The latest guest on the New England Baseball Journal Podcast is one of the most accomplished D1 college coaches in the country. Wolfeboro, N.H., native Tim Corbin helped lift Vanderbilt to national championships in 2014 and 2019.
Over his 20-year career at Vanderbilt, Corbin has led his teams to a record of 802-377-1 – good for a winning percentage of .680. His Commodores have made four trips to the College World Series in the last eight seasons.
Even as Corbin has planted roots in Nashville, Tenn., he continues to treat New England as a recruiting hotbed, adding more players to his roster from the region than any other coach in the SEC. The current Vanderbilt roster includes three players from New England — catcher Dom Keegan (Methuen, Mass.), outfielder Calvin Hewett (Greenland, N.H.) and pitcher Hunter Owen (South Portland, Maine).
“I just think it’s more of a personality fit,” Corbin said. “Academically, I think a lot of the New England players can fit the school first. Then, secondly, it’s just their personality traits. It takes a different kid to play baseball in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut. The weather for four or five months during the course of the year isn’t always favorable. The snow and ice in that climate, it makes it difficult during those winter months.”
“I’ve always seen those kids as being able to overcome those things. There is a level of toughness that usually is a part of their traits. A lot of New England kids play multiple sports, and I’m a big proponent of guys that play multiple sports. Finally, my familiarity … I think you always go back in life to the people that you feel most comfortable with, and I’ve always felt as comfortable with New England kids.”
Corbin explained why playing multiple sports in high school can make a recruit more appealing during the recruiting process.
“It’s a way for the kid to decompress from the game,” Corbin said. “I think if you play it 12 months out of the year, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re growing from it. If you do something over and over and over for a long period of time, there’s a piece of you that’s not always going to be as intentful as if it’s taken away for a while, and then you go back to it.
“I do think there’s something to be said about football players, hockey players, basketball players who engage in frequent competition that is very team-oriented. There’s a lot of anticipatory skills that grow inside those sports that you can’t get on a baseball field. And I also think there is a body element to it. If you’re a Friday night football player, you understand what it’s like to wake up on a Saturday morning and get yourself going. You don’t necessarily have to feel a 10 on a 10 scale in order to be the best version of yourself all the time. You can be slightly injured and still perform at a high level, and I think in playing other sports, those are some of the qualities and components that allow a kid that’s playing baseball to benefit as he goes forward in the game.”
Corbin and his staff will continue to bring in New England players in the coming years. Current high school seniors in the Class of 2022 Raymond Velazquez (Lowell, Mass.) and Ivan Arias (Boston, Mass.) are committed to Vanderbilt. Class of 2023 left-hander Alex Clemmey (Middletown, R.I.) is also planning to become a Commodore.
Corbin said that it has become easier to scout New England players since so many are playing in travel ball tournaments in Florida and Georgia. He laid out what he wants to see from prospective Vanderbilt recruits.
“In short, compete,” Corbin said. “If there’s one trait that all coaches are looking for, it’s a competitive kid. It’s looking for someone who has a high care level for what he’s doing once he gets inside that environment. And I can’t tell you that every situation is the same, whether it’s high school baseball, amateur baseball or college baseball, for that matter. Not every situation makes that a priority.
“For summer baseball, it’s very difficult to get into that frame of mind, knowing that you’re sometimes moving from event to event to event. Your emotions aren’t tied up with necessarily the kids that you’re playing with or the program that you’re playing with. If your emotions are tied in with other kids because you care about them, and you’re tied into the organization because you care about it, then you play at a different level. You play with a different energy. You’re competitive. Fibers are brought out. I think in the game of baseball, that’s really what it gets down to.”
Listen to the entire podcast with Corbin.
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