My Revival (Part II)

Coaching Absolutes
By Dave Turgeon

View Part 1 here.

DAN MCDONNELL and The Power of Team (1+1=3)
Bringing a room together is challenging. I have been on the player side at many levels and won rings, where it is an amazing feeling when this happens. I have also been on the leadership side, where you are charged to make it happen. Getting a group to believe in "team" (especially in the time of social media) is a great challenge. I have failed at this and found some success after realizing this does not happen organically, as we all may believe. Maybe the best I have seen at doing it in an incredibly short period of time is Dan McDonnell. It is no accident his teams are in the top five in the country yearly. It was inspiring to witness what he did with a highly touted group of college players (many of whom were first rounders) over six weeks to pull them together. It was daily, intentional, while coupled with a tough schedule on foreign soil. He had everyone pulling on the same rope and in the same direction, playing for the USA on the front and for each other. I took so much from that, and when arriving at IMG in January and games beginning in February, I went right to it.

Building cohesion was not one of the things but THE thing. Revival nugget number three: Building a team is intentional work/action, and when synergy kicks in, the forces of a team cannot be stopped. The “how” of this was multi-faceted between classroom sessions, video sessions, speed dating sessions, on-field training, and even love language test-taking, as well as lots of connecting via conversations and text threads, to name a few. The Gray team won their last 14 games, and Mikey and I got out of the way and just watched somewhere early in the streak. Somewhere in there, when Eli would bring the group together and break it down at the end of practice and games, it went from "IMG on 3, 123 IMG!" to "Family on 3,123 Family!" That was the moment they became a team. It became their team.

What is funny is that the players were so freed up and feeding off each other they began holding each other accountable and beat some highly touted teams along the way. Some players pulled me aside and said they wished we could keep playing. Truth be told, that will choke up any coach or parent, and I was honest when I said I wish we could too. The power of "team" allows everyone's skills to play up in an extraordinary way. "Team" is a force multiplier!!

Depth Year
I received an email from a friend a couple of years back, and it spoke of having a depth year. Put simply, the email talked about not getting more books but rereading the ones you have and learning them more deeply. It also talked about doing some of the things you did well and drilling down on them while improving and refining them more. Going along with that thought comes revival nugget number four; Albert Einstein was quoted as saying, "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." I did not intend 2021 to be a depth year, but that is what it became. At this level, there is you, the pitching coach, and go get 'em! Because of this and the level, it allowed me to dive into all areas more deeply and break things down into more edible pieces. The reality is, this has made me a better coach because it was a place I needed to be anyway. This game is hard enough on its own. The player should not need a translator when his coach speaks. "Say less, but say more," or should I say, "say less and say it simply!"

Stay tuned for Part 3, coming May 19, 2022.

Dave Turgeon is a contributor to the USA Baseball Develops Blog and is currently the National Team Head Coach at IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL. Turgeon played in the New York Yankees farm system from 1987-1990 under Stump Merrill and Buck Showalter after being drafted out of Davidson College. Before playing for the Baltimore Orioles’ AAA affiliate in 1998 he spent eight years playing abroad. From 2000-2002 Turgeon began managing in the Cleveland Indians organization before entering the college ranks where he coached with Boston College, the University of Connecticut, Duke University, and Virginia Tech. He spent the next 11 years managing and being the Coordinator of Instruction for the Pittsburgh Pirates Organization. He is also in the St. Bernard High School Athletics Hall of Fame as well as the Davidson College Athletics Hall of Fame. Recently, Turgeon was named to the 100 Year Anniversary Team for the Southern Conference.