Coaches Corner: Sean Heffernan


heffernans-head.jpgFrancis Marion assistant coach Sean Heffernan enters his third season at Francis Marion University following coaching stops at West Florence and Florence-Darlington Tech. The Queens, NY native also coached in the Coastal Plains League following his playing career at Coker College. Learn more about Heffernan in his Diamond Spotlight:

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

SH-10 years now….5 at West Florence HS and 5 at the college level (2 years at FDTC and going on 3 years at FMU). I got into coaching because the most influential people in my life outside of my parents were my coaches.

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

SH-I really enjoy being around my players. It is very rewarding to watch guys develop over the course of their careers. It’s always exciting when former players contact you to share the successes of their lives even after baseball is over. 

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

SH-It means a lot. The word that comes to mind is responsibility. I feel like I am responsible for developing these guys as much as possible. Also to help them prepare for life after baseball.

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

SH-I think most people don’t really understand the time that is spent with our jobs. How many people would put in the hours coaches work without over time? Most jobs are motivated by money. My motivation is winning and developing players.

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?  

SH-I loved playing college baseball and I knew I wanted to coach at the college level because of that. The road trips, the tough practices, the brotherhood….. the winning!!! There is a much different commitment level when being a part of a college program. As a player and a coach you become consumed by it. I also really enjoy evaluating and recruiting. To steal a line from Bill Parcells, "If I am going to cook dinner I want to pick the groceries!!"

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

SH-It is very difficult. I spent the last three summers on a bus in the Coastal Plains League. It’s tough when my daughter asked me this summer if I was going to be at her birthday party!!…that was an eye opener! It can’t be done without a great wife and kids. I am very fortunate to have both. My wife understands athletics so I am lucky. She played 3 sports in college and coached HS soccer for a number of years.

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

SH-GRINDER!!! There are not a lot of those guys around but when you come across one, it is so much fun to watch. It makes me think of no excuses….just shut up and get after it!!!!

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

SH-Most people do not realize how special these people are. It takes a highly-motivated person to spend as much time with their sport and still be able to meet the demands of the classroom. Not everybody can do it.

DP-How has your junior college background helped you at FMU? 

SH-It has helped me a lot. I know how good Region X is, so we try to recruit the best guys out of that region each year. It also helped me build some valuable relationships with coaches in that league, which has truly helped me. 

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

SH-So far it would be starting the program at FDTC….It was a huge task. For us to win the regular season title and have 40 wins was a great experience. Those guys took a chance on us starting a program, and to see them celebrate on the field was unforgettable.

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

SH-My HS coach, Jack Curran, is a legend in New York. He is the baseball and basketball coach at Archbishop Molloy HS. He has coached a few NBA and MLB players and has a 1000 wins in both baseball and basketball….He has been coaching over 50 years!! I still talk to him, he is an unbelievable person and coach

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

SH-Rich Poytheuss– U of Georgia; Dylan Owen– FMU (he played for the Blowfish in the CPL for a few weeks before he signed with the Mets because I could not coach him with the Redwolves); Chris Swauger– The Citadel (I coached him too, but I coached against him as well in the CPL).

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

SH-It is very important to be a good teammate. I think a lot of guys over look this because most kids play baseball to showcase themselves and aren’t concerned with their teammates and winning and losing. Baseball is such a team game, you have to be concerned with helping your team win and you must be willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen. I like to recruit winners.

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


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

SH-Baseball players are so specialized anymore. They focus way too much on getting scholarships and not playing for the enjoyment of the game. When I was a kid there were no camps or showcase or anything like that. I think the exposure can be very beneficial but I also think it effects how players look at the game.

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

SH-I played 4 years at Coker College. Back then Coker was a very strong program. We were an NAIA program my first year and ranked as high as 3rd in the nation. We lost that year in the regional championship. The next 3 years we were NCAA D2…we were nationally-ranked and won three conference championships in my 4 years there. I was the MVP of the team my senior year. I also played briefly in the Frontier League after college. I drove 10 hours to an open tryout in Ohio and was selected by the Ohio Valley Redcoats in WV. The GM who selected me was former National League rookie of the year, Steve Swisher. 

DP-What is your greatest high school thrill?

SH-My HS won the NYC title (we only played for city titles not state) at Yankee Stadium….One week later I got to play at Shea stadium (Mets) for an all star game….It was an unbelievable week!!!!

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

SH-Getting married and having my two beautiful daughters.

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

SH-Matt Morris– MLB pitcher. I faced him in a summer league when he was at Seton Hall; Mike Soto– Reds minor leaguer; Mike Pasqullutio– might have spelled that wrong, Lamar University.

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

SH-My parents. They are Irish immigrants that moved to NYC in 1969 and made a good life for my sister and I.  

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

SH-Game 7 of the 1986 World Series…..I heard the crowd from my apartment (you could see the stadium from our kitchen window.) in Queens. I wish I was there!!!  Go Mets!!

DP-Who is you favorite athlete outside of baseball?

SH-I would have to say Tiger Woods…his dedication and drive is unbelievable!! There is no doubt he is gifted but the guy works at it…I don’t even golf but I respect what he does. Lance Armstrong is amazing as well.

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

SH-Pitcher- Tim Lincecum– SF Giants, Little guy with power stuff! Position Player-Jose Reyes– NY Mets- He is the most exciting guy in the MLB….I love watching him hit a ball in the gap.

DP-Who is your favorite MLB team?

SH-NY Mets

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


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

SH-College football

DP-What are some of your hobbies?

SH-When I am not on the baseball field or recruiting I love to spend time with my family….that is all I do when I am not on the field.

DP-What is your favorite movie?

SH-Bull Durham or Anchorman

DP-Who is your favorite actor? Actress?

SH-Denzel Washington and Ashley Judd

DP-What is your favorite meal?

SH-NYC pizza

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

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

SH-Auggie Garrido– not really from history but I would love to sit down and pick his brain; Mickey Mantle– the original power and speed guy. Roberto Clemente– I have always heard he was an unbelievable person.

DP-Where do you see yourself in ten years? 

SH-Hopefully still involved in baseball….coaching in college or maybe even scouting.

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 and how it may end up affecting the Division II schools?

SH-I like it because I am at a D2 school. It gives us a chance to recruit some guys that may have been going to bigger schools on a very small scholarship. We need D1 caliber players to win in the Peach Belt so these new rules give us a shot at them.

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

SH-Play the game because you enjoy it and you want to play. Don’t play if your only motivation is scholarships and what you can get out of it.  Enjoy it and love it because it will end some day. One of my favorite quotes is: "if there was no tomorrow how hard would you play today."

DP-Thank you so much Coach for your time and for some very good aswwers. Best of luck to you and the Patriots in 2009.