Our Vipers 18u team has accomplished something phenomenal. Fourteen of sixteen are committed to play college baseball. Considering only around 10% of high school baseball players play in college, this is outstanding. Aaron Beard sat down with Coach Chris Thomas to learn more about this team.
Aaron Beard: How many players on your roster, and where will they be playing college baseball?
Chris Thomas: We have 16 on the roster, and we have a couple of guys to fill in if needed. 14 have committed to play baseball in college. Of those commits, 3 are D1, 7 are D3, 1 is JUCO and 3 are NAIA.
Aaron: How long have you Coached for Vipers Baseball?
Chris: This is my 13th year coaching baseball. I have spent the last 3 years coaching for the Vipers.
Aaron: What role do you think being a part of our Club has played in this group’s success on and off the field?
Chris: Well some of these guys have played for different organizations throughout their baseball careers, but I believe that playing for a large organization like the Vipers has afforded them the opportunity to play in some of the top tournaments in the country as well as playing against the top talent. It is also a great benefit to have access to the resources of this organization, the facilities and the counsel of other experienced coaches. It is a very special thing to be involved in an organization that focuses so much on what is best for the kids.
Aaron: How much did being a Viper help support these players in the recruiting process?
Chris: As a coach I felt it was my job to reach out to college coaches and build a good relationship for the players. Before and during the larger tournaments in Indianapolis, Atlanta and Ft Myers I made sure to make contact with college coaches and tried to find out what their needs were for 2018 and made sure they always had a copy of our roster. I also believe that it helps to be part of the Vipers organization, which has a great reputation throughout the college coaching community. And we continue to mature and improve in ways that will help the next generation of Vipers.
Aaron: Does the recruiting success of this team help the players drive each other to continue to get better?
Chris: Yes, absolutely. These guys push each other to be the best hitter, fielder and pitcher. They all strive to be the best all the time.
Aaron: As their coach, what makes you most proud of them?
Chris: This is my 13th season coaching baseball and what a wonderful ride I have been on. When it comes down to it, all the trophies in the world do not matter. What matters is the great friendships that have been built over all these years and watching these young men compete against some of the best players in the country. This group thrives off playing against top talent and has come out on top the majority of time. That is what makes me proud of them, their drive and competitiveness.
Aaron: Do you have any funny stories you’d like to share about them?
Chris: I have so many great memories. One that stands out is during a game last year. We were playing one of the Marucci Elite teams, it was a very close game and we were playing on center stage in Perfect Game's Lakepoint facility with every college coach watching. I look down the bench and the guys are so relaxed! They are talking about playing spike ball back at the hotel. By the way, we won the game! LOL!
One piece of advice that I can give to any coach and player - if your guys aren’t playing loose then they won’t play well. Stay relaxed and enjoy the game no matter the situation.
Coach Chris Thomas
Vipers Class of 2018