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20 Questions: Bellevue West Baseball Head Coach Jason Shockey




What is your team outlook for 2024?
We are excited for this year! We’ve got a solid senior group that has a lot of experience . We’ve got 8 kids who have committed/signed to play college ball next year. Last year’s summer legion team made it to the State Championship game and lots of players on this years roster, played key roles on that team.

Players to watch in 2024?
Nick Riggs – 2024 -LHP/OF/1B – Signed with University of Nebraska-Omaha
Tanner Hosick – 2024 – RHP/OF – Signed with University of Nebraska-Omaha
Ty Smolinski – 2024 – INF – Signed with Kansas State University
Colin Flores – 2024 – RHP/OF/1B – Signed with Allen County CC
Nick Glantz – 2024 – INF – Signed with Allen County CC
Kaden Allred – 2024 – OF – Signed with Briar Cliff University
Jake Smolinski – 2024 – INF/OF – Signed with Southeast CC
Johnny Barrientos – 2024 – 1B/OF
Cade Zavala – 2024 – C
Drew Grego – 2025 – Committed to University of Nebraska
Cole Madden – 2025 – RHP/C
Brayden Woodard – 2025 – RHP
Will Sims – C/OF

How long have you been coaching high school baseball?
This will be my 10th year coaching high school baseball

What inspired you to become a high school baseball coach?
My Dad coached high school baseball (and still does) for over 30 years at Ralston, Westside and now is an assistant for me at Bellevue West. Growing up going to the ballpark was a constant in my family and I as my playing career was beginning to wind down, it is something that I kind of always had in the back of my head. I coached college baseball for 5 years and then this opportunity at Bellevue West opened up and it ended up being a great fit.

What is your coaching philosophy when it comes to developing high school baseball players?
The big thing that we try and do is continue to build our culture. We’ve been fortunate to have a litany of great young men and baseball players come through our program. It’s these student-athletes that have continue to pass on our culture and the way we go about things to our younger players. The second thing that we try and do is utilize our time. We tell our players that the one thing we have in common with all of the other schools that we will see, is “time”. The important thing is what we do with our time. We usually start up our off-season program after Labor Day with weights in the morning, 4-on-1 sessions and team meetings. We typically continue these sessions all the way up until tryouts. All of these events help with our development and our program culture.

Can you share some key principles you instill in your players regarding sportsmanship?
We talk a lot about playing the game the “right way”. This obviously encompasses a wide range of what takes place both on and off the field. However, it is very important that we represent our school, our families, our program and the game of baseball in the correct manner.

What is your approach to balancing academics and athletics for your players?
Being in the building at Bellevue West definitely helps this process. I try and check up on our players’ grades as much as possible. If we feel like someone is slipping up a bit, then we will have a conversation as to how we can get better in the classroom. We also address this in our team meetings throughout the course of the year. Being a student-athlete can be difficult for many reasons. One skill that we hope our kids learn is the idea of time management. This will ultimately help them with their studies.

How do you address the varying skill levels and experience within the team?
In the off-season, we open up all of our 4-on-1’s/weight training to our entire program. We don’t specify freshman at this time or varsity players only at this time. We try as best as possible to develop all of our players who are planning on trying out in late February/early March. Once we get to the season, obviously we’ve got 3 teams and each one of those teams has different skill levels. Even once a player is put on a specific team, we tell our guys that this isn’t necessarily “permanent”. The goal is to put student-athletes in positions to be successful and that may mean moving them around until they find a place that “matches” their skill set.

Can you describe your strategy for preparing the team for important games or tournaments?
All of our games are important and we try and take that same approach for each individual game. We talk quite a bit about playing against the “game” and not the opponent. If we do not bring our energy/effort, it really doesn’t matter who is sitting in the opposing dugout.

How do you encourage players to set and work towards both individual and team goals?
We talk quite a bit about team and individual goals. Both are very important for us to achieve our main goal. In the off-season, we’ll have our guys physically write our their team/individual goals. I’ll ask them if anyone would like to share those goals and usually we’ll have quite a few that will share to the group.

What emphasis do you place on mental preparation?
We meet with a mental coach throughout the course of the season. Typically, they will come in on Sunday’s and talk to our guys about the week prior and what is coming up. The big thing that our mental coach talks about is having a plan and seeing yourself being successful. These sessions are interactive and in my opinion, really benefit our players.

What role do statistics and analytics play in your coaching decisions?
I think in baseball, statistics can be somewhat misleading. I look at them but to the same degree, baseball is very much a “failure sport” (especially from the offensive side). You can go 0 for 4 and hit 4 line-drives and realistically have nothing to show for it in the box-score. Having said that, that is obviously someone that you want in the lineup if they are consistently “barreling it up”. I would much rather look at on-base percentage, runs scored, RBI and strikeouts as opposed to batting average on the offensive side. From a pitching side, “walks vs. strikeouts” are a big one as well as others.

How do you manage playing time and ensure fair opportunities for all team members?
We use the word “opportunity” a ton in our program. Everyone gets opportunities in the off-season as well as practice. Again, we do not “restrict” anyone from doing any of our off-season opportunities. What everyone does with their respective opportunities leads to the amount of time that they play in games.

What role do leadership and captaincy play within your team, and how are leaders selected?
Leaders are a big part of our program. In my opinion, your leaders on your team should essentially be an “extension” of the coaching staff. We don’t designate “captains” but a lot of our leadership roles take shape in the off-season during our weight sessions, meetings and “individuals”.

What resources or facilities are available to the baseball team for practice and games?
We have a couple of places that we utilize in the off-season as well as during the season. We try and stay “outside” in the fall months as much as possible. The walls inside can seemingly get closer and closer the more that you are inside, so we try to take advantage of our turf field as much as possible. When it is too cold, we will hit at the Lied Center, work on defense at BJSA and go through our throwing progression in the North Gym at Bellevue West. In some other instances, we will utilize Ultimate Baseball Academy (UBA).

What qualities do you look for in assistant coaches to ensure a cohesive coaching staff?
Our assistant coaches have been great in my 9+ years. 3 of our 4 assistant coaches on our varsity staff have been with us since the beginning. We’ve got a few guys as well that have been here 5 or more years. The big thing that I look for in assistant coaches is energy, passion and great communicators. Ultimately these are 3 characteristics that we try and play with on a consistent basis in both practices and games. We’ve also got a few coaches that have come through our program as players. I think this is a big deal because these guys know the system and the style in which we like to play.

What advice do you give to players aspiring to pursue baseball beyond high school?
One of the big things that we talk about with our high school players and also those guys transition to college baseball, is time management. You have to be willing to manage your day in a way that is going to benefit you physically but also mentally. Once you go to college, there are many more opportunities to do things that you may not have had available to you in high school. The big thing is to continue to stay with your routine and make sure that you are managing your time wisely in the classroom, on the field/weight-room and socially.

What services do you utilize to help players that want to pursue baseball beyond high school?
We try and do a lot of the legwork for our guys from a recruiting standpoint. In the fall we do YouTube videos and we also send out emails to over 100 college coaches, highlighting our players. We will update both the videos and the emails throughout the course of the year. Some of our guys do camps/showcase through respective colleges or Prep Baseball Report (PBR). I feel like it is our responsibility as coaches to help our guys “move on”.

How do you engage with parents to ensure a collaborative and supportive environment for the team?
We have a parent meeting a week before tryouts and basically outline the entire year and set expectations. We will periodically send out updates as to what is going on with our program and reminders about events coming up. We tell the parents that if there is an issue, they need to have a face to face conversation with the coach. We try not to handle things via email or text. For the most part, our parents are outstanding, and we have very few issues.

What else should we know about your baseball program?
We are extremely excited to get this year going. It has been a good off-season for our players and we are eager to get on the field!



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