Tom Roy is the president and founder of UPI. He played minor league baseball in the Giants organization and has coached at the high school and college level. He has also been a team chaplain for the Chicago White Sox and has conducted baseball camps and clinics internationally. He is a baseball “lifer,” having been involved in the game as a player, coach, chaplain, clinician, radio personality and author for over fifty years. I recently caught up with Tom at the NCCAA Baseball Tournament in Mason, Ohio and asked him the following questions:
Inside Pitch: One of your many gifts is a sense of humor. How has that helped you in your life as a player, coach and mentor to coaches?
Baseball is a game but it needs to be played with a combination of concentration and relaxation to be our best. The key is knowing how and when to use humor to keep players and coaches loose. It also shows players that we live life like they do. If it is not in your gift mix, don’t try to push or manufacture it, but humor can be a great tool if used properly.
IP: Who was the most influential coach in your life and how did he influence you?
Coach Norm Wilhelmi. Norm coached in college for over 25 years and taught me many lessons, most importantly that we invest in the others and that we need to be real….the school hired us to be us. Also, that we never stop learning and serving. A radical change from what I thought coaching was about….wins.
IP: Many athletes have an inner (and some cases outward) struggle in their relationships with their fathers. What advice can you give dads and players?
Yes, many players are in the process of trying to define themselves as men. They often play out of anger or frustration. It can work for a while but over the long haul it can be counter productive. Fathers and sons need to reflect on what is important and address issues head on. Where and why is there a struggle? Too many of us get too busy and are afraid to look “behind the screen” at our motives and the “holes in our swing.” I am a Christ follower so I tell men that we all need to be re-fathered by our real Father.
IP: What advice can you give coaches as they formulate their philosophy and purpose in coaching?
Revisit why they coach. Do we have a philosophy or are we just showing up? Too often we, as coaches, can get caught up in the x’s and o’s. If that is your philosophy, be honest and make it a goal to grow beyond that. Understanding our philosophy will help us focus and keep perspective. My philosophy is: People are more important than the program. The program is more important than winning. Winning is important!
This helps me gain focus during those tough times and remember why I put the uniform on.
IP: One of your books, Sandusky Bay, was a great read for me. What inspired you to write this impactful novel?
It’s amazing how often I see the struggles of fathers and sons. The story follows generational struggles of a grandfather who worked the mines of West Virginia, who has a rebellious son that leaves home and works in a foundry in Ohio, and eventually has a son who becomes a pro baseball player. I wanted to put the struggles in story form to help men identify and work on the challenges we all face in becoming mature MEN WITH MEANING. Healing broken relationships and my love for baseball inspired me to write Sandusky Bay.