By Kurt Hyde
Brandon Rains, Brookhaven College baseball head coach, sits in his office and points with pride to last year’s 20-10 record. It was his first year at Brookhaven and the team’s seasonal performance had the Bears ranked second in the conference.
Rains’ voice sounds prouder when discussing another result of last year’s season: seven of his players went on to four-year schools with scholarships, six with athletic scholarships and one with an academic scholarship.
“I consider myself more as a teacher than a coach,” he said.
Rains played second base and shortstop for West Texas A&M before beginning his coaching career at University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth, Kan.
Rains said he came to the Dallas area as an assistant coach at the University of Texas in Dallas. During those eight years, the UTD teams made the playoffs all but one year, and 16 of the players went on to play minor league baseball.
When he builds teams, Rains said, he concentrates on developing skills the players need to go on to four-year schools that can offer scholarships.
Jeffrey Sealy, catcher and outfielder, said Rains helps the players meet their goals. “This isn’t the last stop,” he said. “Coach emphasizes if you want to move up or continue your career, the better your grades, the better it is.”
Most of the Brookhaven baseball players come from the Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and Hill Country areas, where Rains maintains frequent contact with high school and select team coaches. “We’re going after the [draft-eligible] Division I players,” he said, “You can’t be afraid to drive all over Texas.”
According to Rains, Brookhaven has two advantages that help recruit players. The first is location and the second is cost.
Rains said potential players find the Dallas area appealing and some players get only partial athletic scholarships from the big-name schools. The cost of attending Brookhaven with no scholarship can be less than attending a competing school on a partial scholarship.
Rains places high value on academics when he recruits players. “Traditionally, if a guy has bad academic habits, he’ll have bad work habits on the field,” Rains said.
Frankie Valdez, pitcher and middle infielder, said the team is working hard on defense and the coach places a priority on academics.
“The defense really separates the teams,” Valdez said. “Every day he harps on us to go to class.”
The coaching staff works with players on their baseball skills, nutrition and proper weight lifting. Rains said good nutrition and proper weight lifting are good for the players’ long-term well-being as well short-term health.
Rains said he puts a high value on whether a prospective player gets along well with his teammates. This helps build good teamwork.
Rains said he wants the players to have a good experience at Brookhaven because many baseball players keep in contact with each other, which can help future recruiting.
“The main thing is to play your best baseball at the end of the year,” Rains said.