Around the Bases with Matt McCay

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- Inside Carolina caught up this week with Matt McCay, the third-year assistant coach of the Diamond Heels.

McCay spent his college career playing for Mike Fox at North Carolina Wesleyan (1997-98) and UNC (1999-2000). He played six seasons of pro ball in independent leagues before returning to Chapel Hill to earn his degree in 2006 and then joined Fox's coaching staff for the 2008 season. McCay coached the Thomasville High Toms to the Coastal Plains League Championship in the summer of 2008.

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Can you describe your responsibilities on the field coaching first base?
"Basically you try to help the guys out who miss a sign and understand what Coach [at third] is telling them. Also of course I sometimes have to try to help those guys out to read the balls in the gap and extend or having to tag at first. The guys are used to me because they know me pretty well - they know I yell 'Go!' on everything - so they pretty much tune me out most of the time. Anytime a ball does anything I yell 'Go!' so they kind of laugh about that one. That is kind of a little bit about my duties there - mostly communication of what Coach wants done baserunning over there."

How about your work with the hitters and the catchers and your duties with recruiting on campus?
"Coach Jackson and myself as well as Coach Fox, we all have a lot of responsibilities, and that is something that I am quite appreciative of. With the hitters, Coach has shown a lot of trust in me and gives us the ability if someone comes and ask us for help to work with them. There are no egos here and that is one of the best things about this program. With the catchers I work with the defensive stuff; Coach Forbes works with them a lot also about handling the staff and some of the stuff that goes along with that. But usually when we break into defensive work I work with the catchers on receiving, blocking, throwing - all of the basics. On the on-campus recruiting side of things, we do a lot of tournaments here over the summer and when Coach Jackson and Coach Forbes are down in Atlanta or off watching the best in the country play we get a lot of on campus tournaments and showcases and so I get to do a lot more of the evaluation there of seeing the guys play and kind of putting together the team camp stuff. On the on-campus recruiting, when the prospects come in I get to handle all of the tours. I probably have given more tours around campus in Chapel Hill than most of the people in admissions, I can almost guarantee that, with two, three or four a weekend. I can tell them all kinds of stuff about campus - Silent Sam, Old North, Old Well, the Bell - I feel like Walter Cronkite."

What has it been like with the coaching staff during this season's struggles?
"That was tough. Our guys are just not used to it. And we knew that there were going to be some things that were going to go on this year that we were going to have to fight for and that we would be depending upon some freshmen late in the game to do certain things and depending upon freshman position players to do some things, so we knew there were going to be some things that could not happen like that. We did not expect having a lead like we lost to Georgia Tech and some of the eighth inning stuff that has gone on. I give our guys credit and I give our coaching staff credit - Coach Fox, Coach Forbes and Coach Jackson - on how hard they worked to get the guys to stay positive. To understand that, 'Look we can fix one thing at a time - we can't fix everything at once - lets fix one thing at a time.' And we would work through it and I think we are starting to see that pay off."

How do you feel your experience coaching and playing under Coach Fox, Forbes and Jackson has prepared you for your coaching career?
"It has been a great experience - of course I have known Coach Fox for a very long time. When I was in high school I went to visit N.C. Wesleyan College and I met Coach for the first time and it was a no-brainer - that is where I was going to go to school. Then, two years later, when he asked me if I wanted to transfer to Carolina, there was no hesitation - absolutely. I have known him for a long time. I know what he expects from his players as well as his coaches - it has just been a great thing. Coach Jackson and Forbes have also been outstanding; so great and humble and willing to listen to me ask stupid questions and help me out to do things. Helping me out in certain situations with finding players when I coached in the CPL and stuff like that. The amount of effort that they put in, I think most people think baseball coaches sit behind a desk and have a big spittoon and hit fungoes. You would not believe how hard the guys work; that has been the best experience for me."

Matt Harvey has sneaked out of the dugout to coach first base on a couple of occasions this season - can you discuss how accurate his impression of Coach McCay in the first base box was?
"If you notice the two times that he has been out were games where we would be winning pretty well so we felt pretty comfortable seeing if Coach would notice and thought it would be kind of funny. So I would go sit in the end of the dugout and Harvey would put my helmet on and go out there. A couple of people have said we look similar although of course Matt is much taller and a lot more athletic than I am. We do weigh similar but his weight is in a lot different places than mine. That has been kind of fun to see if Coach noticed and so far I don't think he has noticed - which is pretty good. He will after this story, I guess."

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