If you are following the College World Series right now, you’re familiar with the Indiana University baseball program and their head coach, Tracy Smith, or “Skip” as he’s known to his players.
Coach Smith has led the IU Hoosier baseball program to their first NCAA Super Regional and now, first College World Series in school history.
If that wasn’t enough, he was recently named National Coach of the Year by the NCBWA.
This is the second time that Coach Smith has completely turned a baseball program around and brought a team to new heights.
I was privileged enough to be at the back end of his first turn around at Miami University.
My senior year (Skip’s last year at Miami before taking over at Indiana), we tied a school record for wins with a 45-18 record that included a MAC Championship and a berth in the NCAA Regional that year in Texas.
In my four years of playing under Coach Smith, there were many ups and downs.
You didn’t like him every day, but you couldn’t help but respect him. As he liked to point out at the beginning of every school year, “I’m not here to be your best friend, I’m here to make you better.”
He demanded a lot out of each individual player and always pushed us physically and mentally.
It wasn’t until after my playing career ended that I started fully appreciating the baseball and life lessons I learned during my four years under “Skip”.
Post-college, we continue to keep in touch, and he has been beyond helpful to me in starting and maintaining Next Level Ballplayer.
In honor of Tracy Smith’s College World Series run this year, here are my Top Ten Baseball and Life Lessons I’ve learned from him over the years…
#1 The TRUE Meaning of Team
You win as a team, you lose as a team. You’ve probably heard that before, but it was drilled into our team and our program every chance Skip got. If one person got in trouble (on or off the field), the entire team got punished.
Of course, there would be individual consequences as well, but the team would have consequences even if one player messed up. That breeds accountability, and you better believe the players looked out for each other on and off the field. Everybody was in it together.