Stepping into the Collegiate League of the Palm Beaches as a head coach for the first time is no easy feat, however when interviewed about the Palm Beach Snowbirds’ upcoming season, the new incoming skipper said he is looking forward to the opportunity of developing young talent and overseeing the ‘Birds this summer.
TJ Wharton is the Recruiting and Performance Coordinator for the Maryville College Scots, however he has experience head coaching for multiple collegiate leagues, such as the Great Lakes and Virginia Beach League. He was even employed as a bullpen catcher and performance science assistant for the New York Yankees. When asked about how he can use his coaching experience for his upcoming role, he said “I learned a lot of valuable lessons. The Virginia Beach League is especially similar to the Palm Beach League because all of the games are played at the same site. I’m looking forward to this summer because we have more resources in our hands [than in the past] to help these kids get better.”
Coach Wharton was a first-team all-conference designated hitter for the D2 Southeast regional champion Catawba College in 2015, along with experience at the D1 and JUCO levels. He also played in the Cape Cod League as a catcher, designated hitter, and third baseman. He mentioned how his playing career made him a more well-rounded coach, saying “I definitely have seen the game from many different angles, which I am thankful for. Coming out of college, it was either being a baseball coach or a strength coach. I always had that strength coach mindset when it comes to learning and teaching how the body moves.”
Wharton also talked about his coaching mindset and philosophy with the Snowbirds: “A lot of guys just need confidence. When you tell someone they have a major league skillset they don’t believe you because they put the major leagues on such a high pedestal. There are a lot of guys that have professional attributes, it is just the time and effort they put into it, and confidence is huge. Overall, my job as a head coach is to put them in a position to succeed and let them know they can be confident.”
Wharton made it clear that his preparation for this summer season is going to be drastically different than prepping for his college team’s season. According to him, knowing his role and the goals of these players are imperative to a successful summer season: “All of these players are coming down [to the CLPB] to become better for their college programs. They’re not coming down here to win a championship, even though it would be nice. Everyone is coming down here to become a better version of themselves. What drew me to this league is that we have time to work on what these players need to get better at, and it’s not all about winning games.”
When asked what he was most looking forward to, Wharton said “I do it for the relationships. I could never work in a cubicle, I would say that. I love being outside, it’s a beautiful area. I’m coaching baseball with a bunch of good dudes. I think that in the college baseball realm, there are very few chances you can have to build a routine and quality of life. I believe the CLPB does this for both players and coaches. We don’t travel very much, so we have time to build a routine over the summer, which I value, and the players do too. What I would say I’m looking forward to might be different than most, but I’m excited to build my own routine and help the players do the same.”