February 4, 2014
Feature on Mercer's Chesny Young
CBI Atlantic Sun Preview
Innings with Tim Montez
By Sean Ryan
serving as an assistant coach for 27 years, Tim Montez has
finally reached the top as head coach at Jacksonville.
Montez was an assistant at
Pepperdine (his alma mater), UC Santa Barbara, Cal State
Northridge, Arkansas, Fresno State and Jacksonville.
Montez took time to answer
our questions about his new position and about the Dolphins
First Inning - After more than two decades as
a college assistant, how does it feel to finally to be a head
coach for the first time?
It’s exciting. I look forward to the challenge.
I’ve been blessed over my 23 years at the Division I level and
27 years overall to have been around some great programs and
great coaches. The opportunity to have been around Coach
Alexander the past eight years has been very beneficial to me.
I’ve had opportunities over the years to be a head coach, but
for whatever reason I wasn’t able to take those opportunities,
but now I have been blessed to have this opportunity and I am
excited and I’m ready to go. I know there will be challenges,
but that all comes with the territory.
Inning - The man you replace, Terry Alexander, guided the
Dolphins to more than 700 wins and 10 NCAA tourneys. What did
you learn about being a head coach from him?
Probably the biggest thing I have learned about
being a head coach from Coach Alexander was it is about
relationships. He built relationships over 30-plus years here at
JU and just the way you go about treating people on a daily
basis. The other thing is, he gave me as his associate head
coach a lot of responsibility and I thought he did a good job of
delegating and having a vision for what he wants with his
program. So the key components that I learned from him, was
number one, relationships, and number two, having a vision for
the program and letting your assistants teach and do their jobs,
so they feel they like they have some ownership, instead of
giving them a fungo, and having them throw BP every day.
Third Inning - While being redshirted at
Pepperdine, you coached pitchers at a local high school.
Describe that experience. Did you know right then that you
wanted to coach?
Yeah, you know my high school coach, Mike Curran,
from Esperanza High School in Yorba Linda, California, was a big
influence on me. He is in the National High School Hall of Fame
and he was the one that actually got me into coaching and he was
a big influence. You know I redshirted that one year and I used
to drive all the way from Pepperdine back home which was about
an hour and 15 minutes away. I worked with the pitchers and
coach Thursday through Saturday or Sunday, and get back in time
Sunday night to go to class Monday through Thursday morning. He
kind of got into my ear and I understood the impact he had on me
and my fellow teammates as far as on the baseball field but also
off the baseball field. So, that was my first introduction to
coaching, I kind of knew that that was probably something I
would look into when I finally hung up my cleats.
Fourth Inning - You broke into college
coaching when Andy Lopez hired you at Pepperdine. And you later
coached for Norm DeBriyn at Arkansas. What was it like coaching
for those two coaches?
Well, Andy Lopez, I owe a lot to because he gave
me my first opportunity to coach at a Division I level when he
took over the Pepperdine program which is my alma mater.
Probably the biggest thing I learned from him was if you were
going to be a good coach you need to have a handle on the
pitching. I think he is probably one of the better pitching
coaches in the entire nation. The other thing that had a big
impact on me was his conviction and his intensity. That
competitiveness and competitive spirit that he brought every day
to practice and the way he challenged his players. Those were
some real quality traits that I picked up from Andy when I was
with him my first couple years of coaching at the college level.
Norm DeBriyn, another Hall-of-Fame coach, really has had a huge
impact on my life not only on the baseball field but off the
field. He really taught me about family, about relationships,
about having a great faith in our Lord, and just the way that he
treated people and the respect he got from his peers just a
tremendous person and a lot of those things; his values and the
way that he handled his players and the people around his
program I have tried to instill here in the past six months
since I’ve taken over here at JU.
Fifth Inning - Entering this World Series, a
player you had coached had been on a World Series roster for
seven years in a row. Anyone in this year’s World Series? Can
you name the others and name the one or two players who had to
work the hardest to get there.
I didn’t have anybody in this year, but some of
the others were Russ Ortiz, Brad Fullmer, Eric Hinske, Michael
Young, Cliff Lee, Barry Zito, Adam Kennedy, Doug Fister, those
are some of the guys I have had the pleasure to recruit or coach
that have been in the World Series over the years. I think the
one that really has had to work the hardest to get there was
probably, I would say, Russ Ortiz. Russ was a young man I
coached in high school at Montclair Prep in Van Nuys, California
and wasn’t really heavily recruited out of high school. We got
him a scholarship to Oklahoma; he was under a great pitching
coach and dear friend of mine, who is now passed away, Vern
Ruhle. Russ had to grind and work his way up and just really do
all the things that you need to do as far as competing at the
Major League level and he made the most of all of his
opportunities at each stop. He ended up having a pretty solid 12
year career in the major leagues, but you know, he was a grinder
and just a good young man with tremendous faith and tremendous
character. It was great to see him develop over the years and
finally reach the World Series versus the Angels back in 2002. I
know Brad Fullmer was on the Angels and they both were teammates
at Montclair Prep, so that was a neat World Series when Russ was
with the Giants playing against the Angels.
Inning - What are some of your immediate goals for the Dolphins?
Some of my immediate goals for the Dolphins would
be just to get the players to trust each other and just to show
up every day giving the absolute best effort they can on and off
the field. I never talk about winning. I have taken a page out
of John Wooden’s playbook as far as doing things the right way
and doing your best every single day. I think if you can build
that locker room culture where they can trust you as a head
coach and trust your coaching staff, they are going to be a
little more receptive and have that trust that it takes to be a
close-knit team on and off the field. I want us to be
competitive, I want people to come away and say, “Man that JU
Dolphins; boy they play hard every out, they don’t take a pitch
off and they handle themselves in a first-class manner.”
Seventh Inning - Where are areas of
improvement for Jacksonville?
We definitely need to improve our depth. We took
a hit in our recruiting the last two years because of the rumors
of Coach Alexander retiring, which is a normal thing whenever
that happens. But, we really have to get back on track
recruiting-wise. Our new recruiting coordinator, Chuck Jeroloman,
is heading that effort along with my lead assistant Chris Hayes
and volunteer assistant Alex Swenson. We’ve got a good solid
2014 class coming in and we already have a jump on the 2015
class. But we need the depth in the infield positions and of
course, the way college baseball is, we’ve got to have arms to
work with. So those are probably the two biggest things as far
as on the field and then were just going to try to improve our
facilities that way we can keep up with the Jones’ and compete
on the national level. We have new leadership at the top with
new AD Brad Edwards and new President Tim Cost (who is a former
JU player). So I am excited for the future of JU academics and
Eighth Inning - What are three things you look
for when recruiting pitchers?
Three things I look for recruiting pitches are
they have to have arm action that as a coach you can work with
and have the ability to repeat their delivery. The second thing
I look for is their mound presence; how they go about competing
from pitch to pitch. And then third, the ability to spin a
breaking ball or have some type of deception and whether they
have a fast ball that has any decent movement on it. The pitch
that I have taught over the years at every program I have been
at has been a two-seam fastball or a sinker, whatever you want
to call it, but definitely those areas are what I try to dial
into. Then once you get them on campus, you just try to refine
them and give them a direction and path to follow and give them
the best opportunity to sign a professional contract after their
junior year. A good example of that was our ace last year, Chris
Anderson, who was the Dodgers 18th pick of the first round.
Ninth Inning - What are the most common fixes
young pitchers need to make/learn as they transition from high
school to college pitchers?
The Number 1 thing that I have seen over the
years is the ability to get to the next pitch, to stay in the
moment, and then to be able to repeat their delivery and to have
the ability to have a strong front side and have the ability to
trust the process and work out front with all their pitches. You
get a lot of young high school pitchers that come in right away
that don’t trust the process and they want to see the result of
the pitch before they finish executing it. A lot of times that
leads to a pitcher flying open and having a quick top half. Just
to understand that it is a process and they need to trust their
stuff and only worry about the result of the pitch after they’ve
done everything they can after executing the pitch. But those
are probably the top things they need to work on from the high
school level to the college level.
(photos courtesy of JU Media