May 24, 2007
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A Special Breed
Post-Game Column By Rod Williamson
I tend to be an early-bird and some days I try to get in a quick run before the days starts moving too fast. A few weeks back, I started my jog around campus at about 6 a.m. and decided to see if our baseball strength and conditioning center was open rather than pound my aging knees on the hard pavement.
Who do I see by the new fieldhouse but Head Coach Tim Corbin, water hose in hand spraying off the entry area to the complex. A quick greeting and I go inside and finish my workout; 25 minutes later I am leaving and who is still tidying up but the Coach.
The baseball campus is immaculate. If you were to get inside the Commodore locker room you would think it just opened a week or two ago. It is that clean after two years of use but when there is a sign posted on the door asking players to remove their shoes before entering you understand why.
Attention to detail. It is a Tim Corbin hallmark and it is one of just a dozen good reasons why our baseball program is now the one everyone else wants to emulate.
I'm no Yankees fan but our team is clean-cut like the Bronx Bombers. Have you ever noticed that? Shoes polished, even if we're going to play in sloppy conditions. Hair cut, no loose shirt tails, everyone wearing their game pants at exactly the same ankle level - unless we are wearing those retro jerseys and then we're all at knee level.
When you pay this much attention to the small stuff, can you imagine how much time is spent on the bigger ticket items? Of course, our coaches have an unfair advantage with time because they probably average 18 hour days seven days a week.
I thought about these and other things as I watched David Macias cut down a Mississippi State runner at the plate with a perfect throw from center field, preventing the tying run from scoring and preserving a 3-2 Vanderbilt win in the Southeastern Conference tournament.
In the press conference, Macias said prior to his big play that he was "anticipating" the ball may come to him up the middle and he made an adjustment in his positioning.
Some may call that lucky but I know better. Our coaches have prepared our team so well that they are often thinking a step ahead and they are drilled to such a high standard that they usually come through as Macias' perfect strike to the plate proved today. Tim calls it visualizing success.
Corbin is a people person. Walking to a meeting on campus, Tim pauses to visit with a member of the plant operations staff; he calls the man by first name and they joke about the staffer working too hard. I once had a very veteran game operations person - a guy who had worked football, basketball and all other events installing communications equipment for 20 years - tell me Tim Corbin was the first head coach he had been around who knew his name and seemed interested and appreciative of his efforts.
It is really no wonder that Corbin recruits those blue chippers, wows audiences with his heart-felt stories or can motivate and discipline his team like almost no other. He is a special breed and because of that those of us in Black and Gold can walk just a little bit taller. Our national pastime is quickly becoming our own special pastime.