Maryville College Head Coach Cody Church Talks Division III Baseball

By Chris Fuller
Director of Operations

Cody Church is in his first season as head baseball coach at Maryville College.  He came to Maryville after a pair of outstanding seasons as an assistant coach at Tennessee Tech University that saw him work with outfielders and hitters as the Golden Eagles racked up back-to-back 40-win seasons in 2013 and 2014.

We recently caught up with Church to discuss a variety of topics including Division III baseball and the Maryville program.

PBR: As a Division III program, what is your approach to recruiting? What type of player are you looking for?

Coach Church: At Maryville, the first thing we look at is quality people. Without the right foundation, talent is irrelevant. A the division III level, there is so much accountability involved due to NCAA time constraints, and players have to be able to be trusted. The next thing we recruit is good athletes. There are a ton of quality high school and junior college baseball players who can compete at our level. That being said, we recruit to fit our system. If there is a good player that we see, but he doesn’t really fit into our system or playing style for that particular position, we will not recruit that player.

At the college level, we are fortunate that we have the ability to “hand pick” the players we want in our program. If we look at a guy and say “I think we could bring him in and teach him how to fit into our system” then we probably shouldn’t go after that kid.

The last thing we really look for is leaders on and off the field. We play a very blue-collar style of baseball and I want players who thrive in that situation. Those are usually guys who are very vocal and keep everyone else accountable.

PBR:  How is the 2015 recruiting class shaping up for the Maryville baseball program and what needs are you still looking to fill?

Coach Church: Our 2015 recruiting class has been going unbelievable. We have a big number of great individuals and baseball players, and really look forward to getting them on our campus. Our recruiting coordinator, Coach Helton, and the rest of our staff have done a phenomenal job.

When I got the job, my first goal was to change the perception of what Maryville College Baseball was. I am willing to not shy away from any recruiting battles, because at the end of the day there is a right “fit” for everyone.

As far as our class goes, we really picked up some momentum and have some great baseball players really excited about their future here at Maryville. As far as current needs, we are getting to a point where we feel really good about where our class is. We will continue to evaluate throughout the winter and spring because we understand there are a lot of quality baseball players out there who could be great additions to our program. 

PBR: Most kids have the desire to play at the highest level possible. How do you help them understand the advantages of playing Division III baseball at Maryville?

Coach Church: I think Division III baseball is outstanding. Many people in this area can have a negative outlook on what Division III baseball is. Division III baseball is truly about giving the best student-athlete experience possible. There is nothing better than college baseball. With that being said, college baseball is truly a platform that prepares you for when baseball is over. Unless you are a hall of famer in the big leagues, baseball will end at some point and it then comes down to the quality of education.

Many times in the recruiting process athletes make their college decision based on where they want to play baseball. While baseball plays a big part of the decision, if that’s your key reason – you are not preparing yourself for life. College isn’t a four year decision. It’s a forever decision. It has to be the right fit academically first and foremost.  

PBR: This is your first year at the helm of the Maryville baseball program.  Where do you envision taking the program in terms of competing at the Division III level?

Coach Church: I have many goals for our program here at Maryville. In terms of baseball goals, my goal is to make it to the World Series. College baseball is all about getting into a tournament. If you get there, that year’s hot team will be the champion. Rarely is it the most talented team on paper. There is no secret about that is where I want to get our team. With that being said, there is a long process involved in that. It is a process that has to take place each day climbing toward that.

PBR: What do you feel sets Maryville apart from other Division III programs?

Coach Church: In my eyes, it takes three things to be successful. 1- Something to sell to recruits. I know Maryville is able to sell a great student-athlete experience and the return on investment for their education received is off the charts. Maryville is also a great place to live with Knoxville being only miles away which can increase the college experience.  2 – Good Local Talent – For recruiting, I consider local as regional-based. When you are local to Knoxville, Johnson City, Nashville, Chattanooga, and Atlanta, it is easy to see how talent-rich of an area we are in. 3 – Good Facilities. Facilities are one of those things where no matter what you have, it is never enough. We have big plans for our facilities, but with what we currently have it is phenomenal. I love our ball field, clubhouse, backdrop, fan support, and everything else that goes along with a facility. I think that is a big selling point for recruits. Luckily, we have all of these criteria, which is what makes me so excited about our future at Maryville College.

PBR: Prep Baseball Report is well established in many nearby states and arrived on the scene in Tennessee in the summer of 2014.  How have you been able to utilize the information that Prep Baseball Report offers to your advantage?

Coach Church: PBR is great for us. We recruit PBR events heavily and many of our current commits attended their events. The website and social media updates are constantly taking place, which makes it a very beneficial site for any coach.