Four questions with Thomasville's Erik McDougald

Posted 4/21/19

Thomasville High coach Erik McDougald talks with pitcher Hurston Waldrep during a recent game.


Editor's Note: Erik McDougald is the head baseball coach at Thomasville High School. His team competes in Region 1-2A.


Four questions with Eric McDougald


Q: I know there was the tragic death of a player, Levi Knop, earlier this year. How did you keep players focused in the face of tragedy?
A: We received so much support from the coaching family. It has been truly a humbling experience to feel the support and sincere sympathy from all areas of the state. Coaches near and far called, texted, emailed, etc., to express their concern for us and I will forever be thankful for that support.  We talk a lot about teams being a family and this group of young men, their families and staff (Coaches Daniel Young, Brice Warner and Kyle Fiveash) have been incredible. I watched boys become men and put each other first. It is a testament to the beautiful person Levi was. It is also a testament to the character of young men and the upbringing they have received. So together we focused and together we have leaned on one another and together we are achieving. It hasn’t been me but truly we.
Q: You have been doing this for quite a while. What is your favorite memory as a coach?
A: I have so many treasured memories. Perhaps the biggest will be just being a coach with four daughters and seeing them be field rats and develop so many relationships with players, parents, fans and opponents over the years. The pictures of so many players holding each one as a baby to now having my oldest, Kelly Lane (a junior), in the dugout with me keeping GameChanger and being as locked into every pitch as any player. My other three -- Mattingly 12, Fallyn 10, and Presley 8 -- hang on every pitch of every game and we love it. The pictures and memories are priceless. This coupled with the relationships of the young men and the bond we share for life. It isn’t work, it is a blessing and I am just so glad to be doing what I do. The wins and loses fade over time, but the relationships are forever.
Q: As far as fundamental baseball is concerned (hitting cutoffs, catching ball with two hands, things like that), what would you say is important?
A: To me the most fundamental thing is the mind -- mental tenacity at practice every day, pushing yourself to fail so that that bar raises itself each time and failure becomes harder to reach. Your body will be lazy and it is up to the mind to tell the body what to do. So executing small things relentlessly and having pride about doing it is the true and basic fundamental to unlock all fundamentals in my opinion. You only fail when you quit and not pushing yourself is a form of quitting; therefore, giving less than 100 percent is failure.
Q: You have won three straight region baseball titles. How exciting is that considering Thomasville for most part was always perceived as a football school?
A: Thomasville is simply a great place for any endeavor.  Academics, fine arts, music, sports, vocational, etc. are all things we take pride in.  Success breeds success across the different aspects of student life. Thomasville is a well-rounded school and community.