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ABCA Minority Member Spotlight: Omar Johnson, Jackson State University

The American Baseball Coaches Association strives to help diversify the baseball community and help bring opportunities in the game to all areas. The ABCA Minority Spotlight series looks to capture the experiences, coaching style, and impact that baseball has had on different ABCA member coaches. A new Minority Spotlight feature is released on the ABCA Podcast on the third Monday of the month and we will transcribe a small portion of the interview, which you can find below.

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The ABCA Podcast releases a new episode weekly featuring coaches from all levels of the sport. Discussions run the gamut of baseball coaching topics, from pitching, to hitting, to the mental game, practice planning, recruiting and more. The podcast is hosted by Ryan Brownlee, longtime coach and current Assistant Executive Director of the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA).

Since taking the helm of the Jackson State University baseball program in 2007, Omar Johnson has had tremendous success recording a winning season each year. He has recorded thirteen 30-win campaigns in 16 years. Johnson has joined Robert “Bob” Brady as the only coaches in program history to surpass 500 wins. Under Johnson’s leadership, he has guided the Tigers to finish with a Grade Point Average of 3.0 or better every season. 

Ryan Brownlee: What did you think of the Baserunning Hot Stove [at the ABCA Convention]?

Omar Johnson:
It was great! I have been to a couple as a coach just sitting in the room but having an opportunity to share some of the things we do in our program is a really important thing to me. 

RB: At what point in your career did you kind of know baserunning was going to be a staple in your program? 

It is where I came from, being at North Alabama with coach Lang. Over there we put a lot of emphasis on baserunning and the short game.

RB: Are you using a machine to practice bunting? 

We try to do as much live that we can for safety squeeze and suicide squeezes just to see the actions of it. Then a lot of sacrifice bunting we are using a machine. That Hack Attack is unbelievable, it puts the ball in the same spot every time. Which then allows the guys to work on some technique and location down the lines. 

RB: How are you helping your guys through the learning part of things?

It depends on the kid. Years ago I started a freshman catcher and hurt his confidence because he had to work through some of those freshman struggles. I learned from that situation you have to sit guys sometimes and let them regroup. It helped him in the long run when he came back his junior year and had a much better season.

RB: What did Bob Brady mean to your career?

Coach Brady gave me an opportunity, and I am forever grateful. He is in his 80s and still shows up to every game and has great energy.

RB: What were some of his tips to you when you took over the program?

He said make sure you recruit, that was probably the biggest thing. He said you can’t win without players. He has been really supportive of things we do.

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