Coaches Corner: Chad Holbrook – USC


holbrookchad09.jpgCoaches Corner – Chad Holbrook, South Carolina: After a highly-productive run for the Tarheels over more than a dozen years, Chad Holbrook is now in his second year as the Gamecock recruiting coordinator. In his Q & A for Diamond Prospects, the USC associate head coach talks about Omaha, gives us personal favorites on an array of things and takes us down memory lane, but he also provides our viewers a glimpse of reality and the dose of nasty curveballs that his family has dealt with outside the white lines:

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

This will be my 17th year coaching. 15 years at UNC and the last two here at South Carolina.

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

There is something special about being in a dugout with a group of players and coaches that are all trying to do their best to help the team win. The camaraderie and the relationships you have with the players is something that is very, very rewarding.

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

Well, it means a lot. The first two terms that pop into my mind when defining a coach are "leader, and role model." But you have to be so much more. You have to be genuine, you have to be honest, you have to be knowledgeable, you have to be a great communicator, and you certainly have to be very aware of so many things going on around you.

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

I’m very lucky and get great enjoyment of being a coach at a great state University. I guess the thing that would surprise people would be that I would guess that only 30 percent of my job entails coaching. The other 70 percent involves recruiting, traveling, paperwork, phone calls, scheduling, organizing, and public relations work. I certainly wish it was the other way around. 

DP-You came to Columbia as a very highly decorated recruiting coordinator from North Carolina. What type of adjustments have you had to make leaving your alma mater for USC? 

Well, it’s two great schools and two great programs. Each university and baseball program is unique in its own way. Coach Tanner has given me so many responsibilities and that makes coming to work everyday so much fun. We have a great product here for kids that want to play college baseball and its energizing to be working for a great coach, university, city, and community all of which are so passionate about the sport of baseball. 

DP-You’ve been to Omaha and had success. What is that experience like? 

It’s certainly a great experience and one of the best sporting events in our country. So to be involved in an event that is watched by the entire nation is an awesome experience. It’s more rewarding for a coach to watch the look on your players’ faces when they play in Omaha and walk on that field for the first time. It’s just an incredible event to be a part of.   

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 grew up in a coaching household. My father was a coach during my entire childhood. It was just something I always wanted to do. I’ve been awfully lucky to be around great kids, great people, and two great universities. You certainly don’t get into coaching because of the money but the experiences this profession give you both on and off the field are priceless.

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

It’s something I struggle with everyday. I would much rather be known as a great dad than a great coach. And regardless of the success I have as a coach, I hope that when I call it quits, that my kids think I was a better father than I was a coach. That’s important to me. Luckily, Coach Tanner gives us such freedom to be with our families. He makes sure that we have time and that we take time to be with our kids and wives. In the grand scheme of things, that certainly is the most important thing we do.

DP-You are the father of two. Some may not know what your family has been through with your oldest son Reece and his health issues. How difficult has it been to combine everything that goes along with his treatments with the daily demands of your ballclub? 

holbrookfamily-09.jpgReece is my hero. He has done so much more for his mom and dad than we have done for him. He will always be the person that I admire the most. As any parent would attest, you will do anything and everything you can for your kids and their health. So when something needs to be addressed with Reece from a treatment or an appointment standpoint- whatever else I’m doing takes a backseat. It really doesn’t matter what I’m doing, who I’m recruiting or who we are playing. When Reece needs to be taken care of, that is what Jenn and I do and that is what any parent would do if they had a young kid that faces life-threatening issues. 

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

Offensively hitting behind runners, executing the bunt and hit-and-run game, running the bases hard, running on and off the field. Defensively-pitchers working fast, throwing strikes, playing great defense, throwing the ball to the right base, hitting the cutoff man and again, running on and off the field.

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

holbrookc09-2.jpgThe Super Regional win at Alabama to send us to our first College World Series is something I will never forget. It was a walk-off, two-out, three-run homerun. That made it even more special. It was a special moment.

DP-Quite a few rules have changed the recruiting game over the past 5 years. Which rule changes do you like, not like and how has it altered your approach to recruiting?

I believe that most of the rules were intended to protect the student-athlete, it’s my belief that the effect has been the opposite of the intentions by the NCAA. Most of the new rules have essentially put the student-athlete at a disadvantage. Roster spots and scholarship money fill up quickly and are at a premium under the present rules. Student-athletes realize that, hence, verbal commitments are likely to occur earlier and earlier.

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

My high school football coach, Jim Taylor (one of the winningest football coaches in the history of NC), at Shelby High School is the coach that I wanted to be like most. A great teacher, worker, and leader. To this day I want to have the same qualities he showed me when I played for him. Roy Williams with the UNC Basketball team has done so much for our family. He has shown me how important it is to be a better person than you are coach. We all know he is a great coach but trust me, he is a better person. I will never forget how he treated us when our family needed help with Reece’s sickness.

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

Mark Teixeira, JD Drew and Khalil Greene.

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

A good teammate is always there for all team members in good times and bad. They set great examples on the field, off the field, in the weightroom, and in the classroom. They always put the program and others in front of themselves.

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

Many. No haircuts on gameday.

DP-What is your greatest high school thrill? 

Winning the football state championship and being selected for the Shrine Bowl. 

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

Getting married to a great person, being the father of two, and playing in the College World Series-in that order.

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

Nomar Garciaparra, Billy Wagner and Paul Wilson. 

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

My mom Bobbie Holbrook, no question. She lost her battle with cancer 13 years ago. She taught me how to act both on and off the field, how to handle adversity, how to overcome obstacles in athletics and in life, and how to be a good person. She was a Saint!

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

I just wish I could have watched Jackie Robinson play and witness how he handled everything that was thrown his way. 

DP-Who is you favorite athlete outside of baseball?

Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong.

DP-Who is your favorite MLB pitcher and position player to watch and why? Greg Maddux-a true pitcher. Albert Pujols-one of the best hitters of our time, he is very involved in the community, and he wasn’t very highly thought of as an amateur.  

DP-Who is your favorite MLB team? 

I really don’t have one.

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


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

College football

DP-What are some of your hobbies?

Collect baseball cards, sports memorabilia, jet skiing.

DP-What is your favorite movie?

The Blind Side (recently)

DP-Who is your favorite actor? Actress? 

Jack Nicholson. Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock

DP-What is your favorite meal? 

Mexican=Quesadillas and Burritos.

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

I’m scared to fly but my job mandates I have to. I want a Madden Cruiser!

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

John F. Kennedy-his charisma and strength was such a rare combination. Jackie Robinsonthe obstacles he overcame. Herb BrooksThe 1980 Olympic Hockey team story to me is still the most moving and incredible feat that ever occurred in an athletic arena.

DP-Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Hopefully still coaching baseball at the University of South Carolina.

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

Play hard, study hard, and treat every practice and every game like it’s your last. Do your best to prepare and set your future so when your playing days are over you are prepared. Believe it or not, there will come a day when you have to hang the spikes up-for most it’s a lot sooner than you realize. It is a very rare occurrence that someone makes a living playing this great game so plan accordingly.

DP-Thank you for your time and candid responses to our baseball and personal questions. Good luck in 2010!