Coaches Corner: Matt Williams – Spartanburg Methodist College

williamsmatt-head09.jpgCoaches Corner – Matt Williams, Spartanburg Methodist College: Growing up the son of a coach, a young left-hander played the game but kept his ears open along the way and has turned into a fine coach in his own right as the recruiting coordinator for the Pioneers. He took some time for DP to let baseball viewers get to know him better.

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

MW-I have been at Spartanburg Methodist for 5 years, I coached Spartanburg American Legion for 4 summers, Diamond Devils for 1 summer, helped my dad at Lancaster High School 1 year, and the Columbia Blowfish for half of this past summer. The summer after my sophomore year at SMC Coach Wallace asked me if I wanted to be the pitching coach for the legion team.

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

MW-Watching a pitcher go out and have success after we have worked on something. Also, after one of our guys commits to a four-year school or gets the opportunity to play pro ball after the hard work they have put in.

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

MW-It means to be able to relate something to one of your players and for them to go out and execute what you have taught them.

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

MW-The amount of time that is put into each day. 

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

MW-I love being around the game and helping teach the game to others. I grew up at the baseball field so for me, I do not know what else I would have done. Not a lot of people go to work and enjoy what they do.

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

MW-I make time for my personal life when I get the chance.

DP-Why is the JUCO route a good option for a high school player?

MW-1) Game experience- this cannot be replaced by sitting on the bench early in your college career. Juco’s have to rely on freshman and sophomores to contribute right away whereas at the four-year schools you may have to wait on an older guy to graduate. 2) It allows you the chance to be drafted every year where if you go to a four-school you have to wait until your junior year or when you are 21 years old.

DP-Take a few lines to sell Spartanburg Methodist to a prep recruit:

MW-SMC is totally different than all of the other two-year schools around. We offer guys a true college experience in which they will live on campus, eat in the café, and participate in campus life, all wihile getting an education and playing baseball. SMC will give you a chance to play for a NATIONAL TITLE and one of the best coaches in the country in Tim Wallace.

DP-How have the NCAA recruiting rule changes helped or hurt JUCO’s?

MW-I think it has helped SMC. We have also been able to get good players in the past but with the rule changes it has given us the opportunity to pick up some guys that may have been offered very little aid to a four-year institution.

DP-Your dad coaches at a competing Region X program. Describe what its like to see your father in an opposing dugout and how competitive are your conversations when wearing different uniforms?

MW-At first it was different because we went to Lancaster to play, I was sitting in the visiting dugout (which I had never done), and we had always competed for the same things but once the game started it was all about SMC getting the win. The conversations for me are always fun because right now we hold the series lead at 4-0.

DP-Two years ago your dad and grandmother became ill at the same time and you lost her. What was that experience like and how has that changed your life?

MW-It was a very unfortunate situation for both of them to be in the hospital at the same time and for her to pass away. He was in ICU and she was in a regular room but he knew she had been struggling for some time. When she did pass away, we really didn’t know what to do because he is in ICU and we didn’t want to upset him with the news and things turn bad for him also. My mom and I spoke with the doctors for a while and they told us it would be okay to tell him, then my mom decides she does not want to tell him, so I had to convince her that if the doctor says it is okay then we should let him know. So we went up to his room to tell him and he takes it as well as he could because he knew she was better off and she would reunite with my grandfather. Unfortunately, he did not get to attend her funeral but he received his fair share of visitors at the hospital. Luckily after about two weeks at the hospital he was released and seems to be doing well. For me this definitely showed me to value every minute you get to spend with family because you just never know when something may happen.
DP-Your mother is currently fighting cancer. How is she doing and what has her battle been like for you?

MW-My mom was diagnosed with indiamentral cancer in June. She had her uterus removed, has been through chemotherapy and radiation treatments and they feel like they have cured her of cancer. At first it was very tough for her because just like every mother, she wanted to look good and be able to walk down the isle for my brothers wedding. She goes back to the doctor in January for her last check-up. She seems to be getting along well now but occasionally she still gets tired from the treatments she had. For me this, once again, showed me that when I get a chance to spend time with family it is very valuable.

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

MW-It means to play the game hard and hustle everywhere you go on the field. I am very fortunate in that I get to watch what I consider old school baseball everyday in Marty Gantt.

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

MW-The most memorable experience would have to the 2007 team that finished 3rd in the country. We had a bunch of guys on that team that would just never quit. We had to come through the loser’s bracket of our region tourney and we just had a guy after guy step up and do big things.

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

MW-I would have to say my dad and Tim Wallace. My dad because he starting teaching me the game at a young age and gave me every opportunity to get better from my delivery to my hitting to me just going to camps with him. Tim Wallace because he has shown me that baseball is not as complicated as some people try to make it. If you let guys play the game and put them in the right situations then good things can happen.

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

MW-Jacob Cowan (San Jacinto JC), Lonnie Chisenhall (Pitt CC), Keon Broxton (Santa Fe CC)

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

MW-Being a good teammate means to help others when help is needed. This is important because if you are going to have any success then you are going to have to have some team chemistry.

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

MW-Nah, nothing that comes to mind but I am sure I have little quirks if we are winning.

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

MW-The amount of games that are played and the amount of showcases that are available at young ages.

DP-What is your greatest high school thrill?

MW-Lancaster vs Sumter. Every time we played them it seemed to be a dogfight. From my 10th grade year on it seemed like I got the ball against Nic Touchstone and Mike Pomaville and every game would come down to the last inning.

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

MW-Throwing a no-hitter at SMC in the region tourney to get us to the championship game. We won that game 1-0 in which SMC assistant Chris Kemp drove in our winning run.

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

MW-Nick Stavinoha (San Jacinto JC), David Wright (travel ball), BJ Upton (travel ball)

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

MW-My parents, because of everything they have done for me, my brother, and my sister. I would not be where I am today without their support in every way imaginable.

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

MW-David Wells’ perfect game in Yankee Stadium against the Twins.

DP-Who is you favorite athlete outside of baseball?

MW-Tom Brady

DP-Who is your favorite MLB pitcher and position player to watch and why?  MW-Tom Glavine because he knows how to pitch. Derek Jeter because he always does things the right way.

DP-Who is your favorite MLB team? 

MW-Atlanta Braves

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


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

MW-College Basketball

DP-What are some of your hobbies?

MW-Ping pong

DP-What is your favorite movie?

MW-Top Gun

DP-Who is your favorite actor? Actress?

MW-Denzel Washington and Julia Stiles

DP-What is your favorite meal?

MW-Chicken Parmesan with spaghetti and salad

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

MW-I am ambidextrous 

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

MW-Greg Maddux, so we could talk about pitching. My Mom’s father because I never got to meet him, and Bobby Knight because he is hilarious and I love his you tube videos.  

DP-Where do you see yourself in ten years? 

MW-I see myself coaching pitchers somewhere successful at the Division 1 level, having a wife and a kid or two.

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

MW-Make sure you do your homework on a school before you rush into a decision/commitment.

DP-Thank you for your time and best of luck to you in 2010 and beyond!