The Drill: Minnesota West coach Hostikka is a happy recruiter
WORTHINGTON -- Some college coaches aren’t happy recruiters. For some, the constant need to beat the bushes is a turn-off.
It’s a sales job. Collecting players can be a drag, a necessary but un-fun business that turns game managers into salesmen.
Some college coaches like it, however. The chase is exciting, and they know that if they do it well, their teams will be much better for it.
TD Hostikka is one of those. He loves the recruitment game. And his baseball team at Minnesota West Community and Technical College, is all the better for it. Hostikka, a native of Washington state, is in his sixth season as head baseball coach at West, and through the hard work of recruiting he has greatly added to the program’s depth.
More players, and better players, is the result. Hostikka’s teams have ranked nationally in recent seasons in such categories as pitching and base-stealing. This year, the Bluejays’ leader thinks he has one of the best all-round squads he’s had yet, with a deep pitching staff, an outstanding infield, and exceptional catchers.
Hostikka, who is also a pig farmer, teaches psychology and philosophy at the college. Now, psychology may have little or nothing to do with keeping pigs in line, but it may have something to do with luring good ballplayers from long distances to come to Worthington. Hostikka’s record is well established -- he loves his baseball job, he loves winning, and he knows how to sell his program.
The Globe talked to TD recently about his baseball team, about his love for the sport (when he talks about his all-time favorite major league player, ex-Phillies slugger Mike Schmidt, he sounds like a kid again), and how he has made the Bluejays into winners. The result is a Drill episode. You can see the video online at www.dglobe.com. Here is a sampling of the interview:
QUESTION: When you surveyed the program at the beginning of your tenure, what did you decide were the most important things that needed to be changed?
ANSWER: “In developing the program, we wanted the numbers, we wanted the people to come here, we wanted to develop something that was a winning tradition. … The very first thing that we noticed when we surveyed it was, ‘OK, how do we improve the facilities, how do we get more coaches, and how then do we get kids that we can develop?’”
QUESTION: What about the recruiting?
ANSWER: “We’ve been able to figure out how to recruit, to set up our recruiting process, to set up our development program, to market ourselves and our college. And that has helped us become more competitive. … There are coaches out there that know about our program, both college coaches at the four-year level and high school coaches that contact us with their kids. And so, we have a white board that we’ve got names up upon names that we’re looking at all the time.”
QUESTION: So what’s so fun about recruiting?
ANSWER: “To me, I like recruiting because it’s a challenge. At the Division III junior college level, we can offer no athletic scholarship. So often times people ask me, ‘How did you get a kid from California to come here?’, or, ‘How did you get a kid from Texas to come here?’ And I kind of say, ‘Well, why wouldn’t they come here?’”