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Episode 71

Why do some teams always produce successful teams?  I sat down with 5 great high school baseball coaches from around the country to discuss what it takes to win a state championship in baseball.  Between these coaches, they have won over 3,300 games and over 20 state championships in high school. baseball.

It starts with culture and having athletes.  Pitching, defense and timely hitting.  Trust in your players and focusing on developing a strong bond with your players are critical.  This is why they are ultra successful.

  • Todd Fitz-Ferald: Stoneman Douglas HS (FL)
  • Butch Chaffin: Cookeville HS (TN)
  • John Lowery: Jefferson HS (WV)
  • Tom Held: Defiance HS (OH)
  • Chris Kaczmar: Walsh Jesuit HS (OH)


Hello and welcome to episode 71 of the Athlete One Podcast. I'm your host, Ken Carpenter. It's May 9th, 2023, and that means high school baseball is moving into what I refer to as its third and final part of the season, post-season play the state tournament. What does it take to win a high school baseball state championship? I sat down with grade coaches and we take a deep dive into what it takes to win. Todd Fitzgerald, Marjorie Stoneman, Douglas High School, max Prep, 2022 National Champion. Tom Held Defiance High School, who's won multiple titles. In defiance Ohio, John Lowry, Jefferson High School, West Virginia, the winningest coach. In the state of West Virginia with over 1200 wins, Chris Kasmar Walsh Jesuit High School, recently retired with an incredible 24 year coaching career and multiple state championships. And Butch Chaffin Cookville High School, Tennessee, and coach for team U S A. Next on the Athlete one podcast. Welcome to the Athlete one podcast, veteran high school baseball coach Ken Carpenter takes you into life's classroom as experienced through sports. Go behind the scenes with athletes and coaches as they share great stories, life lessons, and ways to impact others. This episode of The Athlete One Podcast is powered by the netting professionals improving programs one facility at a time. The netting professionals specialize in the design, fabrication, and installation of custom netting for baseball and softball, including backstops, batting cages, BP turtles, and screens ball carts and more. They also design and install digital graphic wall padding, windscreen turf. Turf protectors and dugout benches. The NetIG Pros also work with football, soccer, lacrosse, and golf courses. Contact them today at 8 4 4 6 2 0 2 7 0 7. That's 8 4 4 6 2 0 2 7 0 7. Or visit them online@www.nettingpros.com. You can check out the Netting Pros on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn for all their latest projects and products. Winning it all requires a lot to fall in place. Players, especially seniors, feel the pressure knowing it might be the last time to get to put on a uniform. Maybe you catch a lucky break, your team Fol puts it together and goes on a run. Despite all the hard work, success is never guaranteed. Upsets will happen. An unexpected injury. A call may not go your way, or even the weather could play a role. Let's start with 2022 Max Preps national champion head coach at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School. Todd Fitzgerald in Florida. You have to have athletes. He'll tell you, I am the coach that I am because of the players that have played for me. He emphasizes daily competition. And what do you want your legacy to be? You win a national championship and you know I had a chance to read one of the articles there and you are returning some incredible talent. How do you get those players to, to stay hungry? Like I said earlier, you know, it's competition every day at practice and you know, a lot of times, you know, guys, guys sign and they check out on you, but you know, it's just, we just have such a good tradition going and these guys want to be better than the last team. And it's just really, it's really just a legacy. You know, how do they wanna leave their legacy? Do you want to be that team and. You want to be the team that stumbled at the end, or you wanna be that team that got a chance to play for our state championship and you know, keep the tradition going or, or do you wanna be the team that's remembered that that couldn't hold the rope? So you know, it's, it's, it's self-motivation and, and motivation by our coaches to, to work hard every day. And, you know, we don't take days off at practice and. We're gonna, we're gonna push you every single day to be the best you can be. And you know, yeah, we're gonna fail and we may lose a game here and there, but at the end of the day, it's not. It's not about that. It's about developing to be the best version of yourself that you can be every single day. So we don't want you to be anything more than the best version of yourself, and don't try and be somebody you're not. So Yeah, just little messages like that. You know, we, we have a saying in, in our program, it's called I N A M, iam, it's not about me. You know, and, and guys really take hold of that, you know, to a man, you know, baseball's an individual sport within a team concept. And you know, if you, if, if you play together as a team and you know, your individual stuff will come because you'll be winning. So, you know, we kind of focus on those things. Baseball success and especially in the State's tournament starts with pitching. Here's Butch Chaffin veteran head coach at Cookville Tennessee High School, sharing how he beat future mlb All star David Price. Despite being struck out 21 times. And then the closer we got to it, I said in the newspaper, I had a picture pretty good too. And you know, I said so and so schools got their guy and Soandso, they've got the price kid. But I really like my guy. I think my guy's the best pitcher in the history. And so it's, I'm not kidding in it's 30 degrees and I'm getting calls from every crosschecker in Scout of America. And they're going, don't, don't you bear pants the same? And I was like, what's the deal? They go, you're about to see a freaking tornado. And I'm like, what? And they're like, yeah, this kid's a real deal. We're all coming in the scene. So I was like, great. So it's 30 degrees, they roll in, they put him on the Bottom of the first inning, my guy goes 1, 2, 3, gets a couple ground balls of strikeout, and we go out and fry. Throws nine pitches and gets three strikeout. So, I mean, I'm not even the third base to the coaches box really, and I'm already turning around walking back and I coaches guy. Now, keep in mind, gray is also in the same district, and so. So we go back to out, its zero zero. They can't score either. My guy, he, he ended up striking 17 out and they can't score and price didn't for and bought the fifth inning. I was like, guys just trying to foul stuff off his discount up. This is before, you know, pitch counts. Yeah, but I know, I see his dad. It's gotta be his dad standing right next to the dug gal. He's hawking. Just talking the coach about how many pitches you can let him throw, how many pitches you let, yeah, I mean, its sick. It looks just like it does now. It sick and pitches off, and we're getting pretty good about. He strikes my guy out and he comes running off the mountain and we kind of meet, you know, as we're walking. And he looks at me and he, his chest, and he goes, I'm the best pitcher in the district, you know, and he threw in an expletive, but he said, I'm the best pitcher in the district. I was dang good. And we ended up, they pulled him after seven and he struck us out 41 times and seven inning. But after seven it was zero to zero. And we had beaten his team the night before and we had a home run to beat him at their place. Well, the same kid comes up in the last inning. The last inning. I have a second basement and his name's Rich Farone and he's kind of famous. He's the CrossFit. Four time fittest man on the planet a few years back, okay? And I go, rich, I go, Richie, what's your plan? And he goes, well, they made a pension change and this guy's only throwing 85. So I think I'm gonna lean into one cause I'm starving and we're going home. So sure he gets hit by a pitch. He's steals second base. The kid that hit the home run the night before comes up and hits like a 48 offer due to six hole and there's no way I'm stopping here. And so we walked him off with a single, we price one to nothing. And he struck this out 21 times. Oh my. It's a huge advantage to have a community that loves the game of baseball and lets the coaches do what they do best. But when you're known for developing 90 mile an hour pitchers and every season making a deep run in a tournament, it's easy to see why he's so successful at Defiance High School. Tom held, when I hear the name Tom held in Defiance Baseball. I, I think of two things. State championships and pitching. Can you explain the defiance way? Well, first of all, it took a long time for state championships. Now previously in 92 when Greg did, some of 'em was the head coach defiance with the state champion in division one. And that was the meeting Cleo Stone and they knocked off the Upfield stone. The regionals made it down there. One, division, one, and, you know, obviously Defiance was not a big school. We were one of the smallest D ones at that time. And my first two years at Defiant, we were still D one, then we went down to D two. So like I said, I followed a, I wanted, I was in three grade programs. I never had to build any. And then, so that, that's very important to know. Never had to go in. And so it's, you know, so I've been cooking since what, nine meter eighties. 6 87 we made to the final four in Brian in 91. Made it to the Final four at Defiance in oh two. Made it to the final four in 2010. In oh two we lost to to Yeah. Steubenville two. The one group we had Chad billing the mob who was a first round pick, F1 to nothing. They him home on the, in the bottom of the sixth, and we didn't score on the seventh. I'm sorry, Ville was at, it was town. Town, nothing. And then in 10 we made the final four. And Craig, Kyle, and, and Jonathan, that was year, they wanted defeated. They they were, they were, they were better. They were the better team, that's for sure. So it was 13, we got our first one. So it was something though that Never drove me to win a state championship after you win, win one, though it you a little more cuz there's nothing like it. But until you experienced it, it was nothing I ever chased. And, and it was more about developing john Lowry, Jefferson High School, West Virginia, despite winning 12 state titles, wasn't afraid to listen to his players. He had a player who was willing to do what it takes to. Help the team win it all, even if it meant being pinch run for late in the game. Here's John Lowry State Tournament, and you could even probably go back to some of your regional tournaments. You know, games have stuck, jumped out at you both ways. You know, games that you've been fortunate to win by break games that, that you've lost by break. However, I guess the one that kind of jumps out at Peter Moes from a personal level in 1988 we won the state championship with my son pitching and my other son catching, and I think that that was the only time that you know that that's been done. We won a three to two game, but the key to that game is we're down two to nothing in the sixth inning and. I have a, one of my players who ended up playing professionally, his a pitcher he was just playing short off for us that day. He gets on first face and he looks over at me. He twirls his hand like, you know in the, in the running motion. And he, what he was saying to me was, he says, you want to run for me? Because he knew he, you know, he wasn't the quickest guy in the world. We had guys on at First and second when the next player hits the ball deep in the whole shortstop pitch runner I put in, he beats the force out at second and that kept standing alive. And I'm not sure that, you know, the kid that twirled his hands at me was, was gonna beat that play. Well that loads the bases. Then we get to a three, two count and we hit a like a Texas leaguer down the right field line with everybody running. And you know, the ball kind of kicks into foul territory and gets, gets away from the outfield. And we end up scoring three runs. We win the game three to two. Winning a state championship is a special moment for coaches who commit their lives to the profession of coaching high school baseball players. Sometimes great teams fall short, but that special bond between a player and coach is what matters most. Here's four time state champion and two time runner up. Chris Kasmar of Walsh Jesuit High School. And for me it's, it's most about the relationships with the kids and helping whether it's your. Doing your best to to give them the tools necessary to be their best. And it, I I, I have always believed that you wanna invest as much time as in your, in your best player as you do in your nine hole hitter or your role player. Guys on the bench because those moments and those big games you know, and, and one of the beautiful things about our sport is that anybody can be a hero in baseball. You know, the most important person on the team. When you're on offense is the guy in the batter's box. And ultimately that could be a starter. It could be a guy coming in. And so you need to prepare all of those guys, not just in season, but off season with the same amount of passion that you do with your, with your college bound athlete. And I think that over the years those, those relationships that we like to try to work to build on and off the field have really enabled us to. Create a culture where the kids are, are working hard for all 12 months. And that's, I think, been the key factor that's led to those, the success. We've had some very good teams after those teams, we haven't made it. To, to Columbus since 2010. But still have had several teams that were every bit as good as some of those teams that did go, eventually go on. You know, I think that the years from 2011 to now have just made me appreciate those years where we were fortunate enough. Caught a couple of breaks in some instances, a couple of bounces went our way. I mean, a couple of those teams, we were down to our last out a couple of times and just really, it broke our way and we made it and ended up winning. A couple of the teams that we've had since then have been, it's gone. The, the ball's gone, the, the wrong bounces and just haven't made it back. So it's made me appreciate those trips even more. But our approach has really stayed pretty similar here in the past 10, 15 years, just in terms of our relationships and our belief system and and, and our, our goals in terms of seeking our best. There you have it. If you've enjoyed this episode of The Athlete One Podcast and would like to hear more from these great coaches, these are all excerpts. From the 71 episodes that we've produced here on The Athlete One Podcast, you can go to episode 66 for Coach Fitzgerald, episode 55 with Coach Lowry, episode 43, which Coach Haffen, episode 30 with Coach Tom held. Episode four with Coach Chris Kasmar go to our back catalog to hear more great stories from the Athlete One podcast. Also hit the subscribe button and leave us a review. It helps us to grow the show. This episode of The Athlete One Podcast was powered by. The Netting professionals improving programs one facility at a time. Contact them today at 8 4 4 6 2 0 2 7 0 7. That's 8 4 4 6 2 0 2 7 0 7. And as always, thanks for listening.