Baseball Coach Provides New Angle For Players

By D.C. Miles
Junior Editor

tv Sports reflection 10dbMONTICELLO – Mindset change in training, technique and game day results provide a new angle for Boll Weevil baseball.

   Currently in his third season, John Harvey, head baseball coach, was hired as head coach upon arrival.

   Before coming to the University of Arkansas at Monticello, Harvey said he worked as head coach at Henderson State University’s baseball program for six consecutive seasons. He began coaching at the college level at Itawamba Community College in Mississippi as an assistant coach in the baseball program.

   “I felt it was a better chance to win. I think it was better to get the players their chance to win. When this opportunity presented itself, I think it was better for me at the time – I like working here,” Harvey said.

Day-to-day Progress in Athleticism and Maturity

   “You know when you have forty plus guys on the roster it’s really hard to specialize,” Harvey said. “We try to do that as much as possible because I do think individual instruction is important. But, as far as our day-to-day focus, the strength program is a big part of what we do so we’re really focused on that.”

   Harvey said he believes this program is not comparable to typical college baseball teams.

   “We’re not looking ahead to anything … we’re staying in the present,” he said.

   He said the program is geared to make the players stronger and more powerful, a display of advanced athleticism. Harvey said the more athletic the team becomes, then the better team he will have.

   Harvey said the program practices in a six week period in the off-season  He said, outside of team practice, they split into groups of six players to break things down within those specific players’ techniques. They also have individual work sessions.

   “We also lift weights and we train for the entire fall – that’s a big part of what we do,” he said.

   He said the program also affects maturity through athleticism.

   “You have to take accountability for yourself. You know how you’re supposed to hit even when you’re not at practice, and that helps you get better,” Danny Loya, senior outfielder said.

   Loya said the coaches are there to help the players improve and not just to keep up.

   “We’re all grown men, and we shouldn’t have to be looked over. The coaches don’t have to be there for us to become better at baseball,” Loya said.

   Harvey said he talks about goals in the first meeting of the year.

   “Our goals, of course, are winning conference championship and competing for a regional, but honestly after that we really don’t talk about it anymore. We focus on a day-to-day task of just getting better. To me that’s one of the strengths of our team right now,” Harvey said.

   Comparing last year to this year, he said the team collaborated and learned from past misconceptions in progress athletically.

   “Our attitudes are ten times different than last year. I feel like last year there was a lot of false hustle – false energy at certain points of the year,” T.J. Cox, senior infielder said.

   Cox said each player comes and ‘gets after it’ every single day. He said it makes him excited for the season.

   Harvey said one of his biggest goals is to change the culture of the program.

   “You want that to change right away, but realistically, in the back of your mind, you know it’s going to take a couple of years,” Harvey said.

   Harvey said he felt as if the senior players on the team, after playing on the team last year, should be aware of the expectations. Therefore, these players make the jobs of the coaching staff easier since they hold younger team members accountable.

   “The culture has changed and everyone knows what to expect. The new guys just kind of follow them,” he said.

Upcoming Season

   Harvey said being a strong team within strong conference, UAM aims to beat out the competition, specifically Southern Arkansas University.

   Harvey, however, said he treats every level of competition the same.

   “There’s no reason to treat them differently than anyone else. You have to play as good as you can every weekend,” Harvey said.

   He said the Boll Weevils open up the season in Houston, Texas at Minute Maid Park – home of the Astros – to play other teams that consist of potential and typical regional qualifiers. The first four games will be played there.

   He also said this includes around 30 of the top teams in the division. He also said how playing at the event will show UAM baseball where its team compares in competitiveness right away.

   Harvey said the Boll Weevils then come home to open up the next weekend for home games. Two weekends later, the team will open up for conference games.

   “I think we play five conference home series and four away conference series. So it’s pretty equal in home and away games,” Harvey said.

Individual Player Highlights

   Harvey says there are several players who could easily make a case for being the team’s best player.

   He said UAM baseball returns its best hitter, Hunter Allday, senior first baseman. Two all-conference players also hit the fit this season, comprising of Loya and Taylor Eaves, senior infielder.

   Harvey said new position players include Ben Agredano, junior infielder at shortstop; transfer from Louisiana Tech Bronson Gillam, sophomore pitcher and Stephen Martinez, junior outfielder.

   Pitchers returning comprise of Kenny Marshall, senior right-handed pitcher and Chris Guzman, senior right-handed pitcher.

   He said new players who might have a shot at being in the rotation include Bobby Bryan, senior left-handed pitcher; Jeff Harvill, sophomore left-handed pitcher; Zach McKnight, freshman right-handed pitcher; and several others.

   “I’m leaving some guys out that probably shouldn’t be left out, but there are several other guys that will factor in,” he said.

New Facilities and Faculty Support

   “We get really good support from the administration here and the athletic director. I think one of the goals of theirs was to improve the image of the baseball program. They have really proven that they wanted to do that,” Harvey said.

   He said, in recent years, the school reconstructed the surface of the baseball field. The school is currently in the process of replacing both dugouts, back stop and bleachers. Harvey said the look of the field will be completely different than ever before, if not absolutely better.

   Harvey said everything being done to revamp the facility will provide a better quality experience for the players, the audience and the game overall.

   “We’d like to get as many people as we can to the games. We’re going to do some things for kids, which we’ll announce that in January,” he said.

   He said he is really trying to work on the atmosphere of game day, so that people will enjoy themselves.

   Harvey said he is thankful for the school’s participation in helping the program become more successful in all aspects.

   “I’m just really appreciative to be here. I think it makes your job better when you know you’re coming to work every day, and you know you have the support of the athletic director and Dr. Lassiter. The thing is that people that have been here, faculty that has been here a long time, I think we forget how great it is to work at a place where everyone seems like they’re on the same team,” he said.

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