Georgia State baseball coach Greg Frady had a busy spring. After setting a school record with 39 wins, the Panthers earned their first conference championship and NCAA Tournament bid by winning the Colonial Athletic Association tournament in May. He was rewarded with a new five-year contract earlier this week.
The summer figures to be just as active for the Lawrenceville resident, who will be off to Prince George, British Columbia, to coach Germany's national team at the 2009 World Baseball Challenge from July 16-26.
However, Frady had enough time to chat with Daily Post staff writer David Friedlander about GSU's recently completed historic season, the future of the Panthers' program and his involvement with Team Germany.
DF: You've been pretty busy since the end of the college baseball season. How has GSU's success this season changed things for your program?
GF: I think the foundation of what we do is still the same. We're still working hard. We're still recruiting. We're still dealing with players. We're still working with the academic part. All of those things are the same. But the public awareness has increased greatly, and with that has come a lot of people contacting us - alumni, former players, boosters, fans of the program. Now, interest from recruits has probably quadrupled. ... It's been a good thing and we're really thrilled about the public awareness and how this has been working for our baseball organization.
DF: This season is really the culmination of several years of building the program dating back to when you were an assistant to former coach (now GSU administrator) Mike Hurst. Take us through how this year's success was built and where you believe GSU is in the building process.
GF: I do believe this year is the product of building for many years. When a team has success, it's directly related to previous teams. (NOTE: This season's 39 wins broke the old mark of 33 wins set last year. It is the first time the Panthers have put together back-to-back winning seasons and only the fourth winning season in the history of the program.) ... I think all the things that have gone on in years past have put this team in a position to be successful.
Today, Georgia State baseball is operating at a higher level internally as far as budget (is concerned). Things are accessible to us. Some teams in the past may have had to sacrifice in some areas to put this team in position. Now, with the accomplishments of this team, next year's team will get a little more. That's just the way things work when you're winning.
DF: Given the success other programs like Georgia Tech, Georgia and Georgia Southern have had over the years, how tough has it been to build Georgia State into a serious contender?
GF: It's very difficult. (Given) the nature of college baseball today, it's hard for any school to be really good and competitive. But that doesn't stop us. The state of Georgia is a very fertile recruiting ground, and we start in the city of Atlanta.
Our recruiting philosophy starts here, and a big part of that recruitment is Gwinnett County. If you look at our roster, we have a lot of Gwinnett County boys (NOTE: Six players on this year's roster are former Gwinnett players.)
I'm a Gwinnett County resident. My children attend Parkview High School. I know this area very well and I think the high school coaches do a very good here. Gwinnett County schools are always prepared and they're going to get a high-quality athlete come out of here.
DF: The success of your program this spring is the latest of several GSU programs that appear to be on the rise, along with perennial postseason participants like men's and women's golf and women's tennis. How do you think the addition of football will affect your program and all of GSU's sports?
GF: First off, I'm excited about football coming to Georgia State. I have a close working relationship with (Panthers football) Coach Bill Curry. We're in the process right now of even having some joint football/baseball player recruits. That's something I did when I was (an assistant coach) at (Central Florida).
So, I'm excited about football. Football is a monster and a monster needs to be fed. Certainly, it's going to take a lot to get football up and off the ground at Georgia State. However, with that being said, I think baseball is standing its ground and doing its own thing and I'm confident we're going to continue to grow as a program.
In the short term, there's going to be a big public interest to see what's going to happen with Georgia State football, which is going to bring an increase to all athletics at Georgia State. And in the long term, hopefully, we become a complete, multi-sport athletic department and everybody's doing well.
DF: For the last five years, you've been the head coach of the German National Team. How did you become so heavily involved in baseball over there?
GF: I was working at UCF in Orlando in 2004 and the German National Team job came open because they lost all seven games in the European Championships and they fired their coach. If you're familiar with different sports (in Europe) like soccer, there's a relegation process. The top 12 teams stay in the 'A' pool. The bottom two teams are relegated down. So, the Germans got sent to the 'B' pool.
The German government told (the county's baseball governing body) they had one year to get back into the 'A' pool or they were going to drop funding for baseball. So they had a job opening and they had to win and part of my M.O. is that I like to try to take things that are down and try to build them up. So, an international scout for the Atlanta Braves named Court Hall contacted the German government and told them I would be a good fit for them. ... I contacted them back and said I'd have an interest in talking with them. A representative from the German Baseball Federation came to Orlando and interviewed me, and that's how it began.
At the time, I was 40 years old and I'd been working in college baseball (a long time) and I thought it would be a good, different route to take - something off the beaten path. I moved to Germany for six months and I worked with a lot of good people there to revamp that program. We went back and won the 'B' pool, then got back in the 'A' pool and finished fourth - the highest finish in German history - qualified for the World Cup for the first time in German history. ... We missed the (2008) Olympics by (just) three spots.
DF: On a related note, I'm sure you're pretty upset that baseball has been dropped as an Olympic sport after the 2008 Games in Beijing. Given your involvement in the game internationally, are you involved in the movement to have it reinstated to the Olympics?
GF: Yes I am, to some degree. ... (Coaching international baseball) is probably one of the greatest professional developments I've ever had. When you're coaching the Cuban national team, the Japanese national team, the Korean national team, the USA national team, the Canadians, the Australians, the Mexicans, the Venezuelans - this is the highest level of baseball in the world outside of (major league) organizations.
As far as the Olympics go, it is the job of all of us who are involved in international baseball to continue to try to promote (the game) and get information sent to the (International Olympic Committee) to say, 'Let's get baseball back on the Olympic program.' My opinion is that baseball stands a very, very strong chance to get back on the program.
I think one of the reasons it got off the program was that there were some (nations) reluctant to send professional players to the Olympics. And drug testing policies - they weren't apples to apples when it was IOC vs. what some other organizations had. ... I think when we can get past the posturing, the egos and all this, I think you've got a chance to see baseball back.
DF: So, what's next?
GF: Well, right now, we're trying to finish our recruiting cycle (at GSU) for this year and starting recruiting for next year. We've got our team in place for next year.
We really feel like we have a chance to be very competitive next year. We lost a lot of guys from this year's team, but we think next year's team possibly has a chance to be better than this year's team. So we're excited about that.
As far as the German team, I'll leave on July 15 to go to Canada for the World Baseball (Challenge). It's a great tournament there.