Coach's Corner June 2011
Vince MasseyBrookstone School
by Robert Preston Jr.photography by Jerry Christenson
Massey Finds A Home At Brookstone
|Brookstone School head baseball coach Vince Massey once tried to get away from coaching. In 2005, he turned in his resignation at Northside High School and walked away from baseball, a game that had been an important part of his life since birth. He worked with his father-in-law, Phil Penny, developing subdivisions in the Columbus area. It was about as far from baseball as he could get. But baseball was never very far from him. The son of a successful coach, Massey had little choice when it came to what would eventually be his vocation. It’s not that his father, Parkview High School assistant baseball coach Roy Massey, would push him into coaching. Coaching was simply in Vince Massey’s blood. After a two-year hiatus, he learned that Brookstone was looking for a head baseball coach. And Massey thought it might be time return to the game he loved.|
Vince Massey attended Parkview High School in Lilburn from 1984-1987, where he played baseball and football as quarterback and catcher/pitcher, respectively. He missed Parkview’s gridiron glory days by a few years - when Massey was in high school, Clark Central dominated the region in football. He was on three region championship baseball teams, and made it as far as the semifinals in 1985. During his years at Parkview, he had the opportunity to play for his father, an experience he thoroughly enjoyed.
After leaving Parkview, Massey played two years at Middle Georgia College. The Warriors won the conference championship both years but lost in the regionals. When his two years were up at Middle Georgia, Massey found a home on the Columbus State baseball team. While at CSU, the Cougars went to their division’s World Series when Massey was a junior. His senior year, the Cougars lost in the regionals.
Massey graduated from Columbus State with a major in finance. He was headed for graduate school when CSU head baseball coach Chip Reese made Massey an interesting offer, one that would turn things around for him very quickly. “Coach Reese asked me what I was going to do. I told him I was going to go to grad school. He offered me a job coaching while I was in school,” he says. Massey earned a master’s degree in education and worked as a graduate assistant for two years. “Everything shifted really quickly,” Massey says. “I wasn’t planning on coaching until the Columbus State opportunity opened up. My dad never pushed me into coaching but he has been very supportive of my career.”
When Massey finished his master’s degree, he was actually looking at a few high school positions. But Reese stepped up a second time and offered Massey a job as a full-time assistant coach. “I was happy to take it,” Massey says. He was an assistant coach at Columbus State for 11 years. In his final year with the Cougars, 2002, CSU won the national title.
After the birth of his first son, Banks, Massey began thinking about moving from college to high school. The college baseball season is long and the road trips can be lengthy. He felt a high school job might be a little easier on his growing family. He resigned from Columbus State and took job as the first-ever head baseball coach at Northside High School in Columbus. “I went there when the school opened in 2002. We started with just ninth and 10th graders. We played a JV schedule in all sports that first year,” he says.
The following year, Northside played a non-region varsity schedule. In the third year, Massey’s last with Northside, the Patriots finished fifth in the region and posted an overall record of around .500. “We were building facilities and getting all new stuff. We had a great booster club that raised a great deal of money. They built a great hitting facility. We had tremendous support,” says Massey.
After three years at Northside, a position opened up with P&D Builders, the company his father-in-law owned and operated. The housing market was booming at the time, and P&D was very busy. From 2006-2007, Massey worked in real estate. He says he was so busy that he didn’t have time to think much about baseball. He enjoyed working with P&D, but when things would calm down, his mind would turn to baseball. It was his mother-in-law Dotti Penny who brought him back to coaching. In 2007, she learned that Brookstone needed a new baseball coach. She suggested that Massey seek the job. He maintains that economic instability had nothing to do with his decision to return to coaching. “I got out of the housing market about eight months before things got really bad. Phil is still doing well, though. He’s in the right price range and hasn’t suffered like a lot of developers,” says Massey.
Massey took his mother-in-law’s advice and applied for the Brookstone job. Brookstone offered him the position and he accepted. After a two-year hiatus, he was back in baseball, and he stepped into a pretty good situation. “Brookstone has always had a good tradition. They play good baseball and have always been successful. They have good players, good parents and good administrators,” he says.
The Brookstone tradition has only grown under Massey’s leadership. His style of coaching and the players in the Brookstone program mesh very well. In Massey’s first year at Brookstone, the Cougars reached the Final Four in the state playoffs. They returned to the Final Four in 2009 and 2010, each time losing to Wesleyan. The Wolves won the 2A state title in 2008, then won the 1A championship in 2009 and 2010. The Cougars lost six very good baseball players after the 2010 season. This year, Massey has started five sophomores and two freshmen in every game. “We knew we would be inexperienced this year but we also had talent. We needed to keep our strength of schedule and get these kids some experience. We took some tough losses early on. We don’t have the pitching strength we had last year,” he says. Still, the Cougars are the third seed in the region and had a chance to finish second. “To have the opportunity to finish second after losing six players - I’d take that,” says Massey.
Massey credits his players for the success Brookstone has enjoyed since he’s been there. “They fit my system well. They are very disciplined and they have great work ethic. They’ve bought into what we do,” he says. He also has great support from his parents. They have been a big asset to the program, and they have done a good job teaching their kids right from wrong and the value of hard work. When the players get to Massey, because of what they’ve learned from their parents, they already have the foundation in place to be successful. From that point, it’s up to Massey to mold them into baseball players. He believes that practice is the time for him to do his coaching. When game time rolls around, it’s up to the players to shine. “On the field, coaching comes into play two or three times a year. The kids win the games. I coach at practice, not during games,” he says.
Massey’s job is not without its challenges. The biggest hurdle Massey has to overcome is one that every coach at Brookstone deals with – the lack of numbers. Brookstone has about 180 high school students and the school offers a full slate of sports. Getting enough students to play isn’t easy, and the potential for burnout is high. “We have a number of three-sport athletes, and we can wear out our kids if we’re not careful,” Massey says. Several of the sports overlap, and the coaches must work well together to make everything work out. “We have good coaches in all our sports. We all try to do what’s best for the kids. This year, I played the first few games without four of my starters,” Massey laughs.
Massey and his wife, Amber, have two children: Banks, 11, and Coates, 8. Both attend Brookstone and ride to work every day with their father. Massey is very happy at Brookstone, in part because of the time he gets to spend with his children. Like any professional, he’s always open to opportunity but he doesn’t see himself leaving Brookstone any time soon. He’s in a good situation with good players and a great deal of support. “Right now, I’m very happy where I am,” he says.
Massey knows he wouldn’t be as successful as he’s been if he hadn’t had great mentors along the way. “I was blessed with great coaching as a player and worked under outstanding men as an assistant. My high school coach, Hugh “Buck” Buchanan, taught me humility and discipline. Derek Mann, my college coach, taught me work ethic. The first head coach I worked for, Chip Reece, taught me about managing people. Greg Appleton, who I coached with at Columbus State my last five years, taught me so many things but probably the most important thing was perseverance. I would not be where I am today if it were not for these fine men, along with my dad, who I am still learning from every day,” Massey says. •