Date: March 15, 2019
By: Eric Leary
As the spring continues to progress for the game at various levels, Impact Baseball is going to take the opportunity to highlight some of the many quality high school coaches in the region. The hope is that these coaches get to share some aspects of their program and of themselves that allows us to connect how their love for the game translates to the culture they promote for developing their players both on and off the diamond.
First up for the series “On The Field” is David Houseton of Covenant Day School in Matthews, NC.
At this point of the 2019 season how would you say it’s going? Based on your pre-season expectations how is your team’s progress towards those goals it may have set?
This season is off to a wet and slow start. I feel good about where we are as a team with only two games played so far. I have felt good about this team’s chemistry coming into the season and I have seen that play a big part in our success in our first two games.
Weather is always an issue for baseball. This season has definitely presented some challenges. How have you adapted to the weather?
We are blessed to have a tarp here at Covenant Day School. We were able to get our tarp on early and save a few practices and one of our earlier games. The tarp has allow us to get on our field faster than normal and this had lead to great practices for us the last two weeks. But the rain has canceled at least four games that we had on our schedule. With all the water we have to used the yellow dimple balls for practices to save our baseballs from getting wet and utilizing our cages much more. On some days we are confined to using indoor space if available. Like most programs in our area this spring has been a challenge.
Who are the the players in your program going on to play at the next level? Also, who on your team deserves to get some attention from those looking for top players?
Jackson Bertelsen comes to mind. He is attending West Point to play baseball next year. He has went to Covenant Day his entire life and we are proud that he will play four years of baseball at Army. We also have Phillip Abner who is committed to Florida University as a left hand hitter. The guys that I think deserve some attention are: Cooper Andrews, Jon Rossi, Ben Walton, Robert Stone and Brenham Daniel to name a few. These players are outstanding people and can bring along to a college baseball program.
How long have you been the head baseball coach at Covenant Day? And what other stops or sports have you made on your coaching journey? Additionally, who have been some influences in your coaching development?
I have been the head baseball coach at Covenant Day for the past 10 years. Prior to coming to Covenant Day I spent eight years at Charlotte Christian. Throughout my coaching career I have coached football, and basketball. I have also coached travel ball for the past 19 years every fall and summer as well. The biggest influences have been Coach Greg Simmons at Charlotte Christian. He has been a tremendous mentor for me and I try to stay in contact with him as much as possible. Also, my experiences working with USA baseball has had a profound impact on my coaching develop as well. Over the past 18 years I continue to grow and attend our state coaching clinics and the ABCA. I don’t think you can ever stop learning and seeking knowledge.
Who have been some of the most memorable players and teams you’ve had the opportunity to coach? What makes them stand out?
My first year at Covenant Day was memorable. Those guys were the first and they help build the foundation that we have at Covenant Day now. This years Covenant Day team also stand-out for me. This team is loaded with leaders and guys that want flat out get better. This makes coaching them a joy on a daily basis. Our team chemistry is also at a all time high as well. Most of this is credited to the culture that we have built in our program which is about servant leadership and drinking out of the water hose. The water hose mentality is mental edge that we have established in our program here at Covenant Day.
Rivalries and competition can sometimes be intense. But good coaches recognize and appreciate an opponent who brings out the best in them. Which teams and coaches in your career have you found to be the most challenging to face?
I would say the rivalry for us is Charlotte Christian. We are the only two Christian schools in our conference. I also graduated from Christian and coached there for eight years. Also, my players know a lot of their players. This makes our games interesting and I know my guys look forward to playing them. Our conference is a challenge and with that said we have some great coaches in our fold. Mike Hennessy at Charlotte Country Day is sharp, Jim Cerbie at Providence Day is a wizard, Rod Rachel always gets the most of his teams, Greg Simmons “The Goat” always has one of the best teams in the state, and Kim Cousar has been coaching for a long time and it’s hard to get things past him on the field. I have been blessed to coach against these great men and have learned from them along the way. Each coach has seen so much making each conference game a challenge.
What is your favorite part of practice?
I would say the entire practice. The games belong to my players and the practice are my time. I like to remind myself that I have the best job in the world. Most people are stuck in an office at 2pm in the afternoon. I get to go play outside and coach baseball.
What is your favorite position or skill to coach? Favorite drill?
My favorite position to coach is infield. I played outfield in college so coaching the infield has been a challenge over the years. But learning and growing over the years I have been able to work with and develop my infielders for high level of play. I also like coaching my catchers as well. Another position that I never played but I work extremely hard to get the information and drills needed for my catchers to develop. My favorite drill is the Japanese Drill. I learned this drill from the Japanese Collegiate National Baseball team. They used my field this summer for practice. Basically, it’s a full team drill that covers just about every defensive situation you may encounter during a game. It’s fast paced and forces players to be alert and to execute the basic fundamentals we need for team defense.
What does your program do on game day that is unique or special?
What makes game days special is our devotions before each of our games. Outside of that our pregame is nothing normal from what you would see from other programs.
What is your favorite uniform and hat look for your program?
The favorite uniform for us would be the all- white uniforms with our pinwheel hat. We also like our all navy jersey, we can wear either our grey pants or white pants with that jersey.
What do you consider to be the best part of your facility at Covenant Day?
I would say our foul territory and our playing surface. We have a lot of space behind home plate and down the lines. Our playing surface is solid and this winter we had it resurfaced. We also enjoy a clubhouse attached to our 1st base dugout, this has been a great place for our team meetings and what we would consider the hub of our facilities.
- When your team is hitting – coach 3B or dugout? 3B Box
- When you give signals to hitters – signs or wrist bands? Signs
- When your guy hits a HR – high five or fist bump? I get pretty hyped up!
- When you are in uniform – ankle length pants or high socks? Ankle Length Pants
- When you reach in your back pocket – stopwatch or no stopwatch? Stopwatch
- When you are marking your field – chalk or painted lines? Painted Lines
What a great start to this new series on our high school coaches! A huge thanks to Coach Houseton for getting us going in the right direction. We here at Impact Baseball are wishing him and his program all the best as they continue through the spring!