Sports News

Coaches from across the county weigh in on spring season


Manning Times: What inspired you to become a baseball coach and how did your personal experience with the sport influence your decision to pursue coaching?

Curtis Johnson, East Clarendon Baseball: Just the love of the game was a passion as a kid.

Joey Henry, Scotts Branch Baseball: I started playing baseball at the age of eight, and have had the love of the game ever since. I have been involved with either coaching and umpiring baseball for over 40 years. My full time job with the County’s Recreation Department gives the inspiration and drive to give back to those who are interested in the game. 

Catherine Mahoney, Manning High Softball: I have always loved softball, I started playing at a very young age starting with tee ball and then baseball. At the time, we did not have recreational softball for young people here so I played baseball until I was old enough to play softball. After graduating high school and no longer being able to play, I wasn’t ready to give it up and knew that I wanted to coach. If I can’t play, coaching was the next best option. Loving the sport and missing playing is why I pursued coaching.

MT: How long have you been coaching?

CJ/East Clarendon Baseball: I have been coaching since 2009. 

JH/Scotts Branch Baseball: I started coaching and assisting in the mid eighties, from little league, high school to the adult Gamecock league. 

CM/Manning High Softball: I have been coaching for 15 years. 

MT: Can you describe your coaching strategies during both practices and games?

CJ/East Clarendon Baseball: You wanna put pressure on both defense and offense and basically just trust the ability of your players.

JH/Scotts Branch Baseball: I am a very hands-on kind of coach and still believe in the old fundamentals. By trying to get a program that was idle for a while, I try to let practices simulate the real game. 

CM/Manning High Softball: One of the main strategies I try to use and encourage my assistant coaches is to make it fun. If we want these young girls to continue to come out and love the sport, we have to make it fun. There are a lot of aspects when it comes to softball and some days are not as fun as others but we do try to incorporate at least one fun drill each day at practice. I respect my players, of course at times I have to come down on them, but I make sure they know it is not because of anything personal. I always tell my players when I stop fussing at you it means I have stopped caring. My girls know I care for them and will have their back. During games I try to stay positive and remind myself along with the team that it is just a game, yes we want to win, but at the end of the night, it’s just a game. 

MT: How do you stay updated on new training techniques and  develop a relationship with players? 

CJ/East Clarendon Baseball: I just keep them in the loop and make their opinions matter.

JH/Scott’s Branch Baseball: I use some training videos and let my players know daily that if they want to get the best out of their experience with the game it can take them beyond measures. 

CM/Manning High Softball: The internet has been a huge help with new training techniques. Talking to other coaches, getting ideas from them on what they are doing with their teams. I get to know my players, I tell my players about my life and family. I build trust with each player. I want them to know that yes I am their coach but that I am also there for them outside of softball. I talk to them like I talk to my children. I make sure to listen to them.

MT: How do you handle challenges or setbacks? 

CJ/East Clarendon Baseball: You’re going to have setbacks, you just gotta control what you can control really. 

JH/Scotts Branch Baseball: I have to do a lot of thinking about the past knowing that this is something new to my players because none of them have ever played before.

CM/Manning High Softball: We have a lot of challenges and setbacks in softball, especially in the region we are in at the moment. We play really good teams, several teams in our region have won state championships and usually go far in the state playoffs. It’s tough playing teams that are so good and that have won championships in recent years. Staying positive and trying to have fun is one way I try to handle challenges. I take a look at what I have done and see what I need to change.