3rd Street Financial/Bull Dawg/Louisville Slugger coach Mike Cruea!
Interview conducted on 12/4/2015
Who are you managing/sponsoring in 2016 and what teams have you been with in the past?
2016 3rd Street Financial/Bull Dawg/Louisville Slugger
2015 TG Brand/Headlines
Why do you like the game of softball?
The friendships you develop. I have meet a lot of really cool people over the years. I have also been very fortunate to have the opportunity to coach a few teams at the conference level. Softball gives me a break away from my 9-5.
Who is the best softball player you have ever seen (by decade if possible)?
On a national level, and since he’s from my area I have got to watch Brian Wegman for many years. A great competitor but an even better person off the field. On the local level, I use to have a kid that played for my local team named Tyler Collins. Flat out one of the most talented kids I've ever meet. One of the best hitters I've ever been around, but he had no desire to travel and play conference ball, so he retired at the age of 25.
Where do you call home?
Huber Heights, OH
What do you do for a living?
I work for Kettering Health Network as a Medicaid On-Boarding Specalist.
What is your softball background as a player?
I played a few season back in 2001-2004. I had knee and back problems from college. In 2004 after my 3rd ACL injury I gave up playing but still wanted to be around my friends so I started coaching. Something that started as a once a week fun league got serious as the years grew.
How did you get your start in softball and how did you get to the upper level?
Played Local leagues. Started a weekend tournament team, added new players each year. Won a few tournaments, ended up winning 2013 USSSA C Worlds, and next thing I know we are playing in the conference. That team only lasted one year due to money issues. I was very fortunate to meet Justin Green from TG and was given the opportunity to coach TG last year. After TG split, I was approached by Rob from 3rd Street and that is where I will be this season.
What is your teams goal for 2016?
To win USSSA A Worlds and qualify for the Major World Series.
Where do you look for talent?
I am a GSL director in my hometown so I am at the park a lot. There is always good talent in leagues. A lot of the time that is where former baseball players get their start as unknowns. As for looking for players to help fill conference positions I look at more than just talent. I look for guys that have chemistry and will fit in with our team. If you don’t have chemistry I don’t believe your team can be successful.
How do you evaluate players?
Obviously they have to have talent, but like I said earlier, a good chemistry guy and take a team to the next level. I truly believe a team with less talent but great chemistry can compete at the highest levels.
What is your favorite sports team?
CFB Florida Gators
NFL Kansas City Chiefs
MLB Tampa Bay Rays
CBB Cincinnati Bearcats
Do you have any superstitions and if so, what are they?
What is your most memorable softball moment?
Easily it was in 2013. It was more like a memorable week. We use to always have a pick up team go to WSL in Panama City Beach and play in the WSL C Worlds. When we had put the team together for 2013 I remember telling the sponsor "I hope we are just going down here to have fun, we don't stand a chance." Next thing I know our team (The Slumpbesters) was in the finals only needing 1 more out. I was truly a great experience, the 2nd ring I had ever won(won GSL C Worlds in 2012). But with the team we had that won I was very surprised. 3 days later my team Cooper took the field in USSSA C Worlds. Having been to USSSA Worlds for 7-8 straight years and only having a winning record 1 times, expectations weren’t what you would call through the roof. Next thing I know its Saturday afternoon and we are in the final 4. That’s where I took one of the worst losses in my softball career 8-4 in 9 innings. I thought we blew our chance. But the team that showed up Sunday I had no doubt that we were winning worlds and that’s what we did double dipping Eagle Paint in the finals.
What improvement/changes would you like to see in upper level softball that could bring in more sponsors?
I honestly don't know what changes could bring more sponsors. I know when I sponsored my own C team it was all about the money that kept me from continueing on. I knew the events we needed to go to, to be competetive and to have a chance at "cashing in" because at the end of the day making the top 36 and getting that check and free rooms was big to a small budget team. I've not really been a fan of restricting teams to a certain amout of major players. I know as a sponsor, if I wanted to play A or Major I wanted the best players possible for the money i'm going to spend.
What is your favorite non-World tournament?
Dayton Slugfest or City Slam at Brian Wegmans Park in Cincnnati MAB
Who was the best team in softball history?
I haven't been around the game for that long, but I’m not sure I've seen a team as dominate as Precision in 2014 in B. But overall how can I not say Resmondo, they are there every year, they keep the same players, chemistry has to mean something.
What is the funniest thing you have ever seen on a softball field?
Last year watching Ryan Harvey miss a ball and hit a line drive at our 3rd baseman Ryan Noe in the late game at the Smoky Mountain Classic. It almost took his head off, the next time Harvey was up I believe we were playing with 2 Left Fielders.
What is your favorite way to spend an off weekend?
Most my off weekend are spent at my park running tournaments or concessions.
What advice can you give a young player who is trying to move to the upper level?
With the push this year from USSSA to move teams up I see a lot of teams complaining. I would cherish the moment that people think your team is good enough to move up. Believe me the higher you go the more someone is watching, you might not see them but they are watching. There was a pitcher last year from Hub City that I got to see a few times and I was very impressed, the team was very good and he was a leader on the field. His name I believe is Bill Pinkham, and I’m sure Bill has no idea who I even am, but I told myself at the end of last year he would be playing conference next year, and if my sources serve me correct he’s with The Scene. So just keep playing the game hard, someone is watching.