Coaching Management 23.2

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6 Coaching Management Preseason 2015 3 QUESTIONS When Chris Pollard took over as the Head Baseball Coach at Duke University in 2012, he didn't have to look far to find a blueprint for rebuilding the once-struggling program. With an office located inside Cameron Indoor Stadium, Pollard is constantly rubbing shoul- ders with some of the country's brightest coaching minds. And he's taken full advantage of the oppor- tunity. Over the past two seasons, Pol- lard sought the counsel of a num- ber of those coaching colleagues, especially Head Football Coach David Cutcliffe, who has taken his Blue Devil squad from perennial Atlantic Coast Conference doormat to a top 25 program nationally. Reaching out to his co-workers has proven to be a wise move. In Pol- lard's inaugural season in Durham, he led the team to 26 wins—the most ever by a Duke baseball coach in his first year. Then in 2014, the Blue Devils racked up 33 victories on their way to a fourth-place ACC Learning from Colleagues regular season finish, its best league showing since 1994. Picking the brains of top coaching minds is a tactic Pollard has used throughout his career. Prior to taking the Duke job, Pol- lard turned around the program at Appalachian State University, where he was mentored by the school's legendary football coach, Jerry Moore. As a player and later an Assistant Coach at Davidson College, Pollard turned his ear to Bob McKillops, the Wildcats' suc- cessful and well-respected men's basketball coach. Here, Pollard talks about learning from his talented coach- ing colleagues. How have the Duke coaches helped you turn around the Blue Devil base- ball team? I've tried to glean important pointers from all of the coaches here and fit their ideas into my own philosophy to put my pro- gram on the right path. For exam- ple, talking to Mike Krzyzewski and observing his practices has driven home that the athletes here want to be pushed and have their coaches demand their best. At the same time, they also hold us accountable as coaches and expect our best. Then there's Head Men's Lacrosse Coach John Danowski and Head Women's Soccer Coach Robbie Church, who have both been great about helping me navi- gate recruiting at a university that has a very selective admissions process. But the person who has been the biggest help to me is Coach Cutcliffe. What has David Cutcliffe taught you? When I took the job here, I saw so many parallels between our team and where the football program was when he took over. And based on where they are now, it seemed logical to try to follow that model. One thing I've been really impressed with is how successful they are off the field. Their players are great in the classroom, are great representatives in the com- munity, and really take pride in their process and work ethic. He also instills a lot of toughness in his players, and that's something I want to do with our baseball play- ers. My coaches and I spend a lot of time talking about the parallels between football and baseball. We'll constantly ask our players, "Did you see what happened on the football field this weekend? Did you see the will to win?" What is the interaction among the coaches at Duke like? Our setup is nice because all of the sport venues are close together and there are lots of opportunities to interact on a regular basis. Sure, it's humbling and eye opening to be in a meeting and hear from the who's who of coaching greats, but to be honest, I learn more in one- on-one talks and discussions. I get the most out of stopping by Coach Cutcliffe's office for 30 minutes, having lunch with Robbie Church, and watching a men's basketball practice. That's when we share ideas and I really learn. Duke University players, including two-time All-ACC honoree Jordan Betts, have benefited from the knowledge of all the school's great coaches. Click Here to sign up for our free series of educational digital newsletters Click Here to sign up for our free series of educational digital newsletters

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