Whether you're coaching at a top-25 school or running a D-III program, coaching at the collegiate level comes down to education and baseball instruction.
Former UCLA baseball legend Gary Adams shares his strategies for running a top-notch college baseball program and offers suggestions that coaches at any level can use to help their players reach their potential.
The Bruin Way
After 30 years as a head baseball coach, (25 at UCLA), it is my opinion that college baseball players enter a university with three primary goals: to graduate, to improve their baseball skills to the extent that they can perform in the major leagues and to win national championships.
My job as the head coach at UCLA is to help them achieve all three goals. This is how we strive to reach these goals at UCLA.
Goal No. 1: Graduate
Of the players who have competed for four seasons, around 80 percent of my former players graduated. Obviously, the 129 players who signed professional contracts prior to completing their education lower that rate, but many of them came back in the off-season to earn their degrees.
I wish I could say 100 percent of our players have graduated, as then I would be totally satisfied. At UCLA, we do everything possible to assist the student-athletes in the pursuit of their degrees.
My players know I take their education seriously, as I insist that they attend classes, require every new player to attend study hall and make sure that they see their tutors and counselors.
In recent years, I have encouraged my former players who have signed professional contracts prior to graduation to take advantage of UCLA's "Final Score Program", a special program initiated by the UCLA Athletic Department that encourages our former athletes to return to school and earn a UCLA degree.
Tim Leary, Don Slaught and Eric Karros are three of the many players who returned to school and graduated because of this outstanding program. Every player who has ever played for me knows that I am dedicated to helping them graduate.
Goal No. 2: Get Them Ready for the Majors, Even if They Never Make It
The facts speak for themselves. During my last decade as a coach, no school in America has had more players in the major leagues. In 1998, 14 of my former players competed in the major leagues.
In 1991, 20 former Bruins were on major league rosters. Of those 20, only six were drafted out of high school. Fifteen of our former players have been selected in the first round (including secondary phase) of the draft. I am proud of these facts. It is a tribute to our system and to all of the outstanding assistant coaches who have tutored players at UCLA.
I am not just satisfied with getting my players signed professionally. I want them to fulfill their dreams of playing in the major leagues.