Sept. 11, 2012
Innings with Chris Pollard
By Phil Stanton
of the new head coaches in the ACC is Chris Pollard (left), who
takes over at Duke.
Pollard posted a record of 244-210-2 in eight
seasons at Appalachian State, including six consecutive 30-win
campaigns. The Mountaineers won 10 games in 2004 and 10 a year
later in Pollard’s first season before posting 24 wins in 2006.
ASU compiled a school-record 41 victories this past season, as
Pollard was named 2012 Southern Conference Coach of the Year.
The Mountaineers were one win away from capturing the
Charlottesville Regional, falling to Oklahoma twice on the final
Prior to his arrival at Appalachian State,
Pollard rebuilt the program at Pfeiffer. The Falcons won a
school-record 41 victories in his fifth and final season.
Pollard played at Davidson from 1993-96, becoming
the third pitcher in program history to collect 20 career
victories. He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1996
and received a master’s degree in physical education/health
education from Mississippi State in 2004.
Along with assistants Josh Jordan, Andrew See and
Mark Hayes, Pollard will look to rebuild the Blue Devils.
Pollard recently took time to answer our questions.
First Inning – What made the Duke position
attractive to you?
The opportunity to be a part of one of
the best Universities in the world, while getting the chance to
coach in the ACC.
Second Inning – You have been known to build or rebuild
programs. What are the biggest challenges in making Duke a
In the short term, our biggest challenge is to catch up to the
rest of college baseball with respect to recruiting the top
players in the 2013 class. Duke is one of the most attractive
options in the country for that student-athlete that is looking
for an elite degree and the highest level of DI baseball. We
need to establish great relationships with the top high school
and travel/showcase teams so that we identify the Duke-caliber
student-athlete as early as possible.
Third Inning – How important will your experience as a
student-athlete at Davidson be in recruiting for the Blue
I think my experiences as a player at Davidson help me
relate to our current players. I understand the balance that
exists between academics and athletics at Duke. Also, the three
years I spent as an assistant at Davidson helped me gain an
understanding for the role the admissions office plays in
recruiting at a place like Duke.
Fourth Inning – You have worked with each of your assistants
in the past. What are the strengths of each coach?
This is without question the best staff that I have ever
worked with. Each guy is incredibly talented, but they also all
have great people skills. JJ is definitely the grinder of this
staff. The level of organization he brings to the recruiting
process is unparalleled. See is a tremendous evaluator of
talent, and does a great job of keeping guys loose and keeping
the atmosphere around the field light. Mark is a great teacher
of the game. He does a great job of slowing the game down and
keeping it simple for guys. I just try to stay out of their way.
Fifth Inning – Will the strength of the Southern Conference
help you in preparation for conference weekends in the ACC?
The Southern Conference is a great league. As a former
player, assistant and head coach in the Southern, I am very
proud of where the league sits on a national level. I have a lot
of great friends in the conference. That being said, there is a
reason the ACC is sending 7-8 teams a year to the NCAA
Sixth Inning – How familiar are you with the current coaches
in the ACC?
During my eight years at Appalachian we played most of the
teams in the ACC, so I have had the opportunity to coach against
a lot of these guys. I have also developed a lot of good
friendships within the ACC over the last several years. It was
humbling to sit around the table last week at our ACC coaches
meeting and see a lot of Hall of Famers in the room. There were
a lot of trips to Omaha represented in that group.
Seventh Inning – What did it mean for the Appalachian State
program to earn its first NCAA tourney bid since 1986 this past
We had pointed towards an NCAA tourney bid since 2006. At
the beginning of the 2011-12 school year, that team focused in
on its goals like no team I had ever been a part of. They were a
unique and special group of people. Not only did they achieve
their goal of reaching an NCAA regional, they had such a good
time along the journey. Last year was the most fun I had ever
had in my 30+ years in baseball. It was a season that I will
Eighth Inning – What did the series win at LSU in the second
weekend of the season do for the confidence of the Mountaineers?
I will never forget the look that team had in the fourth
inning of Game 3 of that series. We were ahead big and pulling
away. A lot of teams, when put in that environment, would have
started to play tight like they were waiting for something bad
to happen. That team never took its foot off the gas pedal; they
just kept pouring it on. Right then, I knew that team had the
makings of something really special.
Ninth Inning – What should we expect from the Blue Devils in
We are going to be loose and aggressive. From watching us in
four-man individuals, I think we have the elements to play
really solid defense, particularly around the infield. We plan
to turn guys loose on the bases and be opportunistic with our
(photo courtesy of Duke Media Relations Office)