Coaches’ Corner with TCU’s Randy Mazey

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This week in Coaches Corner we get baseball insight from Randy Mazey, Associate Head Coach of TCU.  Since Coach Mazey’s arrival at TCU in 2007, the Frogs have tallied 40 or more wins, been to five NCAA Regionals, including hosting three, two NCAA Super Regionals and one College World Series. Fourteen of Mazey’s pitchers have been drafted in the last five years, three of which have already made their Major League debuts (Andrew Cashner, Chicago Cubs; Jake Arrieta, Baltimore Orioles; Sam Demel, Arizona Diamondbacks).

Before coming to TCU, coach Mazey spent three years as head coach of East Carolina, and prior to that spent six seasons as recruiting director at Tennessee, East Carolina, and Georgia.  Many thanks to Coach Mazey for taking the time to chat with Next Level Ballplayer.

As always, the questions are geared toward helping you become a better ballplayer by understanding what coaches look for and ways to improve.

What advice would you give a HS ballplayer looking to play at TCU?
To play at TCU, you have to be a great player, great student, and a great person who is looking for big time college athletics in a small school environment.

When you are recruiting ballplayers, what are 3 things they can do to stand out?
For me, once I recognize that they have the talent to play at this level, I look for the intangibles like hustle, work ethic, how they talk to their teammates and coaches, and how they act when something goes wrong.  If I don’t like the intangibles, I won’t recruit him.

What would you say is the most difficult adjustment for freshman to make when transitioning to college baseball? And what can they do to adjust more quickly?
I’d say the biggest adjustment is that they have just come from being the best player on their high school team to being one of 35 of who were also the best players on their high school team.  Now they have to find a new way to separate themselves from the increased level of competition.  Also, the fact that they are living on their own for the first time is a huge adjustment period.  It takes some time for freshman to mature off the field, and as hard as we try, there is no way to speed up that process, they have to learn it on their own, it’s part of growing up.

What’s the best way for an underclassmen to get more playing time on a talented team?
Like I just mentioned. They have to find a way to separate themselves from their new competition, so they have to be able to handle it the right way if things do go well at first, which is what happens to every freshman who has ever gone to college.  If they have a bad day, which they all will, and have the attitude to learn from it and get better, then they usually find a way to make it into the lineup.  If they mope and pout when things go bad, it usually takes those guys a little longer to break into the lineup.

Today, what are some of the biggest obstacles that keep college ballplayers from reaching their potential?
 I think the things that stand in the way the most are the distractions.  If kids get too caught up in college life, sometimes they tend to lose sight of baseball.  The guys who reach their full potential are the guys who are serious about playing this game for a living.

How would you define a winning ballplayer?
A winning ball player is a mentality more than anything.  Being a winning ballplayer doesn’t have anything to do with how good of a player you are, but if you are a good teammate on a winning team, I consider you a winning ballplayer.

What do you think separates the good ballplayers from the great ones?
The great players have a great work ethic and desire to be a great player.  Everyone in our program is talented enough to be a great player, but only a few of them become great players.  Again, being able to balance the distractions of college life and the work ethic that they were taught as children are what enables them to take that extra step.

Who is the most talented player you have coached?
Boy, there have been a lot.  Brian Holaday last year, Chris Burke from Tennessee was a great college player.  Jake Arrietta and Matt Carpenter from TCU were great players.  There were a lot of guys I coached with more talent than these guys, but these guys were great players.

What are your thoughts on the new bats?
I think everyone is overreacting to the new bats a little bit.  As with any new rule change, for a few years everyone gets up in arms about it, but eventually when everyone adjusts to it, it becomes fine.  I love aluminum bats for the excitement factor but people don’t realize the danger of a pitcher getting hit with a line drive unless you’ve been hit with a line drive before from about 55 feet away.  It is very dangerous and someone could get killed, as we all know has happened before.  I would just as soon swing newspapers if it meant nobody getting killed.  It is just a game.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to ballplayers out there who want to take their game to the next level?
One thing I would tell young kids who want to play this game for a living is to be a relentless worker at your skill, learn as you go, be a great teammate, respect all of your coaches, and most importantly, find balance in your life.  Don’t be obsessed with baseball.  People who are obsessed with a particular area of their life are usually really good at the thing they are obsessed with, but every other part of their life suffers.  Don’t be so caught up in baseball that it has a negative impact on your education, or more importantly, your relationships with people.  After all, when baseball is over, the relationships that you have built along the way is what will carry you through the rest of your life.

**Bonus Questions

What book has been most influential on your life? (doesn’t have to be baseball related) 
My #1 is a book called Raising Cole, which is the story of Cole Pittman, a football player at the university of Texas who was killed in a car accident.  His father wrote a book about how he raised him. 

What is your favorite kind of movie?
I’m not much of a reader, more of a movie guy.  I like anything that is inspirational, motivational, or emotional.  I really like to feel things when I read or watch a movie, and I’m not afraid to get emotional either.  I think too many people are afraid to show their emotions when they are passionate about something.  I can’t even speak publically about my relationships with my wife and children without getting emotional because it means so much to me.  I’m a little different than most coaches I think because I think most coaches spend most of their time teaching kids the skills that they will use for the next 4 years or so (the baseball skills).  I spend most of my time teaching kids the skills that they will use the rest of their lives.  How to have relationships, how to treat people, respect people, how to be good husbands and fathers, and just how to be a good person.  So anytime I can draw upon that through someone else’s message in a movie or a book, that’s what I like the most.

Off the top of your head, what are 5 things on your bucket list? (ie. things you want to do, places you want to go, people you want to meet- before your time on earth is done.)
That’s funny that you ask that because I make all of my players do a bucket list as well.  We call it a dream list, and you do it without any limitations. 
Here’s 5 of mine:

  • I want to bungee jump.
  • I want to build my own log cabin on a river out west.
  • I want to play in an adult ice hockey league (I don’t even know how to skate right now).
  • I want to catch a trout in every state that has them (I’ve got 24 right now).
  • I want to be known by my children as the best father that ever lived.

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