THE RUSTY TEAM
Chris Curry, Head Baseball Coach @ Arkansas-Little Rock describes what he looks for when recruiting.
We rarely if ever look at a player’s stats, especially a high school player’s. We evaluate on athletic skill, body project-ability, and baseball talent. Above all, we evaluate a player’s character, work ethic, and use social media as a great tool for doing this. We do not use or take recommendations from recruiting services. We trust people who we have a personal relationship within baseball.
In his second season in 2016, Curry was named the Sun Belt Conference’s Coach of the Year.
Curry played his high school baseball at Conway High School and was an All-State pitcher and catcher for the Wampus Cats. He played two seasons at Meridian CC and was Baseball America’s No. 1-rated junior college prospect in the nation in 1998. He was the starting catcher for Team USA’s Junior College All-Star Team that same year.
Following two All-Miss-Lou Conference and All-Region 23 seasons at Meridian CC, Curry signed with legendary coach Ron Polk at Mississippi State. He led all SEC catchers in fielding percentage in 1999 before being chosen by the Chicago Cubs in the ninth round of the 1999 MLB Draft.
Curry’s selection by Chicago marked his fourth time being drafted. He was selected by the San Francisco Giants in the 26th round as a high school senior in 1996 and twice by the Detroit Tiger, first in the 17th round in 1997 and again in the 52nd round in 1998.
In the 2017 season, Coach Brisack will be entering his 18th year as the Edgewood College skipper . Brisack, the winningest baseball coach in Edgewood College history, has won three conference titles, taken the Eagles to two NCAA Division III National Tournaments, and finished one game from the World Series in 2005. The Eagles have only failed to play in post-season three times under Brisack’s leadership.
One thing becomes clear after speaking with Coach Brisack, he is looking for players who can handle adversity. “As much as we can, we try to know how a potential player is going to handle adversity” states Coach Brisack. “College is tough – the speed of the game is an adjustment, the speed of the academic work is an adjustment, the discipline it takes to balance new-found social freedom is an adjustment, the time commitments are an adjustment. Every college player will have to deal with failure and adversity. The good ones respond in a positive manner and get better. Since college baseball is not for every young man, we try to recruit the guys we believe, have the best skill set to handle adversity. This is the most difficult skill set we evaluate but, make no mistake, it is a developed skill set in any young man.”
Not only must his players be able to handle adversity, Coach Brisack is looking for quality individuals to be a part of his program. He believes his success as a team will always be determined by the quality of the individuals in the program and their belief in common principles and goals. According to Edgewood college, under Brisack the Eagle baseball teams have also taken a great deal of pride in giving back to the community. Whether they are speaking to an elementary school class or mentoring high school students, Brisack encourages his student-athletes to make a difference in the world around them. Brisack’s Eagles are very active with local youth baseball programs
TheRustyArm: When do you start the recruiting process?
Coach Brisack: We don’t start the active recruiting process until spring of the junior year. We can’t help but identify players prior to that from camps, games, etc. We will make note of these kids and watch their progress. However, we want to see how they handle the adversities and challenges of high school and a varsity program. Boys grow later than girls so, we want to give a player the chance to develop a bit and see if he has a love for the game or plays for a different reason. We also believe in recruiting to our specific team needs. We want our recruits to come into our program with an idea of what our plan may look like for them as a ballplayer, student and young man. We don’t believe we can honestly have these conversations until about the middle of their junior year spring or summer. In today’s recruiting climate, this may mean we lose out on one or two guys but, we believe the benefits for our program our staff and our ball players far outweigh any drawbacks with our philosophy.
TheRustyArm: What is one thing that would surprise parents and players to know about college baseball?
Coach Brisack: As an NCAA Division III institution located in a Division III Baseball hotbed (Upper Midwest), there are two things that we hear a lot when we talk to parents and players. The first is how competitive the majority of Division III baseball programs are – we have really good baseball players and teams at this level. The second is how little money there actually is in our sport (scholarships). In all levels of college baseball. I think this one is simply folks wanting to believe something and not doing their due diligence to know the facts.
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