Interview with UNC Pitching Coach Bryant Gaines
By: Trey Daly
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I always get fired up to talk to The University of North Carolina Pitching Coach Bryant Gaines! Coach Gaines has been around North Carolina baseball for quite some time and has an inside track of the success. Check out the interview below.
Trey: Take us back to your playing days at North Carolina under Coach Mike Fox, how has that shaped you into the person you are today?
Coach Gaines: I wouldn’t be who I am today without having played for Coach Fox at North Carolina. He taught us how to be disciplined, how to be a team player, and how to compete in everything you do. I’m very fortunate to have played for such a tremendous coach and leader.
Trey: Looking back on your days as a player in Chapel Hill, what’s one thing that sticks out to you?
Coach Gaines: There are so many games, wins and special moments that I’ll always remember, but the thing that sticks out the most to me is how fortunate I was to have had such a great college experience because of so many incredible people around me. It’s something that you can’t put a price on. I had incredible teammates and was surrounded by an incredible support staff at UNC. So many people are there to support you and help you improve. Its something that we are really proud of still today.
Trey: You have been to Omaha numerous times as a player and a coach. Describe that feeling for people out there?
Coach Gaines: Its incredible. It’s an experience that we want every player in our program to be a part of, and we’re passionate about doing all we can to get back each year. You’re competing against the best in the country on the biggest stage, and the entire country is watching. Its what you dream about as a kid. I don’t think there’s anything like it in all of sports.
Trey: You have coached with some great people (Mike Fox, Scott Jackson and now Scott Forbes), what’s one constant with all three of them?
Coach Gaines: There are so many similarities in each of them, but the biggest has to be how much they care about their players. They’re all incredibly disciplined and competitive coaches, but they all want the best for each kid they coach. Sometimes it can be hard to see as a young player, but players always understand why they’re so tough on them as they get older. Its not just about being a baseball player, its also about preparing you to be a husband, father, and leader once you leave college.
Trey: What’s the biggest thing you have learned since being a college coach?
Coach Gaines: How important communication is between players and coaches. We try to talk to our guys often, meet with them often, spend as much time with them on the field as we can, and always leave our office doors open if they have anything they need to run by us. Kids nowadays have so many things on their plate that weren’t there 5-10 years ago, so we really try to get to know our players so that we can help them in any way possible.
Trey: When you’re out watching potential Tar Heels, what’s one thing you are looking for?
Coach Gaines: Resilience. How good are you when you aren’t good? Do you still compete even when nothing has gone right around you or you don’t have your best stuff, or your swing doesn’t feel good that day. How do you help your team win when you aren’t having a great day at the plate or on the mound? Are you pulling for your teammates? We want tough kids, and they’re hard to find. Everybody is good when they’re good, but the ones that help you win games are the ones that can bring you something even when they aren’t playing well individually.
Trey: When you hear the following names, what comes to mind?
Jesse Wierzbicki – The ultimate competitor
Angel Zarate – The same guy everyday, no moment too big.
Levi Michael – One of the best shortstops to ever play at UNC
Garrett Gore – A great player, even better teammate
Brandon Riley – One of the toughest players ever at UNC.
Trey: If you have one day off from baseball, what would you do?
Coach Gaines: I’d spend all day with my wife and daughter doing whatever they want to do.