Inside Pitch Magazine, January/February 2021

Coaches' Corner: Looking Back...Looking Ahead

Steve Dintaman at the Crossroads

By Adam Revelette

Steve Dintaman Steve Dintaman has coached at Sinclair Community College since 2007. Under his leadership, Sinclair has won nine OCCAC titles in 11 years. In 2019, the Tartan Pride went 51-10 and 27-1 in conference. Dintaman’s teams have averaged better than 40 wins per season since he took over, and more than 100 players have moved on to four-year schools, including 64 Division I commits. He graduated from Sinclair in 2004 and went on to receive his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Dayton in 2006. In addition to his duties at Sinclair, Dintaman has served as a Task Force Member for USA Baseball during the National Team Identification Series. He resides in Kettering, Ohio with his wife Kristen and their daughters Harper Noelle and Zoey Nicole. In May of 2020, Sinclair announced they would be suspending athletics for the 2020-21 academic year…

Inside Pitch: You are known for being very organized. What are some things you do in terms of your routine to keep things in your program moving smoothly?

Steve Dintaman: I’ve always been a planner. I’m the guy that takes his family to Disney and has a mapped out plan to maximize our experience. For me, it’s all about preparation.

I make a lot of lists and recently have started using OneNote. I really like that program as I take notes on my phone and different computers throughout the day. In my program, I have a checklist for each season to make sure that everything that needs to get done, gets done. Examples would be when to order lineup cards, or what we need to teach during our classroom sessions.

IP: What are some ways you work around weather issues when you have to practice inside or are limited in terms of your time outside?

SD: Being in Ohio, the weather will always be a factor. We were fortunate to play our home games at Athletes in Action in Xenia, which is fully turfed, and have our field house on campus, which is big enough to scrimmage in. With the field being off-campus, we spent a lot of time in the field house with practices and classroom sessions. Both of those facilities were huge in helping our players develop and preparing them for the season.

IP: What are some of your favorite team practice strategies and drills? What are some of your preferred individual drills?

SD: I really enjoy sequence drills, something I picked up from Steve Trimper when he was at Maine (who has spoken at the ABCA Convention, video available online at ABCAvideos.org). Drills that have a lot of action and not a lot of sitting around. Double plays, bunt coverages, rundowns, etc. Pitchers are moving, catchers are moving, infielders are moving, outfielders are moving, everyone is involved.

As far as individual drills, I like drills that challenge guys and that we can make competitive using a radar gun, a stopwatch, or creating a points system. 

IP: Describe the typical timeline you go through in the recruiting process with players, and the typical timeline your players experience when it comes to their next steps...

SD: One of the reasons I’ve always loved the junior college route is recruiting. I enjoy recruiting players into Sinclair and I enjoy helping players get recruited out of Sinclair.

With the guys we bring in, we typically start recruiting them during their junior year of high school. That’s when we start to target some of the better players that we would like to see play and potentially have on campus for a visit. PBR Ohio runs their Top Prospect Games to begin each summer, and that’s always been a great event for us. Keep in mind, our players are sometimes here for two years, one year, or even just one semester, so we really are recruiting every position, every year. When we recruit players that early, we are targeting players that we feel can play at the highest level of college baseball. Either they are missing something (grades, a tool, the body hasn’t matured yet) or they want to play in a winning program and have the best opportunity to play right away.

I believe the cost is also a factor for families looking to save money on general education courses that transfer. In the last couple of years, we were getting players that had Division I offers to choose Sinclair to start their collegiate careers. With players leaving so quickly, recruiting never stops, and I’ve signed players a week before classes start before. We’ve always kept a roster of under 40, so each player is valued in our system. We never have over-recruited and always have been honest and upfront with players and their families.

In regards to placing guys after Sinclair, I’ve never cared what level they went to after their time here. For me, it was all about the best fit for them and their families. Having said that, the majority of our players came to Sinclair because they want to play Division I baseball. Their recruiting starts right when they arrive on campus. We play in the Best of the Midwest, which is a top junior college showcase, we have our Scout Day, which PBR helps run, and we scrimmage various Division I programs in the area. Historically, position players were getting 60+ plate appearances and pitchers would be on the mound between 7-10 times live. Some of our players sign in the fall while others wait. Anyone that really wants to play at the next level has always had opportunities to do so.

IP: What has it been like working with USA Baseball? How did you get involved with that?

SD:
Working with USA Baseball is by far the greatest experience that I’ve had in my professional career. I’ve been fortunate to work as a task force member on National Team Identification Series and West Championship events. Not only is it a great honor to work for USA Baseball, but I’ve met some of the best coaches and people from all over the country.

I started by emailing various people within the organization about being involved. Rob Cooper, the current Head Coach at Penn State, is the one person that I can pinpoint that really helped me get an opportunity. I’m forever grateful to Coop for helping the process. My family knows that when USA Baseball calls, we say yes!

IP: Describe what you've been doing since Sinclair suspended its playing season...

SD: Since that decision was made, there has been zero talk about restarting the program and therefore, I don’t plan on being back. I currently work an enrollment job at the college and took a position helping Northern Kentucky’s baseball program this year as their Director of Peak Performance.

I’ve enjoyed spending more time with my family and have been preparing daily for my next coaching job. My coaching group (The “Nektons”) keeps me going and challenges me to become a better coach, person, husband, and father every day. I look forward to being back in a dugout again in the near future.

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