Gary McClure has either played or coached baseball for over thirty years. In that time, he learned that teams aren’t made; they are molded together. Blended by time. Perfected by overcoming imperfections. In this brief Q&A, Gary McClure comments on this concept and recalls highlights from one of his best years at Austin Peay State University in Tennessee.
Q: What’s the most important lesson you learned as a head coach for APSU?
Gary McClure: I would say learning to have patience and understanding – They all have different makeup, and that they all need to be handled a little different and you can’t rush them. You have to earn their trust and get them to buy into your system!
Q: What do you mean?
Gary McClure: A team can have great players and great coaches but, like a good pair of cleats, it takes some time and wear and tear to get them to where they are comfortable and fit just right.
Q: You mean time for everything to mold together?
Gary McClure: Yes, time for the players to demonstrate what type of player they are going to be and find out how they are going to fit in and best help the team.
Q: So, you don’t always feel a sense of urgency when your team isn’t winning right off the bat?
Gary McClure: Of course, I always want to win and i believe you always have to have some urgency, but I want that success to be sustainable.It is myhope that we can still win while figuring the things we need to know about our team and then get better from there.
Q: How long can it take to get a good idea about where each player fits in?
Gary McClure: I’ve seen teams drudge through a dozen to 15 games before getting into their “groove.” Again, you just want progress and for your players to compete as hard as they can.
Q: What do you think turns a situation like that around so drastically?
Gary McClure: Having talent and believing in yourself. They also must continue to buy into your programs system. Baseball is a mental game and you will never succeed if you can’t handle some failure and respond..
Q: That was an interesting year for numerous reasons and was full of highlights.
Gary McClure: 2013 was a good year, indeed! We had a few standouts including Craig Massoni who led us in almost every offensive category and was the OVC player of the year. Cody Hudson who was hitting .372. And Jordan Hankins was just behind at .352 and we had a bunch of other guys who had great years and played their roles on the team. We obviously had some great pitching or we wouldn’t have went anywhere. We were capable of playing and beating anyone that year.
Q: It sounds like 2013 had some great players to watch.
Gary McClure: The Govs won their 3rd consecutive OVC Championship that year. We also set new standard for our program and the Ohio Valley Conference. For me, it will always be a year to remember. It was special!