Changeup: Q&A with new baseball coach Holbrook
By Thom Harman, email@example.com, 803-777-7705
New USC athletics director Ray Tanner named Chad Holbrook head baseball coach in July 2012. Holbrook served under Tanner as associate head coach and recruiting coordinator for four years. He joined the Gamecocks in 2008 after 15 years on the coaching staff at the University of North Carolina, where he also played.
Coach Holbrook fielded a few questions the week before South Carolina opens its 2013 baseball season with a three-game homestand against Liberty (Feb. 15-17).
Q: What things are you hoping to learn about your team or establish in the first couple weeks of the season?
A: More so the characteristics, the traits that they have. Are they going to play tough? Are they going to fight? Are they going to compete? Is winning extremely important to them? I’m not worried about their talent level. Their skill level is very good. We have some good players. But are they going to come together as a group and put winning at the top of the pedestal and then compete like crazy? How will they handle adversity when things don’t go well? Those are the things I’m going to be looking for early. If they handle those things well, we have a chance to have a really good team. But there’s been a lot of talented teams not make the postseason, you know, especially in the SEC. So we’ve got to make sure we aren’t one of those teams, but that we’re a team that’s going to fight and compete and try to win each and every day. And if we do that and keep winning at the top — the most important thing when we come down to the baseball stadium is to win — we’re going to be OK.
Q: Do you ever go back and talk to Ray Tanner for advice?
A: I think you’re still going to see his fingerprint all over our team and our program. At least, I hope that’s what you see. We’re trying to emulate him, to be honest with you. And he taught me so much, and I’m going to try to remember, “What would he do? How would he handle this situation?” So his influence is going to be all over the program as we go forward, and I’m going to lean on him big-time. Every time I get in a quandary and I don’t know how to handle a situation, the first person I’m going to call is Coach Tanner. It happens with scheduling, it happens personnel-wise, it happens if one of our kids gets in trouble. I’m a lucky coach to have him to be able to lean on and ask for advice. And I’m going to continue to do that as long as I’m coach here.
Q: Is there anything you’d like to say to the fans as the season opens?
A: I think it’s going to be a team that they’re going to love to watch play. Coach Tanner’s not in the dugout making the decisions anymore. And therefore, because we play such a difficult schedule, there are going to be bumps in the road. I told somebody the other day that this school has been in existence for 212 years, and we’ve won two national championships. So we’ve got to keep our expectations in check. It doesn’t happen every year. But we’ve got a really good team. If they come together and play well, we’ll be able to compete with anybody in the country. And that’s where the excitement kind of starts with our fans. But the message to our fans is that we need them. One of the reasons that we win a lot of our games at home is the environment at Carolina Stadium. When baseball teams walk in here and they see 8,000 Gamecocks, they know it’s going to be tough to win here. And that’s an advantage that we need to continue to have as we move forward. One of the main reasons that our players come here, and our coaches come here, is the fans and the excitement and the environment that our fans allow us to play in and coach in. They motivate us, they help us win, and we’re going to need them big-time this year because our schedule’s extremely difficult.