Bond Crosby has coached baseball, football and basketball at Meadowcreek. (Photo: Christine Troyke)
Bond Crosby was promoted to head baseball coach from assistant at Meadowcreek a few weeks ago and is also an assistant with the football program.
In this installment of "Getting to Know ...", the Valdosta native talks to staff writer Christine Troyke about a variety of topics, including a fortuitous decision to hang out in Atlanta an extra day, the strides Meadowcreek is making in baseball and what you need to go with a good fastball.
CT: Bond is a cool name. Is it a family name?
BC: It is a family name. It's my mom's grandmother's maiden name.
CT: You were just promoted from assistant to head coach for baseball a few weeks ago. What did you see from the team this year as the assistant that you're looking forward to working with/on next season?
BC: As far as what we're working with, there's definitely some guys that have a good amount of talent that are returning. We are losing only one senior and he did provide us with leadership. So that will be something that we're going to need to fill. You've always got to have leadership on any good team.
I'm looking forward to having the younger guys where some of their best baseball is still in front of them. Will it be this season? I don't know. It'd be great if it did. That's something as a coach, I'm going to have to work to develop and push them.
A lot of the guys have a pretty good work ethic. They're excited to play baseball. We just have to tap into that and really get quality reps. You can do something a thousand times and if it's not done the right way, it really doesn't do you any good.
Coach Reeves has definitely laid a good foundation with the guys coming back, making the most of practice time. Quick, efficient and effective practices. Because if you have kids out there for 2 -1/2 or three hours, they can lose interest. School is their job. Baseball should be a fun part, a way to get out there and be around other student athletes. To grow socially, emotionally, mentally and physically as well.
CT: You're making the move back to a region schedule next season in part because of the progress made this year. Are the guys ready?
BC: We're definitely going to find out one way or another. But I think so. We have a couple good arms, a couple good bats. We can always use more of both and once again that will be on me to find those and develop those. The schedule we're stepping into is going to be no joke. The region is traditionally one of the super powers of the state.
There's a lot of great baseball being played up here in Gwinnett County. I knew that growing up down in south Georgia. We recognized that if anybody was going to make a deep run out of Region 1, it was going to roll through Gwinnett. That hasn't changed from the time I was in school to now. If anything, the level of competition and caliber of player has increased.
It was really pretty shocking to me that more teams from Region 7 didn't advance further. I guess that just means they ran into some really good teams. It's baseball. Sometimes it's going to go your way and sometimes it's not.
CT: It's tough in some respects, isn't it, because in a lot of other counties, it would be a different story for Meadowcreek's programs? It's not easy playing here.
BC: It has its various challenges. It's just a matter of finding that one or two wins that will break through. There's smoke coming from a couple of different places. They say where's there's smoke, there's fire. So hopefully that fire will start burning and burn bright and long.
It is a tough, very challenging region. Even some of the schools in the surrounding area are at a very high level. You an tell there is a lot of good coaching at the youth level.
CT: You coached the JV baseball team this season and there hadn't been enough people for a JV team in some time. So that goes a long way to being successful down the road?
BC: I firmly believe that there's no practice rep that can do what a game rep does for you. Game speed is a whole other level. With the JV addition this year, we were able to get some guys that might not have had as many looks as many innings on the varsity level some complete games. We went 4-4 with the JV and we were right in there with three of the losses. Our first loss, we got the brakes beat off of us.
But as we started winning more with JV, even at the varsity level with the JV guys coming in, they just walked to the plate with more confidence. If we had a JV pitcher throw a varsity inning, he went to the plate with more confidence. It was definitely a solid decision to bring back the JV team.
CT: Are you a position coach for football?
BC: I'm the ninth-grade head coach and we were actually able to get our first win in a while last year. There's a good amount of talent on the team. Whether we caught Lanier on the right day or not, I don't know, but I felt like our team could have won more games.
The past two seasons, I've been special teams coordinator and then this year, in the spring right now, I'm working with quarterbacks.
And the other day I was pumping up the footballs. So whatever it is, to try and make the team better, the program better, the school better, I'll do.
CT: Where in south Georgia did you grow up?
BC: Valdosta. I went to Valdosta High. The good one. (laughing)CT: You played baseball?
BC: I played a lot of baseball. That was what I focused on. I ran a little cross country.
CT: What was your college decision-making process like?
BC: There were a couple smaller schools that inquired about me. But I either thought I was better than I was or maybe just didn't have the patience to go to a smaller school. I went to Georgia College and State in Milledgeville.
Long story short, I had a science lab that day and I informed the coach. He said, "If you're not academically eligible, I can't use you anyway, so go to the lab and then come out, pitchers are going to throw last."
I got out there and they had swapped the tryout around. I went up to the coach and he said, "I know who you are and you're late for the tryout."
That nipped my career, unfortunately, as far as playing goes. But it kind of just allowed me to become a bigger student of the game. I definitely learned from that experience and grew from that experience. I should have been willing to accept maybe a smaller school and either moved to a bigger school or really enjoyed my time at the smaller school. When you're 18, you can be pretty stubborn.
I didn't have the Braves knocking down my door saying, "Hey, Bond, would you like to skip college and come play for us?" I knew I wasn't quite on that level yet, but still.
CT: What was your best pitch?
BC: Probably my fastball. It wasn't that I necessarily threw it that hard, but I felt like I could hit my spots. I threw it consistently in the mid-80s. I could run it up there in the upper 80s.
But I would be able to spot my fastball and pitch off of it. My curveball and my change-up worked well also.
I grew up in the era of Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine nibbling at the corners and teaching people how to change the pace. I believe Greg Maddux once said, hitting is timing, so pitching should be throwing off timing. That's, I guess, the kind of philosophy I adopted. Now, of course, I also loved seeing (John) Smoltz blow the fastball by people. But that wasn't something I was necessarily gifted with.
CT: You went to college wanting to play baseball. What was the career plan?
BC: I didn't sign with anybody, so my plan was to walk on and maintain my grades so I could stay in school, whether I was going to play ball again or not. I went to school with the HOPE grant scholarship so most of the stuff was paid for.
But I wanted to earn an athletic scholarship as well. Even if it was a partial. Just to say, hey, I did it. I set my goal when I was young to earn a scholarship and I guess, with HOPE, I did. But I thought it would be for throwing a baseball.
I went into college with the aim to major in education. Maybe I majored a little bit at the beginning of my college career in fraternity. So I wasn't going to get into the teaching cohort. I talked to my advisor and she said, "You can still become a teacher, you're just going to have to go an alternative route."
So I majored in political science and minored in criminal justice. Then I got certified through GACE to teach and I'm working on the clear renewable certificate. Eventually I plan to get my master's -- and, heck, maybe even doctorate. My granddad was a doctor of philosophy and he was the dean of Oxford College at Emory. My dad always said he wanted to have a doctor for a son. I think he wanted a medical doctor (laughing). But if "Dr." is at the front of my name, I don't think he'd say too much about that.
CT: Once you graduated, what did you end up doing?
BC: I went to Augusta and as soon as I got there, I waited tables, just to make sure I was going to be able to pay rent. I tell you what, I learned a lot about people while I was waiting tables. And a different respect for those in the service industry.
Then I started working with Aflac. I had some success with that, but I was still coaching middle school baseball. I coached that for two years and we were pretty successful. We went 9-1 my first year and then 10-0 my next year. Then I coached an 11- and-12-year-old team with the rec league because my day wasn't going to allow me to get to the middle school at 2:30 p.m. It really kind of cut into the business day.CT: How did you end up in Gwinnett?
BC: My brother and sister-in-law live in Atlanta and I'd come into town to visit them. It was a Sunday and I said, "I think I'll just get up and drive back in Monday morning."
Then one of my fraternity brothers, Dustin Afman, who's a coach here (at Meadowcreek), he calls me and asks what I'm doing. I told him. He says, "OK, hold on." A little while later I get a call from Coach (Deario) Grimmage. He wanted to see if there would be a time he could interview me.
I said, "Actually, I decided to stay in town." It was almost like God said, "Hey, you need to hang out in Atlanta because you're about to get your call."
I met with him that Monday morning. I guess he saw some value in me and decided to bring me on staff. Since then, it's been fun. There have been some challenging times, but overall, it's been what I wanted to do.
CT: What do you like to do with your free time if you have it?
BC: I like just hanging out with friends and my girlfriend and my brother and sister-in-law. Not trying to knock Valdosta, but there's a couple more things to do in Atlanta. There just always seems to be something to do.
I love, love catching Braves games or Falcons games.
CT: Do you have any favorite vacation spots?
BC: My aunt and uncle have a duplex down in Jekyll Island. That's kind of the vacation spot we went to as a family because it was only two hours from Valdosta. I do also like the lake. My sister-in-law's family has a place up in Tennessee that's a really cool spot.