and why?
KS-A lot of people have made great impressions on me but the person I have the most admiration for is my brother, Tim. He showed me the importance of working smart and attention to details.
DP-Who is your favorite athlete outside of baseball?
DP-Who is your favorite MLB pitcher and position player, and why?
KS-Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter are both fearless competitors and effective leaders. They always appear to maintain a calm demeanor in pressure situations.
DP-Who is your favorite MLB team?
DP-What is your favorite sport to watch other than baseball?
DP-What are some of your hobbies?
KS-I really don’t have a single hobby. I look at my job as also my hobby.
DP-What is something people don’t know about you?
KS-I was born in Easton, PA; the home of Lafayette College and Larry Holmes
DP-Where do you see yourself in ten years?
KS-Ten years from now, I hope to still be coaching at Coastal Carolina.
DP-What is your opinion on the new rules that the NCAA recently adopted in regards to roster limitations, the APR, and the 25% scholarship rule?
KS-I like them because it forces you to fully evaluate each prospect because mistakes will hurt you! In the past, schools would bring in big classes and mistakes would be swept under the carpet.
DP-Tell us something about Coastal Carolina:
KS-2001-2008 Coastal Carolina has the sixth best winning percentage (.703) in the COUNTRY. Coastal Carolina is the ONLY University in the state of South Carolina to host an NCAA Regional and win 50 games the past 2 seasons.
DP- Give a high school player who is reading this article one piece of advice:
KS-The best advice I ever received – "Don’t mistake activity for achievement" – which made perfect sense to me. Basically what it implies is: you can’t get stronger standing around in the weight room…Just because you’re doing something, doesn’t mean you’re getting anything out of it.
DP-Thanks a ton for your insight on your job and baseball in general. Good luck in 2009!