Ryan Brownlee: How are you establishing a culture that is full of energy?
There are three things we talk about that you can control in a game: your attitude, effort, and energy. There are times where you will hit the ball hard and it's right at them, there will be times on the mound you don't have your secondary pitches, but you can always control the energy you bring. That's something Edwin preaches to the guys every single day. We feel if we can match the other team's energy, we have a good chance to win any ball game we are playing.
RB: How long did it take you to find your voice as a coach?
I was actually very fortunate, it was in my second year of coaching. I was at Stillman College as an assistant coach. Donny Crawford, who is now the head coach at Lane College, he really freed me up to kind of work with guys and talk to them. He never gave me a sense of “Hey Julius, I want you to do X,Y and Z.” It was, “Hey Julius you have the infielders…GO!” So, I had to develop that voice quickly being only 24 years old. It was a great experience because I was able to figure out what worked and what did not. What verbiage to use and what verbiage not to use. So really my second year was where I was able to find my voice.
RB: You guys run a huge youth camp in the fall with inner city kids, correct?
Yes, it is probably one of the more enjoyable days in the fall. We get to see our players outside of baseball which isn't often. We can see them interact with kids who see them as big leaguers. It's just fun to see the smile on kids’ faces and the fun the kids have running around. For some of the kids, it’s their first time being around baseball and us being able to give them that first good experience is important. We always joke that everyone remembers their first baseball experience. Hopefully, we are able to create a lot of good memories and get the community involved in baseball.
RB: Is there anything you're doing different now from when you first started?
Honestly the approach is the biggest difference. When I first started coaching I knew what I did as a hitter but I didn't really have an approach and could not put it into words. When Coach Thompson hired me at EKU, in that first year we were really able to come up with an approach and put it into words. It was really simple, we tried to make everything simple, stay up the middle and hunt the belt. Really getting guys to take those tough pitches at the knees, which is something I never really talked about in my early days of coaching. Just the approach is the biggest difference offensively. Then defensively, when I first started it was a lot of drills and as I evolved and saw more practices and how guys moved I transitioned that into what I believed is reps are more important.
RB: What changes for you, if anything, and how do you handle stuff in season?
The biggest difference between this year's team and last years from a BP stand point is, last year one of the things we did was really push the turtle up on the guys. They could still finish their swing but the front of the turtle hung over the field so guys really had to work on a line. We also moved the L-screen up and threw really firm. This year we obviously are continuing that, but this year we will probably have more machine BP, even for games we will have the Hack Attack out.
RB: How are you handling nutrition for them on the road?
We have a new operations person and she handles a lot of that for us behind the scenes. Her, Coach Thompson, and one of our student managers, Willy Baker, all work together to make sure that guys have their meals for the weekend. They select the meals the guys need in order to perform so we will do pastas and chicken, and on get away days, we will do something easy like spaghetti or pizza.
RB: For young coaches trying to get in the profession what are some tips?
Stay persistent. When I was trying to get in I sent the same email to every coach in the state of Kentucky three to four times until I got a response. So really just stay persistent if coaching is what you want to do. Then once you're in it wherever you are, make that school your dream school. We all as coaches have dream schools or desire places where we would like to be but you have to be where your feet are. If you make that school your dream school, typically good things will happen.