Coaches Box: Dan McDonnell
This interview was conducted by AthleticDirectorU and hosted by Bob Walsh, former Men’s Basketball Coach at the University of Maine. This Dynamic Leadership Podcast interview is being repurposed for Baseball Youth. You can listen to the full interview here.
BY: Now in baseball in particular, it’s a team sport, but with a huge individual dynamic. It’s batter versus pitcher. It’s one on one battles. What does leadership look like on the baseball field?
DM: We talk about that all the time. You know, in basketball, you can draw up a play get it to your best scorer. And in football you can draw up a play get it to your best playmaker. In baseball, it is one on one and and you’re in the batter’s box and it’s you against that pitcher. When you’re on defense, I can’t make the ball go to my best defensive player. If it’s hit to where you’re standing, you have to be able to make the play. So there’s a lot of what we call accountability with our players that they have to be accountable to themselves but everything that they’re doing has an impact on our team. And so you know, I think in all sports each athlete has to look in the mirror and go okay, how can I be my very best especially, in baseball, you being your very best and the impact that’s going to have on your teammates, so there’s an individual responsibility as an athlete and then you have to be accountable to your teammates.
BY: Now because of that individual battle that’s inherent to baseball, do you find some kids are inherently selfish or thinking about themselves first, hey, if I go 2 for 4 I had a good day, I helped the team?
DM: I think that’s normal. So we challenge our players. For me, it’s about how competitive are you and the more competitive you are, especially if you’re talking about individual, you’re in the batter’s box or the ball is hit to you, we preach the ability to compete. I don’t care if we’re playing ping pong, pool, video games are so popular, cards on the bus trips, and then between the lines all the things we’re doing out there. The more competitive you can get these kids to be, the more they can set themselves up to succeed and win and then it goes back to one of the first things I said you know when you’re about loving others and serving others, then you can look past the 2 for 4 and it doesn’t make you a bad person you feel good you went 2 for 4 I mean, it’s hard, hitting it’s hard so I think that you can have success as a hitter. I don’t ever get down on kids but ultimately it’s can you go 0 for 4, help your team win, and feel good about the win and I think the more these kids are around each other they grow they’re connected we talked about being accountable that ultimately, they love and care about each other so much that they put the team ahead of themselves.
BY: And as far as failure goes, is that something that you look for in recruiting?
DM: Well, it’s not something we’re hoping to happen, but it does happen. And you do take away from that, you know, you’re always anxious to see when a kid strikes out. Can you run out and play defense or is he going to make an error when he is 0 for 3 or 4? How does he handle it? Does he pulled his teammates down or can he lift them up? A guy will struggle and how is he around his teammates what we talked about love and serving. Is he one of the first out of the dugout? Is he excited when his team has success? We talk about the word mudita a lot and mudita is the joy in other people’s successes. Do you find joy when others succeed? I’ll see a pitcher sometimes who might be struggling, not having his best day on the mound. He comes in, his teams on offense. He’s the first guy out of the dugout when a guy crosses the plate or a guy scores and those are things you love to see, can you enjoy the success of others? Again, we go back to this as a team sport, a lot of individual skill but at the end of the day, one team wins and one team loses and and do you help your team win? Do you love to win? Are you a competitive person? Are you tough enough? And do you care about your teammates enough that it’s not about your individual stat line it’s ultimately about us winning?
*This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.