Rogers Hornsby, one of the greatest baseball players and managers of all time, once got asked what he did in between baseball seasons. He told whoever asked the question, “I’ll tell you what I do, I stare out the window and wait until spring.”
While the major leaguers are in their dog days of summer and the minor leaguers press toward the end of their season – the players and coaches of Northwest Florida State College don’t have any games that count towards a record coming up soon. But they aren’t sitting around, staring at any windows.
The Raiders at Northwest Florida State College have just released their fall schedule – which includes both Troy University and UWF. their 18-game schedule is available here.
In light of the fall schedule’s release, we sat down to talk to the Raiders’ Skipper, and longtime coach Doug Martin about the fall schedule, a recent reunion of the Pensacola Pelicans – of which he was a coach, and more.
One of the most excellent perks of coaching Junior College Baseball to Coach Martin – he gets to watch players who he’s coached in the past succeed wildly.
The players, Coach Martin says, “come to us for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they just didn’t get the opportunity they were looking for right out of high school at the Division I level.” He says that schools like NWFSC allow student-athletes to work on their skills.
In 2022, 14 players from Martin’s Raiders signed to play for Division I programs. Schools included UNC Charlotte, Appalachian State, Alabama, University of South Alabama, Auburn, UNF, Miami, Lipscomb, FAU, Faulkner, FIU and Missouri State.
The class before included Reagan Buford and Dylan Delucia – players on the National Champion Ole Miss baseball team. Delucia was the tournament MVP. “They all worked on their craft and their skills and got better while they were here,” said Martin.
The obvious first answer is that you need to get caught playing the game. NWFSC scouts, along with every other college team in the world look for players in two places: High School Baseball and Travel Ball Teams. The more baseball you play, the more likely someone is going to see you playing baseball well – and make you an offer.
Coach Martin says that he relies heavily on his assistants to help him find the best possible talent he can acquire to come and play in Niceville. Here’s what they are looking for.
Coach says that the players he’s looking to have on his team have a standing commitment to the game of baseball. “So we are looking for the guys who are playing in high school and are playing in these travel ball tournaments for something to show us that we are looking at someone who may be different than the rest,” Martin says, “That could just be the passion and energy with which they approach the game. It could just be simple things like hustling on and off the field. Running ground balls out.”
2. Being Coachable
3. Having A Love For The Game
“We want to surround ourselves with players that don’t just like baseball, who maybe just played it growing up through little league and high school because that’s what they’ve always done and they just assume they are supposed to continue to play it when they get to college,” Martin said. “We want the guys who love it and are interested in learning and are open-minded to new and different things and want to go out and apply that and even sometimes do it on their own.”
Northwest Florida State College continues to make strong showings nationally – and regularly finds itself at the top of the heap in Florida Junior College Baseball. That doesn’t happen by accident. “It starts with having a school that values athletics, and Northwest Florida State College has always valued athletics. I’ve worked for more than four presidents in my 15 years and all of them valued athletics and wanted us to be good. Our current President, Devin Stephenson, has even taken that to another level. He was instrumental in helping us improve our facilities out there with a place that we can now practice when the weather is bad.” Martin added, “You don’t get that kind of commitment from the top down if the leadership doesn’t have the kind of interest in us being good – so it starts from the top down.”
The other key to long-term success – is the hiring and mentoring of good assistant coaches. Assistant coaches at the junior college level are responsible for many tasks. Everything from game planning, bus logistics and laundry go into an assistant coach’s area of responsibility. Having an excellent group of assistants guarantees good play on the field when the time comes. “You have to get good players in your program to [succeed,]” Martin said. “Well, you have to have good coaches on staff willing to go out and beat the bushes and make the phone calls and watch these kids as they are in high school and travel baseball.”
The Northwest Florida State College Raiders will hit the road this fall to play a series of 18 games against both Junior College and 4-Year Universities as a warm-up for the spring season. The Raiders will play Gulf Coast State College on September 29th at the campus in Niceville. The other games will be played on the road, between Mobile and Panama City.
While the games don’t count for the official record for the season, it will give fans plenty of opportunities to see the talent that the school will field for the ’23 season – including plenty of freshmen who have come on board for the Raiders.
The games are free – students and residents are encouraged to come for a night out.
🚨— NWF Baseball (@NWFRaiders_BSB) August 11, 2022
Fall schedule is released!
* 18 games/ 9 dates
* 2 D1 opponents on the schedule
* Panhandle Conference Sophomore Showcase, Thursday September 15th here at NWF
* First scrimmage to see the Raiders this fall is Friday September 2nd, time TBA#GoRaiders #SoundTheSiren pic.twitter.com/m13MMC3U6h
Coach Martin talked briefly about a reunion of the Pensacola Pelicans which took place recently in Pensacola.
Prior to working at NWFSC, Martin was an assistant coach at Pensacola Junior College (PJC), and did the fieldwork for PJC and the Pensacola Pelicans.
“That first year [The Pelicans] played at Pensacola Junior College. And that was our back into professional baseball – it had been like 50 years,” Martin remembers.
By 2005, the Pelicans began playing at UWFs facilities – and Martin became the team’s pitching coach. He got to work with Boston Red Sox Hall of Famer Bernie Carbo.
Since the Studer Family arrived in Pensacola and opened up shop with the Blue Wahoos, Martin says the baseball environment has reached its highest heights. “They put a whole lot of effort into the whole experience,” Martin said, “Quint Studer and his wife are wonderful people. They love Northwest Florida, and Pensacola and try to put a great product out there every night.
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