My old manager for the Cubs, who managed me in Double-A and Triple-A, Jim Essian, who actually had a little bit of big league time with the Cubs as a manager, called me in ’95. That’s when I’d just moved to Oklahoma from Texas from working with my dad. I was in between jobs so I went to play with him that summer. I played about two weeks with him in Pueblo, Colo., and then that folded. Greg Minton, who pitched for San Francisco for a few years and was a closer, was in Lubbock and called me and wanted me to be a player/coach. I did that in ’95 there. And then in ’96 had the same role, didn’t play very much, was mainly the hitting instructor, then when Greg left in ’97-’98 I took over as the manager.
I’d lived that lifestyle. The pro ball lifestyle is tough if you’re going to have a family. I got married in ’96, and we had our first child in May of ’98 when I was managing in Lubbock. In the offseason that year I helped out with Jenks with the ninth grade team and got to know the administration pretty good. At the All-Star break of ’98, I flew back home and interviewed with Jenks. They offered me the job. I then resigned from managing the Lubbock team and that’s how I took over at Jenks.
It was Jim Essian really that got me interested in coaching. He was really a strategist. He really thought the game out as far as holding runners as a manager, your double steals, your pickoffs, trying to take advantage of every situation, showing you what the teams are trying to do to you in certain situations, was excellent at teaching hitting. That sort of piqued my interest, and then Greg Minton in Lubbock was also a student of the game. He taught me pitching and what guys were trying to do to you and that sort of thing, so that’s the fun part for me is trying to get kids to understand what teams are trying to do to you, how you can take advantage of what they’re doing, how you can keep them from doing things by saying certain things as a manager to give you an element of surprise. So that part of the strategy of baseball really interested me, and those two guys really got me going in that area, and I also love helping kids as well. I’ve always loved doing that. Combine those two and here I am where I am now.
Family is super important to me. My parents were always at every game or anything we ever did. I have three brothers and a sister and they were always with us every time they could be there so I always knew how important that was to me to look up in the stands and see them. They weren’t screamers and yellers, but just to know that I had their support. That’s what I wanted to be for my son and my daughter was to be there for them and the things that they experienced. God made that possible for me and I was able to do that and I was able to still provide for my family and still was able to do some of the things that I loved with baseball, so it worked out that way. My wife, Kristie, teaches at Bixby Public Schools and my kids go to school here, so it’s fun.