Wednesday June 3rd, 2020
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2020 Free Agent Nate Holcomb

 Nate Holcomb

USSSA Playing History

 

Who are you playing with in 2020?

2020 Free Agent – NHHITIT99@gmail.com

What positions do you play and what is your best position?

1B/C/P/EH/3B

Who is the best softball player you have ever seen play?

The best all around player I have seen play is Todd Martin.  When I first got the chance to play upper level softball, Todd and I would take bp all the time. He went hard after every ground ball in bp, like it was a game.  Then he would hit and just effortlessly put it anywhere he wanted to, all over the yard and then when he wanted to, could hit it as far as anybody.  And I had the opportunity to play with Johnny McCraw.  JMac taught me a lot, and was always willing to help me in any way.  He is an absolute stone cold hitter, great OF, and one of the greatest competitors this game has ever had. 

Why do you like the game of softball?

It still keeps my competitive juices going since my baseball days ended, and it's a release to get out there away from teaching and coaching teenagers.

Who is the best up and coming player in softball and why?

I love to watch my little buddy Luis Reyna-aka Boo Boo.  He's been around for a few years now, but when he came with us with Suncoast in 2009, I knew then he would be something special.  But its hard to name just one. The game is so full of great up and coming players, that aren't up and coming any more. They've arrived and their names are household names in the softball community.

What is your nickname in softball and how did you get it?

Everybody now just calls me Big Nate or 9's.  Forever tho, it was Derby.  Donnie Wilson pinned that on me a long time ago.

What is your height and weight?

6'8" tall and 255

Where do you call home?

Watertown, TN.  A really small town about 35 miles east of Nashville.

What's your favorite way to spend an off weekend?

I always love to spend time with my wife and kids. My wife is a coach as well, so things can be hectic.  So we take advantage of our time, when we can. My kids are 8 and 7 right now, so it's a lot of fun.  They play all sports. But in the fall and winter though, you can find me in a tree somewhere with my bow in hand waiting on big buck.

What do you do for a living?

I am a high school teacher and baseball coach.

Did you play sports in High School / College / Pro?

I played all sports in high school, and then went on to play baseball after that.

How did you get your start in softball and how did you get to the upper level?

I got started playing when I was young with some high school buddies.  After a college baseball season, I would always find a league team to play with.  Then when baseball was over, I got asked to play on a really good D team from around the house.  Played with them for about a year, and then I started to meet a lot of guys that played upper level softball from NC where I lived. I met Bobby Nifong, and he gave me a chance to come and play with him in a couple of pick up tournaments.  He contacted Johnny McCraw and Don Cooper from Combat, and the rest is history.  They gave me a chance and I have tried to play the game the right way ever since.

What was the most surprising difference between Conference play and non-Conference play when you made the jump?

The pace of play and the pitching.  The game moves so much faster, and the balls that normally went through didn't, and balls in the gap weren't just easy stand up doubles.  And you don't see a knuckle ball like Andy's around the house, that's for sure.  And for the most part, the trash talking is just fun and games in the Conference. Once in a while it gets a little out of hand, but its way better than the drunk idiots in the backyard boogies thinking they can whip the world.

Is there a player that you would compare your game to?

Not really.  I always tried to make my game like Rusty Bumgardner and the late Dirk Androff, just because they were big and tall like me.  When I finally realized I wasn't gonna be them, and just needed to work on my game to be able to the right thing and hit the hard as many times as possible, I got much better.

What would you say is your career highlight to this point? Maybe one play or game that sticks out to you in particular?

First, would be being able to come back and play after my broken back in 2010, and hitting a homerun my first at bat of the Smoky Mountain Classic in 2011 at Maryville College against Primetime.  (Then a collision at the plate later in that same game…sorry Chevy lol) It was a long road from the first day in the hospital in September of 2010, to that point.  The other would be a homerun I hit in 2007, with GTL against Long Haul at the Dudley that ended up being a game winner, to put us to Sunday.  That year our GTL team lost our first game of the tournament and won like 10 in a row to get to Sunday.  

In your career was there a single person (player/manager/coach) who had the most significant impact on your approach to the game? Why?

Todd Martin.  Our bp sessions were more like a practice.  And when he talked, I listened with open ears.  I would also drive down to Gastonia, NC and meet JMac, Rusty and Hallsy for bp early in my career too.  They would hit tons of balls and work on their game.  I knew then, if I wanted to hang around with them, I had to work at it.  Jose Sanchez was great to me as well. He has been great for the game. All the guys that I played with on GTL.  Were young no names then, but now lots are on their way to Hall of Fame careers. The friendships made with our Suncoast teams with Lee and DRock and the boys and a huge shout out to my Primetime Family.  I got to play with those guys for a year, and it was great!  Earl Bryant, Lee Daniels, Dennis Davison and Keyma Wright are some of the best players, leaders and friends the game could ever give. 

What advice can you give a young player trying to break into the upper level?

Work hard on your game in bp, don't just hit bombs.  Take lots of ground balls or fly balls.  Lots of defense in this game now.  And don't cheat the game.  

What type of batting grip do you use and what ounce bat?

I use an overlap grip and swing either 26.5 or 27 oz bats.

What do you do in the offseason to prepare for the next softball season?

I lift, do cross fit, and some yoga 5 days a week.  Then chase my kids when I get home. That's more of a workout in itself.

What is your favorite sports team and your favorite sport other than softball?

I'm a Yankee fan.  And will always be a Tarheel. But since moving to TN, I have become a big Vanderbilt fan.  And hate UT orange…And baseball is my favorite sport.

Do you have any superstitions and if so, what are they?

I hate to think I'm superstitious, because I don't think I am.  But 3 things I always do the same in a game.

1. Never step on a foul line.

2. Always put my left batting glove on first.

3. Always build me a little "sand castle" in the front of the batters box to stand on.

And before each game, I always drink a Monster and eat a Kit Kat…JMac put me onto that years ago.  And I've just never gone away from it.

What would be your "at bat" music selection?

Superman theme song

What is the best improvement upper level softball could make?

Limit the number of major players on a team across the board.  Make it like 7.  But I think the major list would need to be redone to do that.  But I do think, for what its worth, the upper level is doing well.  And giving guys the opportunity to move up if they have the skill.

What is your favorite non-World tournament and why?

The Smoky Mountain Classic.  I grew up not far from it, and living in TN now, we have a lot of pride in that tournament.  Not to mention, the atmosphere is unlike anywhere else.

What is the best softball field/complex you have played at and why?

Disney will always top this list.  But the Summit in Chattanooga, TN is nice as is the Sports Plex in Murfreesboro, TN, and Drake's Creek in Hendersonville, TN. Maybe the Music City could come back to one of these places?   Cause rain doesn't hang around long on either of those parks at all.

Where is the best place to eat on the road after a game?

Buffalo Wild Wings

What is the funniest thing you have ever seen on a softball field?

At the Dudley, in 2007, when our GTL team was on our roll of 10 in a row, we had to play Long Haul to make it to Sunday.  And JC Phelps was catching.  Well there's a pop up right behind the catcher.  As the ball is coming down, JC is trying to avoid hitting the Softball Kingdom scaffold, and jumps up into the fence.  He hits his index finger on the fence, that's sticking out of his glove.  Needless to say he missed the ball.  We get the out on the next pitch.  He comes the dugout hollerin, "my finger Kevin, my finger…oh it hurts.."  Talkin to Filby.  Jose looks at him, and then we just all look at him.  And then whole team just busts out laughin.   And then at the Smoky, JC hits a homerun, finishes down on one knee, and yells at the LF to "Get off the fence Peter Pan." Both were super funny, and anyone that knew JC, knows he was like that all the time. The other was seeing Ryan Robbins, miss ya bud, strike out swinging–and I mean swinging hard, in the championship game at the conference in 2010 with Suncoast off Andy.  Gets back in the dugout, we're all trying not to laugh at him, and he just says "Say bub that was a pretty good one there.."  And the whole team just loses it.  Needless to say he gets another chance that inning, and hit a grand slam.  

Tell us something about you that most would never know about you?

I love to sing.  I travel and sing at a lot of different churches now. Jesus Christ changed my life, and I try to tell that to as many people as possible.  Also, I was featured in a TV series called "Fight to Survive" on The Outdoor Channel.  It was a 10 show series and my show is the season finale.  The series is about people who have had terrible accidents while being in the outdoors.  And my show gives the full story of my accident and recovery from my hunting accident in 2010, 3 days before the Major World Series.

What was your favorite sports related gift you have ever given or received?

My all world trophy from the Major.  And then I have the first Combat I was ever sent in 2005, and got it signed by most all of the upper level players from NC at that time.  Its got 10 signatures on it, and 5 are in the Hall of Fame.  Hopefully my kid will think its pretty cool one day.

 

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