The latest guest on The Base Path Podcast is the coach of the No. 1 ranked team in Massachusetts, Austin Prep coach Jonathan Pollard.
Austin Prep, a MIAA Division 3 powerhouse, has started the season 10-0 with victories against several of the other teams in NEBJ’s list of top 10 teams. Pollard sits down with The Base Path Podcast host Dan Guttenplan to discuss his team’s perfect first half of the season.
“We have a bull’s eye on us, and I think most schools circle us on the calendar and want to bring their best that day,” Pollard said. “We embrace that challenge. Part of embracing that is absolutely not looking beyond anyone. Conference play is conference play. We try to get the best of the best outside of the conference, and that’s reflected in the rankings … It’s very fortunate that we’re ranked No. 1 right now, but our goal is to be ranked No. 1 at the end of June.”
Austin Prep is led by Virginia commit Evan Blanco — one of five Division 1 commits on this year’s roster. Pollard and his staff have also helped two players earn opportunities with D2 and D3 programs.
“We want our guys to find a school that is a fit for them athletically and academically,” Pollard said. “I think you have to assess what you want your career to be. Do you want to play early? Do you want to wait in line? Do you want to have goals of playing beyond college at the professional level? As we work through all of that, that’s where (D1, D2 or D3) really begins to answer itself. But the more important pieces, let’s do the legwork to really be educated about your degree.
“What region are you going to? Don’t just take the default answer that southern baseball is better than northern baseball. I don’t believe that. I’ve been blessed to coach around the world, and I don’t believe that northern players are inferior to any players from any part of the country … Are mom and dad in the stands every single game? Then why are we talking about Texas? Because you understand, mom and Dad might not be able to be there every single week. And are you OK with that?”
Earlier this school year, Austin Prep revealed plans to join the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC), effective at the start of the 2022-2023 academic year. Pollard said the move will have many benefits for his program.
“The common denominator of all the student-athletes from all NEPSAC competitors is they want to go to college,” Pollard said. “That’s a huge benefit in the recruiting process because coaches from the D1, D2 and D3 levels have very limited time to go see players. If they can go to a game where they’re looking at the field, at the ice, at the court, and they say every single person here has already identified that they intend to go to college, that’s a huge separator for us. The other part is, Prep is not some arbitrary word. We want to provide an experience that replicates college baseball as closely as we can. The NEPSAC rules are a bit more conducive to having that impact on your players.”
Listen to the entire podcast with Jon Pollard.
The New England Baseball Journal podcast is brought to you by the University of Nebraska High School.
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