The Rocky Mountain (Fort Collins, Colorado) High School baseball team has captured six Class 5A state titles in last 11 seasons, so the players are accustomed to winning.
Celebrations for advancing to state and winning championships are always special, but the guys know when to draw the line once they hop onto the bus to head home.
“They’ll have as much fun as the bus driver will let us have on the way home,” Rocky Mountain coach Scott Bullock said. “I can’t remember a state championship where guys are excited and they’re having fun on the way home and a bus driver ever asking us to be quiet or anything.”
Bullock takes pride in having a great program that emphasizes winning on the field and staying classy off the field.
After 16 years at Rocky Mountain and 21 overall coaching baseball, Bullock has set a solid foundation that his guys follow.
“We’re big on kids just being good citizens off the field and we’ll mention to them when we get on the bus the first couple of times of the year, ‘Hey, when we’re on the bus, we need to be respectful. That driver’s doing his job,’” Bullock said. “A lot of it is just culture, the kids grow up in it. It’s fun because they’ll get on the bus maybe as a first-year varsity player and right away they see how the older guys act on the way to the game. Our bus rides are quiet on the way to the game. I really never have to say anything like, ‘Get locked in or be serious.’”
Bullock expects his guys to be getting prepared while traveling to a road game. As long as the players are relaxing and focused, Bullock is happy.
“I don’t have any rules like, you can’t talk or you can’t listen to music,” Bullock said. “Whatever it takes for you to get locked in and get ready to play."
“Most of our games are an hour away at the most, so that’s a great opportunity for guys to get locked in. That’s what I want to see on the bus, I want to see that type of focus.”
On bus ride home, the players are certainly happy if they pull off a victory. However, if Rocky Mountain loses, the mood is obviously subdued.
“If we lose, they know it’s going to be a quiet ride home. It just is,” Bullock said. “They know I don’t want to hear a bunch of screwing around after a loss. After a win, it’s a little more fun, a little looser. There’s a lot of joking and guys are listening to their music, but at the same time understanding that bus driver has a job to do and they need to be respectful to that.”
Bullock relies on his seniors to step up and say something on the coach’s behalf if they see a teammate out of line, especially on the bus.
“That’s something that is big in our program,” Bullock said. “I gather the seniors at the beginning of the year and say, ‘ this is not my team, this is your team. I will have another season; this is your last one. You guys know me; you guys know my expectations and the culture that I expect in our program. But you guys are going to be a big part of running this show and having the type of team that you want to have.’ They do a good job. I think that’s a big deal for your seniors. The bus, that’s just a small part of it.”
Bullock also is very regimented when it comes to his players’ pre-game habits in heading on the road. His teams take batting practice at their own school prior to jumping on the bus. Bullock’s guys always wear baseball pants while hitting and they’re always dressed from head to toe when they step off the bus in an opposing town.
“It’s just who we are. We’re big on representing our school and our program. That culture piece, once again, is such a big deal to myself and the rest of our coaches.”
From GameChanger and Greg Bates
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