In today's Dynamic Baseball Coaches Corner we head to Franklinton High School in North Carolina to sit down with Head Coach Ryan Whitney. In his 10th season has a varsity coach Whitney looks to lead a team who lost some of it's biggest pieces from last season. Behind the play of Dillon Sykora, Tyler Williams, Jalen Adams, Branson Capps and newcomer Chad Charron the Red Rams should make some noise in the Northern Carolina Conference. Please enjoy today's Coaches Corner with Franklinton Head Coach Ryan Whitney.
Coach's Name: Ryan Whitney
High School: Franklinton
City/State: Franklinton, NC
District/Conference: Northern Carolina (Conference)
School Mascot: Red Rams
How many years have you been coaching, and what got you into coaching?
I’m in my 13th year of coaching. This is my 10th year as a Varsity head coach.
I got into coaching because when I was in high school and college I always enjoyed working with younger players at various camps. I also saw it as an opportunity to help players at the high school level grow as players and people. Some of the most influential people in my life have been the coaches I had growing up. I wanted the chance to leave a positive impression on young men while hopefully helping them to get better and enjoy the game.
What would you say the most rewarding thing about being a baseball coach is?
It’s hard to narrow it down to just one thing. There are so many great things about being a coach. If I had to pick one it would be the chance to be a positive person in their life while teaching them the work and rewards that baseball requires and provides. Sports are so closely related to life that I see it as a chance to prepare them for life through the different things they learn in practice and games.
How do you balance the time demands of coaching, and being with your family?
For me it’s probably a little bit easier than many of my fellow coaches with spouses and children, but I am very close with my family so it can be difficult. We all know coaching can consume tremendous amounts of time. The main thing I try to do is put my full effort into baseball whenever I’m involved with it so that when I’m away I can focus my time and energy on my family and relationships. The people closest to me know the difficulties, so the best way I can repay them is to put 100% of my focus on the time we have when we have it.
Who is the best player you have ever coached, and who is the best player you have ever coached against and why?
The best player I’ve ever coached was Shawn Armstrong. He was called up by the Cleveland Indians last summer. He was very gifted from a physical standpoint, but has worked tremendously hard to take advantage of what he’s been blessed with.
There have been so many great players I’ve coached against, that’s a tough one. Probably Alex White. He had electric stuff and was a real competitor.
What does the term being a good teammate mean to you, and why is it important?
A good teammate is someone who understands that the accomplishments of the team outweigh the individual. Also someone who doesn’t mind doing what’s necessary regardless of the situation or game and who fully commits to the idea that whatever helps US is what needs to be done. I think it’s important because chances are if you fully invest in what the team needs you’ll be surprised how well your season or career turns out. The other reason is because when you’re a player who does whatever is asked, especially when you’re an older player, the entire program feeds off of your positive attitude. Everyone else believes a little more in the team and themselves.
What kind of team do you think you will have this year? Please list top players coming back, and top newcomers, and what do you feel they bring to the table, and why?
As always, it’s still too early to tell. We didn’t lose a lot of pieces, but those we lost were vital. The good news is we have a large number of returners who have been working hard in the fall and during the winter to ensure that the success of last year continues. We’ll lean heavily on our seniors from both a leadership and production standpoint.
Dillon Sykora – brings an intensity and competitiveness that the entire program feeds off of. Tough-minded player. Our leader.
Tyler Williams – can be dominant on the mound. Provides us with someone who can win anytime he’s got the ball in his hand. Tyler has worked very hard to improve on and off the field. I’m proud of his development.
Jalen Adams – provides us with a real competitor, particularly on the mound. Great kid who works very hard.
Branson Capps – has tremendous size and potential. Can be a top performer in our conference
Ricky Person – has the physical tools that cannot be taught. Really provides a spark to our team from a performance and effort standpoint. A competitor. Really looking forward to him having a great spring.
Top Newcomer – Chad Charron – has the versatility to play multiple positions. Was a late season call-up to varsity last year, and showed confidence not typically found in younger players. We’ll be looking for strong strides this year
Review your conference for us. Who will be your toughest opponent in your conference this season?
The toughest opponents in our conference will be defending 2-A state champion South Granville and another strong program and county rival Bunn High School.
What are some big match-ups on your schedule that stand out to you and why?
While the two I already mentioned are two of, if not, the biggest, we’re also looking forward to a rematch from last year’s playoffs with Carrboro HS and a trip to Greenville, NC for the Pitt County Classic over spring break.
What are your goals for you team this season?
First and foremost we want to play harder than anyone on our schedule. We want to be better today than we were yesterday, and we want to play for one another. Concerning actual numbers, we want to have a winning record on our away games, go undefeated at home, and be in the mix for the playoffs and conference championship
If you had a day away from the baseball field what would you spend it doing?
I have a new nephew, so I would probably spend time with him. If I’m just looking to relax, I’m watching a movie or catching a game somewhere, be it attending or on TV. Anything that involves spending time with my friends or family or doing something competitive is a good bet.
Give us a little preseason prediction. Who is going to win the College World Series this year, and who is your preseason pick to win the MLB World Series and why on both accounts?
For the CWS I really like Florida along with everybody else, but I also think Vanderbilt, Virginia and Louisville are going to be tough
World Series: my pick is the Detroit Tigers. Every year.