Coaches Corner: Brian Hucks

Brian Hucks is a 1991 graduate of Lexington High School. While at Lexington, he was a four-year letterman in baseball and a three-year letterman in football. Hucks attended the University of South Carolina after stops at Anderson Junior College and Campbell University. He was a three-year letterman in baseball at USC as well as a tri-captain his senior year. Hucks graduated from USC in 1996 with a B.S. degree in physical education. He was drafted in the 31st round of the Major League Baseball draft by the Cincinnati Reds where he played in the minor league system through 1997.

Coach Hucks is beginning his seventh season as head coach at Brookland-Cayce High school. His overall record at B-C is 146-61. He has produced region champions in 2000, 2002 and 2005. His 2000 team captured the AAA state championship in his first year as a head coach.  Coach Hucks was named region coach of the year in 2000, 2002, 2005 and 2006; AAA state coach of the year in 2000. In Coach Hucks’ seven years at Brookland-Cayce, he has had 21 players sign athletic grant-in-aids to further their baseball career collegiately. Ten of his players have been selected to play in the North/South All-Star game.

Coach Hucks is married to the former Stephanie Smith of Pickens, SC. They have one daughter Caroline who is three.

DP-How many years have you been in coaching?

BH-Nine years

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

BH-The most rewarding thing about being a coach is when you see that look in a player’s eye when he “figures it out.” It can be very frustrating because you may have to explain something fifteen different ways before it clicks with that player. But when it does, that player gives you a look that only a coach or a teacher can understand. That is why we do what we do!

DP-What does the term “coach” mean to you?

BH-We see most of our players more often than their parents. It is a tremendous responsibility that goes along with the term “coach” because often times the young people that we are involved with listen to their coach more than they would their own parents. Teaching life lessons, responsibility and accountability to others, respect for the game and the way it is played, to love each other and play for one another, to learn how to play the game the way it is meant to be played with respect for all those who have played before and after us, to learn how to win and handle defeat, and to commit yourself to the absolute best player that you can be, is what a “coach” teaches.

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

BH-I believe what is most frustrating for coaches is the under appreciation of the people behind the fence for the type of commitment and sacrifice it takes to do the job that we do if it is done right. I got home last night at 10:45 from a JV game and my three-year old ran downstairs to see me and tell me how much she missed me. She waited up because she wanted to see me before she went to bed. Those are the things that break my heart. All the time spent away from my wife and daughter when the complaints and negative remarks are made.

DP-What is your definition of a “student-athlete?”

BH-Well our athletes have to understand that time management is one of the most important things that they will need to learn. Their academic progress will always come first. I keep a folder on every player in my program with every progress report and report card. They know they are accountable to me if their grades aren’t where they should be.

DP-We always hear how players have superstitions, I know coaches do too. Do you have anything interesting?

BH-I am not very superstitious my nature. I believe that if an athlete truly has confidence in themselves and their ability that they will not need to believe in outside forces. With that being said, if I have a player that thinks that are playing good because of the undershirt that they are wearing or what they eat before the game, so be it! As long as they produce!

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

BH-Winning the state championship in my first year as a head coach. We were down 11–2 in the second inning of Game 3 in the state championship series and battled back to win. What an unbelievable game to be involved with.

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

BH-My high school coach Tommy Williams. He taught me so much as a player, and then when I got into coaching, I was able to work with him in the summer and learned so much from the intricacies of the game to how to handle off the field situations. He is always one step ahead of me and I am thrilled that he will be back in a uniform next year at Batesburg-Leesville.

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

BH-I don’t know how to rank a top three, but Taylor Harbin from Travelers Rest, Brad Chalk, Andrew Crisp, Adam Crisp and Marc Young from Riverside, Kinard and Kimard Egleton from Wilson, Zane Petty from Socastee, DeAngelo Mack and Brandon Waring from Airport are definitely on that list!

DP-Who do you think are the top three players in your area right now?

BH-Hard to say because it is still early and I haven’t seen a lot of players. I think some of my players, Derrick Raybon and Adam Westmorland, have a chance to be tremendous pitchers. Alex Lee and Richard Mounce of Blythewood are very talented players.

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

BH-I think my teammates are what I miss most about being a player. Good teammates are those guys that you want in a bunker with you when you are going to war. There is something about baseball players that are different than any other sport. There is a bond that develops when guys spend so much time together. Baseball is a game with more failure than any other sport and teammates are invaluable in helping each other deal the tough times and celebrating the good times.

DP-What do you see as the biggest difference you in high-school aged players today versus ten years ago?

BH-There are a lot more distractions in today’s teens. I think it is much harder for players to focus on their careers rather than all the other things they can get involved with. There is also a lot more specialization in today’s athlete compared to ten years ago. Many players are playing year round now starting at earlier ages. When I was coming up you played the sport that was in season. I know of 10 and 11-year olds that are playing 100–150 games a year. There are also a lot more opportunities available to players now to be seen and develop their abilities than ever before.

DP-We often hear about the “politics” that surround high school baseball. What is your philosophy on this subject and on dealing with the parents of your players?

BH-When I hear someone say politics, all that tells me is that there son is not as good as the player playing in front of them. When I put a lineup together, the only thing I am concerned with is putting the best 9 or 10 guys together that will give me the best chance to win on that given day. How much money someone makes or my relationship with a player’s family is irrelevant. 

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

BH-Probably the three that meant the most were being a captain my senior year at USC, getting the Irby Raines Award given the most inspirational player at USC, and getting drafted by the Reds.

DP-What is your greatest high school thrill?

BH-Playing for the state championship my senior year. Would have been a lot better had we won, but we probably lost to one of the best high teams ever in the 1991 Lancaster team that had Pep Harris, John Barnes, Ceano Truesdale, G.G. Harris, Greg Rushing, Tony Cloud, etc.

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

BH-Without a doubt the birth of my daughter Caroline and everyday after.

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

BH-I have played against a lot of great players. I think Kris Benson and Billy Koch would definitely be on that list. David Eckstein from Florida was a great player. Todd Helton at Tennessee.

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

BH-Probably what everybody says, but my parents have been a tremendous influence on my life. There were only three games as a player at USC that they missed and they were at Arkansas. They made so many sacrifices for me to achieve the things I have done in my life. My mother still never misses a game that I coach in, and my dad coaches with me, so they continue to be an important part of my life.

DP-Who is your favorite athlete (non-baseball)?

BH-Tough question. I love to watch Tiger (Woods), Ernie (Els), and Phil (Mickelson) play golf. I have become a big fan of J.J. Redick in basketball. I love to watch Brian Urlacher hit people in football.

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

BH-Probably Roger Clemens. I love his approach. He is going to come right at you and it doesn’t matter who you are. He is a tremendous competitor and has done it consistently throughout his career. I also was a big Texas college baseball fan growing up. 

DP-Who is your favorite MLB team?


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


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

BH-College football

DP-What are some of your hobbies?

BH-I love playing golf. Not very good at it, but I love to play.

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

BH-I love to cook, but they can probably tell that about me by looking at me.

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

BH-Shoeless Joe (Jackson) to find out the real story. Lee Harvey Oswald to find out he truth. Jackie Robinson for a lesson in resiliency.

DP-Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

BH-Probably still coaching the greatest game in the world.

DP-Your thoughts on what Diamond Prospects can do for kids in South Carolina?

BH-I think anything that helps to expose our players is a great thing as long as it is done the right way. One of the things I take a lot of pride in as a coach is helping my players advance to college and continue their careers. 

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

BH-Never say what if! You can accomplish more than you ever think you are capable of. I went from a walk-on at USC to a captain by my senior year and got drafted by the Reds. If you want something bad enough and are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve it, you will never wonder what would have happened if you would have made a commitment to excellence. Never settle and make the most of everyday!

DP-Thanks for providing some interesting stories and in-depth answers. Good luck to your Bearcats in 2007.