To say that Aaron Klotz has baseball in his blood would be an understatement. As a player at Adrian (Mi.) College (1995-1998), he was the 1997 MVP of Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Immediately following his playing career he began coaching at Adrian, helping the Bulldogs to five MIAA titles, six NCAA Regionals appearances, and a fourth place finish in the 2008 Division III World Series. Klotz began the Adrian Dirtbags youth baseball program and is an Associate Scout for the Texas Rangers, and his father Gene is a retired collegiate umpire of 30 years. His latest project, Skippers Dugout, disseminates college baseball coaching job information at all levels of the game, and according to Klotz, was a ‘no-brainer.’
“A close friend of mine is an assistant coach at a major program and was in the running for a head job a couple years ago. When he didn’t get the job, we talked and said baseball should have something similar to www.footballscoop.com, a place where coaches can see and get information about jobs. In this day and age of social media and internet, it was a no-brainer. I know the footballscoop.com guys, picked their brains and started a Twitter account one night. I had 100 followers in 15 minutes and the rest is history. The website followed a couple months later.”
“I get e-mails all the time saying ‘I’m down here at East Cobb, such and such from this program was just saying they saw on SkippersDugout.com that Joe Schmo is getting this job.’ Pretty crazy to hear that. Word travels fast, especially with social media.”
Keeping it simple and relying on trusted contacts developed through years of experience in the game was a recipe for success.
“Our original goal was to get the word out on openings around the country,” said Klotz. “We did this for the coaches and our friends that our coaches. In no way, shape or form did we want to be a ‘breaking news’ source and compete against the national guys. We just want to keep everyone in the know and to help coaches network, advance and learn about openings.”
“Since we rely primarily on coaches to feed us info, it can be tricky, especially when you hear that someone has been let go. It’s not necessarily news you want to broadcast, but it’s part of the job. However, I have had coaches contact me that have been let go and want to know what’s going on, so it’s a two way street.”
“We may break news first cause we had an in, but we are not trying to be the ‘ESPN’ of coaching news. We are simply trying to relay info to the college coaching community. It’s pretty evident by the emails, texts and calls I get from random coaches across the country that there is a need.”
“College baseball has become such a big business;” Klotz continues, “if we can help someone achieve his dream job or learn about new job, that’s our goal. I can’t tell you how many emails we have received thanking us for helping a coach learn about or get a job. Once we started getting that feedback, we knew it was real.”
There are no subscriptions, memberships or other charges associated with using Skippers Dugout either, it’s 100% free. “Thanks to ProGrass Synthetic Turf, who has become the official sponsor of Skippers Dugout, we don’t charge coaches to use our site,” Klotz adds.
ProGrass Synthetic Turf provides the synthetic turf solutions for every level of performance demands, and has manufactured and installed over 500 full size fields in the past ten years, including the University of Louisiana-Lafayette’s M.L. Tigue Moore Field, host site of the 2014 NCAA Lafayette Regional.
Klotz, a former coach himself, knows the value of having a free tool like Skippers Dugout at one’s disposal. He offers some advice to aspiring some coaches:
“Everyone has dreams and goals. Some want to coach in a small school setting and are fine with doing that their whole life. Many young coaches are hungry and want to advance to the highest possible level, which is great, but coaching is coaching, no matter what level you do it at. You better have a passion for young people and you better love the game. If you lose sight of why you started coaching, your time will be short-lived in this business. Kids these days can see right through you and will see you’re more about yourself than the team. The good ones make it, the fake ones don’t.”
Ultimately, Klotz would like to see Skippers Dugout come up with its own coaching awards and continue to find unique ways to promote coaches, among other things.
“We hope to one day do coaches awards across the board, at all levels. Some of the little guys don’t get the recognition they deserve. I don’t care what level, if you can coach you can coach, and we’d like to recognize them. We’d also like to continue to showcase coaches with video interview series. We’d like to be able to show that pitching coach from a small DIII school in Michigan to the nation. Then one day when he’s applying for that job in South Carolina, coaches have had a chance to see his coaching style before they even interview them. More or less provide a platform to showcase coaches on our site. The college game has become a marketing machine, like or not, and if we can help provide that platform, we want to do that. We want to help coaches get known.”