Former Cardinal coaching Rockets
By Andrew Alexander
Former Adamsville Cardinal baseball player Daniel Wolford was named the head coach of the Clarksburg Rockets baseball team on Thursday afternoon at the ripe age of 23.
“I’m going to get the best out of them,” said Wolford referring to his plan for building Clarksburg into an elite West Tenn. Class A baseball team. “I will make sure they want to win more than anyone that steps onto the field to face us.”
Wolford has spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach for another Class A West Tenn. baseball team, the Greenfield Hornets, where Wolford was groomed by Head Coach Will Trevathan.
Over the last two seasons, the Hornets have gone deep in the post-season reaching Sub-State twice only to be knocked off by Wolford’s alma mater, the Adamsville Cardinals, in 2010 and the two-time defending state champion Riverside Pathers in 2011.
Wolford also graduated from the University of Tennessee at Martin in the spring of 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and had been student teaching at Greenfield before receiving his diploma just a little under a month ago.
He plans to teach World History, U.S. History, and American Government while coaching at Clarksburg High School.
“There’s nothing like being able to teach kids something,” said Wolford. “There’s nothing like teaching them a skill, and then watching them do something that I love to do.”
Not only is Wolford young, he has also proven to be skilled at coaching younger players by winning two 14-year-old Dixie Youth Boys’ State Championships in 2008 and 2009 for Adamsville and even a fourth place finish at the Dixie Youth World Series held in Seneca, S.C. in 2009.
Wolford understands that there are positive and negative sides to being a younger coach.
“They (the players) are going to test me. They see me as one of them right now, and I have to set the tone and let them know that I’m not one of them,” said Wolford. “I’m not their friend, I’m their coach.”
He also understands that it may be a challenge to manage not only the players but also the parents considering that, “Some of their parents might have kids my age.”
Wolford’s grasp of the challenge at hand is firm because he believes the positives of his youth outweigh the negative.
“The positive side of it is that I can reach them better than an older coach,” said Wolford. “The last few years as an assistant coach I could talk to players... They seem to listen a little better to younger coaches.”
“We’ll start like they’ve never played the game before,” Wolford said. “I can’t assume that they know anything.”
When asked what Clarksburg’s record was in this year’s baseball season Wolford said, “That’s a question I didn’t even ask because it doesn’t matter. We’re starting over.”
“They (Clarksburg) have some talent there. They’ve just had some discipline problems,” said Wolford. “Things are going to be different than they’re used to. When you come to my practices, you’re coming to work.”
The Clarksburg Rockets have never won a Class A State Championship and they are on their third coach in three seasons. However, they do have a new field that’s only two seasons old, five or six returning starters, and a young coach fresh out of college that has been under the wing of some highly influential coaches.
“My dad coached me from the time I was four to the time I was fourteen,” said Wolford. “Everyday he would work eight hours, and I really didn’t appreciate that until I did it. Seeing how hard he works really inspired me.”
“He treated everyone the same, but he was always harder on me than anyone else, and he still is,” said Wolford, “but seeing how much it meant to him to see that he got the best out of us meant a lot to me.”
Wolford also credits the man that first helped him get his cleat in the coaching door, Scott King, as being an inspiration saying, “I really can’t thank Scott King enough,” referring to King’s role in Wolford coaching Adamsville’s Dixie Youth boys baseball team.
Another inspiration to Wolford is Trevathan, the head coach of the team Wolford has been the hitting coach for during the last two seasons.
“I was confident in my coaching abilities and then I got up there (Greenfield). He showed me what I needed to work on, and he really took me under his wing,” Wolford said about Trevathan.
Wolford also credits two of his previous coaches from McNairy County, Steven Lambert and Brian Franks saying, “Coach Lambert has always been there and the same goes for Coach Franks at McNairy Central.” He also said he owed thanks to Adamsville Principal Greg Martin for helping him get the position at Clarksburg.
Wolford has faced his former coach Steven Lambert before, but his team fell short losing to the Cardinals in a Sub-State game two seasons ago.
“It was fun, and I wanted to beat them more than anything in the world,” said Wolford. “Almost every kid on that roster was a kid I had coached before,” referring to his two Dixie Youth State Champion teams in Adamsville.
“Right now, they (Adamsville) are at a level that we want to get to. They’ve been very successful,” said Wolford. “He (Lambert) is a good coach, and he’s got some talent right now. He’s got great kids and a great community there, and we want to strive to get to that level.”
A young man Wolford is, and high hopes he does have, but with an understanding of his obstacles and sound tutelage from good teachers to lean on, Wolford feels optimistic about his future in running a “classy” program at Clarksburg High School.
“I can’t guarantee wins. If anyone does, they’re lying to you. You can’t do that,” said Wolford. “But what I can promise you is we’re going to run a clean program. We’re going to do the little things right, hustle when we cross that chalk, we’re not going to dip, we’ll have our shirts tucked in, we’ll have our hats on forwards, and we’ll be ready to work.”