Thursday, September 30, 2010

Catching Up With Cole Catalano

Inside Lions Baseball recently sat down with former Lion pitcher and recent Southastern Louisiana graduate Cole Catalano for a lil Q&A chat.  Cole just completed his first head coaching stint this past summer, as he led the Bill Hood Broncos to a 33-7 record and a 6th place finish in the Connie Mack World Series.  Just as he did as a player, Cole coaches with a passion for all of those involved with his team.

Here is the Q&A.

ILB:  Get us caught up on what the Lion Nation’s favorite player has been doing since graduating in May and finishing up your playing career for the Green and Gold.

Cole:  Well once our season was finished I can honestly say the next week was really a tough one for me. Ya see, it finally sank in that I was no longer a player of the game of baseball.  After 20 years of playing the game I love…..”I was officially retired” haha.  On the other hand I knew I wasn’t completely done with baseball because I was offered a job coaching the Bill Hood Broncos.

ILB:  For those in the Lion Nation who are not familiar with the Bill Hood Broncos, give them the background of the team.

Cole:  The Bill Hood Broncos are a high school travel baseball team consisting of mostly graduating seniors that have received scholarships to play baseball in college. It is a program that started in the early 90’s and has won 5 national championships. There have been several hundred players that have continued to play baseball at the collegiate level, and nearly 50 players that have signed contracts to play professional baseball. Being thought of to coach a team with the history, tradition, and as many accomplishments Bill Hood has achieved was quite the honor.

ILB:  What were the Bill Hood team accomplishments this year?

Cole:   As a team we had accomplished quite a few things that I am very proud of. The twenty players that I had were very coachable and really bought into what I was telling them. They outplayed every team we matched up against and the results definitely showed. Some of the things we accomplished were:
  • Finished with a 33-7 record
  • Perfect Game/East Cobb Invitational Champions
  • South Plains (Ft. Worth) Regional Champions
  • Connie Mack World Series (Farmington, NM) 6th Place Finish
  • 15 of our 20 Players will Play at the Collegiate Level in 2011
  • 3 Players were Selected in the 2010 Major League Baseball Draft

ILB:  How did you handle the adjustment from being a player to being a coach?

Cole:   To be honest the transition from player to coach was not as difficult as I thought it would be. Since I was 15 years old I was always told by my coaches,teammates and friends that I was going to make a great coach one day. I truly believe it is what I was born to do.

ILB:  It has only been one summer, but what coaching style are you developing and who has influenced it the most?

Cole:  I would have to say my father has influenced me the most with both my playing and coaching careers. He has been coaching baseball for the past 30 years. He has that old school coaching style that you really do not see anymore. He preaches to all of his players how to not only be great ball players on the field, but how to be great students in the classroom and polite and respectful young men in the community. Coach Artigues has definitely had a major impact on my baseball career as well. The way he coaches the game of baseball is really a sight to see. He puts a lot of emphasis on the little things of the game that really go along way.  Which is why he has been so successful at every school he has coached at. I am one hundred percent confident he will get Southeastern into a regional very soon and win it convincingly.

ILB:  As Bill Hood made its run through the regional and earned a berth in the World Series what was going through your mind?

Cole:  This is a good question…when we were in Ft. Worth for the regional the average temperature was around 107 degrees. I knew we had the best team going into the regionals with the best chance of advancing to the World Series. My only concern was the heat and if that was going to be the excuse/reason why we did not play to our full potential. As we advanced through the tournament and got to the final day I will be honest and say I was very nervous, but I knew there was no way we were going to lose. There was some stiff competition in the regional with pitchers throwing in the mid 90’s and hitters hitting the ball a ton. It was a great experience for the guys because they also had a chance to play in front of 50 or so college and professional scouts.

ILB:  What was your message to your team after winning the Regional?

Cole:  Throughout the summer I kept preaching to the guys how incredible the Connie Mack World Series truly is.  I went as a player for Bill Hood in 2003, so I got experience it firsthand.  It was, and still is to this day, the greatest week of my life.  After we clinched a berth to the World Series I could not say enough to the guys of how proud I was of them and how they put themselves in a position to be World champions.  The main thing I kept preaching to them was not to be satisfied with just getting to the World Series. We needed to keep working hard and finish the summer off in style by becoming World Champions.

ILB:  What was your message to your team after being eliminated from the World Series?

Cole:  Once were eliminated from the World Series I took the players in the outfield and really broke down when telling them how proud I was of them. I told them how they just went toe to toe with the best in the country and had a lot to be proud of. Although we did not achieve our ultimate goal of winning the World Series, we still accomplished things other teams can only dream of doing. Like I said it was even tough for me to talk to the players after the game because I knew it was the last time we would all be together that summer. You become so attached to the players you wish you could have just one more year with them. I had the ultimate respect for each and every one of the players. As a first year coach at the age of 23 and my players being 17 and 18 years old, it could have been easy for them to show no respect and not listen to me.  But they all bought in to what I was telling them and played every game like it was their last.  That is why we had the summer we did.  I told them from day one….”I am not going to demand your respect, I will earn it.”

ILB:  You had mentioned that while coaching Bill Hood you have been able to talk with collegiate coaches throughout the south. How was that experience?

Cole:  As a kid growing up you think of these college coaches as celebrities or heroes. I can remember when I was younger thinking Skip Bertman and Rick Jones were just as popular as the president. Now as a coach I have them calling me and I am calling them as they recruit for the upcoming season.  It’s pretty surreal because as a player you always wondered about the process of a college coach recruiting a player.  Now I see it first hand and I was actually assisting them in doing so which was pretty cool.

ILB:  And to finish this off since we all know the comedian you are. How did you handle the Bill Hood team comedian?

Cole:  I wouldn’t say there was just one comedian on the team. Every one of the players had that laid back personality with a good sense of humor. Everyone got along which is what made my first year coaching experience so enjoyable.

1 comment:

Dick said...

Hi Cole this is Uncle Dick and I'm proud that your doing so well in baseball.I lost one year because of a forfit game of going to the Connie Mack World Series and that was real hard to take.Keep teaching them the fundamentals of the game thats what wins games the little things that don't show up in the box score.Teach them how to bunt and move the runners along for the team.I pitched for 18 years myself and I vow I'll never run again after wind sprints and hot boxes seemed like forever thats why golf is wonderful and I practice 5-6 days a week.I will be coming your way soon and maybe we can play some golf with Chad and your dad. Keep doing what your doing it must be right with your results.Talk to you later.