This is our continuing interview series with Vipers Baseball Club coaches. We believe that we have the best coaches in the area. Our goal is to do baseball the right way, developing players' character and skills. Coaching with the kids best interest as the priority will make it MUCH more likely that kids are still playing when they get to the high school level.
Jeff Floyd has been a Vipers coach for 7 years across multiple age groups. This past season, he coached an 8u team and is actively preparing for tryouts for 9u, where the fun of kid pitch begins. Aaron Beard sat down with Jeff recently to get the 411 on Jeff's coaching world.
Aaron Beard: Share a little about yourself. How long you’ve coached and why did you decided to join Vipers Baseball Club as a coach?
Jeff Floyd: Husband to the best, Dad to 2 boys and 2 girls. Southern California boy, moved to Kentucky for high school, graduated from Centre College, and have worked for a consulting company for 20 years. Coached for 15 years, the last 7 with the Vipers after some guys who I trust told me that the Vipers would be a great fit. They were right - excellent leadership and culture.
Aaron: What is your main focus when teaching our young ball players?
Jeff: I love this game, the history and finer parts of it, and want to share that with others. We focus on developing great teammates, competitors, leaders... and then baseball players. Having coached our older sons in showcases and helping prepare them for their future, it's fun to work with younger guys again on these basic tools that build a strong foundation.
Aaron: How do you decide how far to travel and how many games to play?
Jeff: At 7u & 8u, everything was less than one hour away. We're blessed to have outstanding facilities close to home in places like Elizabethtown and Clarksville. No reason to travel for the sake of travel and although I love my "team family", vacation time is for my own family. Games? The 'right' number is whatever leaves them with a desire for a little bit more when we finish the season. That number varies for each group. At 8u we played 12 games in the Fall and 40 in the Spring. We finished our season on June 17.
Aaron: Share a few of your team’s success stories from this season.
Jeff: 13 players greatly developed their skills and want to come back for more... that's success at 8u. We built good relationships with players and families and had a lot of fun playing this great game. And oh yeah... we won, a LOT!
Aaron: How has being a part of Vipers Baseball Club helped you as a coach?
Being in a community with other great coaches and leaders is priceless. Those connections have value far beyond baseball. Our community of coaches help me refine my approach as a coach and leader. Likewise, a wise college baseball coach once told me his only superstition was having the best players! Coaching in the best organization around has certainly brought out some outstanding young players.
Aaron: Do you have any funny stories about the team you’d like to share?
Jeff: Tons! From practice competitions, to dog-piles, to nicknames and to 8 year olds catching major league fly balls, we had a lot of fun. Going into the State Championship tournament the boys were riding a 14 game winning streak, and knew if they won out they would get to dunk their coach in ice water after the last game. They lost the first game of the weekend and the 'dream' was over. Then they won 4 in a row for the title, and in 100 degree heat, this coach had no problem going ahead with the ice water shower. They loved it! And yes, I got them in the ice water also!
Aaron: What advice would you give the next group of players and coaches at the 8u age?
Jeff: Remember that they are only 8 years old. As much as I loved the maturity and dedication of my high school age Vipers team, this age group should be different. Eight year olds should play multiple sports, get an off season and Summer break. That said, when practicing or playing, ensure that they go hard, and as a coach, set high expectations for them. Sweat the small stuff, and represent yourself and your organization in the best manner possible.
8u Vipers Head Coach (2018)