Troy Silva is an instructor at Rijo Athletics and author of the book 9 Innings of Hitting. He played his prep ball at Atascadero (CA) High School and Cuesta College before moving on to Lewis-Clark State College, where he would help lead the Warriors to 1996 national title and a 99-21-1 record over his two years in Lewiston, ID. Silva was named the MVP of the 1996 NAIA World Series. Following his collegiate career, Silva signed with the Cleveland Indians and played minor league baseball for six seasons. Inside Pitch recently chatted with Silva to talk coaching, being an author, social media, making baseball fun again and more.
Inside Pitch: How did you get started with Rijo Athletics?
As soon as I finished my professional career, I met up with Jose [Rijo-Berger] (former teammate at Lewis-Clark State), who was starting his academy at the time, and I’ve been up here (Woodinville, WA) ever since. I jumped right in and figured it out with trial and error, starting with the stuff that I had been taught. Over the years you learn what works and what doesn't. I never really had goals or aspirations to coach – when I finished playing it was ‘go get a normal job’ or keep trying to do something in the baseball world.
IP: What is the foundation of your coaching philosophy?
It starts with caring about kids and development. It’s about being a mentor and a role model. I think that's where a lot of coaches get confused; we are role models first and foremost, no matter what anybody thinks, whether you like it or not. We're influencing kids' lives and they need that positive impact.
IP: What was involved in writing 9 Innings of Hitting?
Writing the book didn’t take very long – probably month or so. The content is based on the everyday job we do. Lesson after lesson dealing with eight-year olds and pro guys, with boys and girls, you learn what works and what doesn’t. Putting it together and editing was the hard part. People are hungry for the truth and they want to know what works.
IP: Explain your social media presence.
The social media stuff just came about one day. I try to give people what they need, not necessarily what they want to hear. It's a combination of preaching the truth and dispelling some myths. It’s done 100% on my iPhone, it’s relatively easy. It takes a minute or so to upload it and it’s done.
IP: Where do you do most of your videos? It looks like you’re in the middle of a forest!
[Rijo Athletics] is actually the property I live on, so as I walk down to my job (yes, I walk to my job—takes about 30 seconds), it's pretty amazing. There's no form or function to that. There's nine acres here and on it is our baseball property, which includes six cages, a pitching lane, a full infield with FieldTurf. Behind the field is the house Jose (the owner) lives in and I'm always behind him.
IP: What about balancing work with home life?
It's really hard. It's a constant baseball mindset because I'm on the property. Over the period of a month I only leave a few times – when I go to church and maybe go hang out. Where I live is secluded so it's pretty cool...I can get away a little bit without being involved. It's a lifestyle.
IP: What are your observations about the current state of amateur baseball? Any advice you would offer?
Starting with the parents, enjoy watching your kids play a game. I see parents pacing all the time; it’s just not that big of a deal. Don’t isolate yourself from the rest of the parents, just encourage your player and their teammates. Once coaches learn the influence you have as being a role model, your whole demeanor, approach and philosophy will change. Some coaches are wound so tight – it’s such a bad example. There are bad umpires and bad calls and bad breaks. We have to teach kids that it’s the same way in life: you’re going to get bad breaks and you can’t just get mad and complain about it, you have to move on and deal with it.
I try to make a note to smile all the time as a coach. Have fun with the kids. We need to teach and correct, but mistakes are made and if they’re learning and having a good attitude and they have a genuine level of caring and developing character, then we’ve accomplished our goal as coaches in being a positive role model in their lives.
Kids these days can get more concerned about showcases as opposed to learning the game the right way and having fun.
IP: What can coaches do better?
I think some coaches are too focused on their own brand as opposed to being a little bit more selfless and having more humility. Understand that it’s not about you. Your brand develops as you improve as a coach and as you make it less about you. My mission is to honor Jesus and try to be a Christlike example through Rijo Athletics. Your brand is not about you, it’s about how you can serve other people and help them improve.
IP: How can we make baseball fun again?
There is so much anxiety built around the game today, it needs to change. I feel like what we do here at Rijo Athletics is special; we’re on a mission to lead the way and make it fun again.
We're eight hours a day of lesson after lesson after camp after lesson and it can get monotonous and boring unless you're making it fun for yourself. If you're not having fun as a coach, the kids are going to read right through it and no one will get much out of it. You’ve got to give each kid the same high level of energy, which is not easy to do.
I love it and I wouldn't change it for the world. I love being a coach.