The vision of the Dirtbags’ youth program

It can be easy to do, but for any leader, executive, or common man trying to have success at any level, it’s important not to mistake busyness for productivity. Just tending to a task doesn’t automatically make it the right task to allocate time and resources to. Likewise, simply moving doesn’t mean one is moving in the right direction. For a party to reach a desired destination, moving in the proper direction with knowledge of the terrain is pertinent to being able to arrive where wants to be.

If a travel baseball organization is to be one of the best, not just the best in it’s area, state, or region, but one of the best in the entire country, activity needs to be concentrated on the proper efforts and a guided course needs chartered. In short, a clear vision needs established. And that’s exactly what the Dirtbags sought in the implementation of its youth program.

“When I came on, I said we need to have a structured environment, where we get these kids younger and we teach them what it means to be a Dirtbag, the pride that comes with being a Dirtbag, the tradition,” said Dirtbags Youth Director Everett Hancock.

“That was the vision, to do the same type of things there were doing at the showcase level, with our youth teams.”

Hancock is entering his third year of having the vision come to life, leading the direction and operations of the Dirtbags’ youth program. First assisting the Dirtbags in some capacity in 2005, seeing the development and growth of future Major League Baseball players Dustin Ackley and Corey Seager, its with an understanding of the admiration, attention, and respect the Dirtbags draw from coast to coast, is what fuels Hancock to make sure the foundation is as sturdy as possible to support the future of the Dirtbags, year over year.

That foundation starts with directing effort and energy into the person that makes up the player, and showing them a clear path to where they can be with the proper assistance.

“We want to know who your kids are, who your parents are, we want to help you develop as a kid and player, so you know what it means to be a Dirtbag,” Hancock said.

When it comes to developing the player, the importance of doing things the Dirtbag way is instilled early.

“We help develop these players, we have a hands-on approach with these players and the coaches we bring into our program, where it’s more than just uniforms, you’re getting coached the right way.”

Prior to joining the Dirtbags, Hancock was the head coach at North Forsyth for two seasons, after leading Forsyth County Day in 2012. Hancock joined Dirtbags founder Andy Partin at FCD for the 2011 season, after serving six years on staff at Ragsdale. North Carolina baseball in his blood through and through, Hancock was a 28th-round draft pick by the Detroit Tigers in 2012 after a standout career as a left-handed pitcher at North Carolina-Greensboro.

It’s that background of winning baseball at all levels that gives Hancock the necessary credibility to be able to set the course in developing the Dirtbags’ youth, understanding what is exactly needed to excel entering the high school ages, for players with aspirations of playing collegiality or professionally.

“It’s a much easier transition for you to play in our showcase program because you know the expectations, you know what we’re about,” Hancock said of establishing the youth program. “And, we can help you more as a showcase player because now we’ve seen you for two, three, four years, we know who you are so the transition is a lot smoother.”

In two years, Hancock has overseen the growth of the youth program to 25 teams. Excited over the growth that has occurred, Hancock looks to continue to grow the program, but not too extensively. Keeping the team count relatively small is critical to knowing each parent and player, establishing the relationship needed to get the most out of every player that wears a Dirtbag uniform.

“We’d much rather do it that way than say ‘Hey, here’s some uniforms, you can call yourself Dirtbags, and we’ll see you next time when you need some uniforms,'” he said. “It’s much more of an organization, the kids at nine, feel they’re just as much a part of the organization, as much of a Dirtbag as a kid that’s 17 years old.”

Where the program is today, the same expectation of play, how a player is to carry himself, and understanding what it means to be a Dirtbag, is what was desired when Hancock and Partin first laid vision to paper and created a plan.

“As Andy and I had conversations about what we wanted this thing to look like, I said ‘Listen, you’ve worked really hard to build this name, the Dirtbags name, not only here in North Carolina, but one of the top programs in the country, one of the most well-respected programs in the country, why don’t take that vision, that model, to the youth kids?'”

And so they did. With work that yields production, not just busyness, production along a chartered course with a clear path to a final position, the future of the Dirtbags remains as bright as ever; the youth program being an instrumental part of that.