Hodge and Salter hope to influence youth with baseball

Published 4:00 am Saturday, July 2, 2011

Former W.S. Neal Eagle and JDCC Warhawk Daniel Hodge always thought of the game of baseball as his time to shine.
Using that along with other opportunities allowed Hodge to take his love of the game this summer and instill in a younger generation of players as he coached a Babe Ruth team this 2011 season.
Hodge, 24, was born in Pensacola and lived in Gordo, Alabama until he was 5.
“I moved to Brewton and have lived here ever since,” Hodge said. “I went to W. S. Neal High School and graduated in 2005. From there, I attended JDCC and graduated with an Associate Degree in May of 2007. After JDCC, I attended and graduated from the University of Alabama in May of 2010 with a Bachelors Degree in Secondary Education – Mathematics. I am currently employed at W.S. Neal High School where I teach Algebra and Geometry.”
In high school, Hodge played baseball and was a five-year starter for the Eagles on the diamond as well as a one-year starter on the football field.
“In ninth grade, I practiced with the golf team, but ultimately chose baseball over golf and never participated in a golf match,” Hodge said. “At JDCC, I played two years of baseball. I started playing baseball when I was six years old and played competitively until I was 20 years old.”
Hodge said baseball was and is his opportunity to get away from everything.
“It provides me with a chance to forget about everything from school to work to other things, and go out and enjoy the game like a kid does,” Hodge said. “Baseball is also my time to shine. I wasn’t the greatest player, but I loved and knew how to play the game the way it should be played. That is attributed to all the support that I received from family and coaches.”
Hodge said he wanted to coach Babe Ruth this year because he has in the past, and being currently finished with college, the opportunity presented itself, and he gladly accepted.
“I have coached Babe Ruth in past years,” Hodge said. “For this past school year I was an assistant football and track coach at W. S. Neal High School. I am currently in the teaching/coaching field.”
While he has been a player and seen life as a coach, Hodge said coaching is different from playing in the fact that you notice the little things about the game more on the outside of the lines.
“It is much easier to analyze and diagnose things when you are coaching compared to actually being on the field,” Hodge said. “When playing baseball, I was always focused on what I needed to do if the ball was hit to me or being ready to hit a fastball. As a coach, I definitely do not have a one-track mind. I enjoy coaching almost as much as I did actually playing the game. Being around the game and being able to impart my knowledge is something that I enjoy doing regardless of the age of the kids.”
While he enjoys coaching, Hodge said coaching kids close to his age can be difficult at times.
“At times it is difficult coaching kids so close to my age because many of them see me as a friend rather than a coach,” Hodge said. “However, being just ten years older to them, I can relate to them better, and it is easier to understand where they are coming from.”
Hodge said while many people play the game of baseball, he wishes that more would give the game a chance.
“You don’t have to have physiques like in basketball or football,” Hodge said. “You can be successful at the game of baseball and be of average size and weight. All you have to do is work hard.”

Former T.R. Miller Tiger football and baseball standout Jacob Salter is now learning life in sports on the other side of the table.
After spending years playing on the baseball diamond and football field, Salter is learning the ropes of coaching as he is working his way into being a fulltime coach.
Salter, 25, graduated from T.R. Miller is 2005 after moving to Brewton in the second grade. After high school, Salter spent two years at Alabama Southern Community College in Monroeville where he graduated in 2007. After one year at West Alabama in Livingston, Salter spent two years at Auburn University in Montgomery (AUM) where he graduated in 2010.
“I started playing baseball when I was about 3 and baseball is a very important part of my life it is my favorite thing to do,” Salter said.
At Alabama Southern, Salter played baseball during the 2006 and 2007 season playing in a total of 96 games and having a career batting average of .366.
He scored 74 runs and had 123 hits with 22 being doubles and three triples. Salter totaled 51 RBIs and had 36 stolen bases.
At AUM, where he played during the 2009 and 2010 seasons, Salter had a career .261 average playing in 83 games scoring 48 runs and having 63 hits including nine doubles, one triple, and four homeruns. Salter totaled 35 RBIs and had 15 stolen bases.
This current Babe Ruth season, Salter coached the Cardinal team.
“I wanted to make a difference in the youth baseball in Brewton and try to teach how the game is supposed to be played,” Salter said of his reasoning to coach. “I have also coached a 16-18 year old Advanced Babe Ruth team and am coaching it again this year.”
One unique coaching style Salter has come up with is something he learned at Alabama Southern as a player. Salter uses an arm band system of numbers to relay signs instead of the usual hand motions.
“It is ‘idiot’ proof,” Salter said. “It is a grid system. You just grid off the numbers and there is what your supposed to do. It takes away the confusion of normal signs.”
While he says he loves coaching and plans to pursue coaching as a career, there is one thing he does not like.
“Playing is a lot more fun and less stressful for the reason that you can control the game as a player,” Salter said.
Also, Salter said coaching Babe Ruth has been hard this season.
“It is very hard because they want to be your friend instead of you being their coach,” Salter said of the players.
Salter also helped coach the T.R. Miller varsity baseball team this year and plans to coach the team next year along with some football duties this fall at T.R. Miller.

About Adam Robinson

My name is Adam Robinson and I have been the Sports Editor of the Brewton Standard since September 2007. I cover all the local sports in the Brewton area. I am a 2007 graduate of Troy University with a degree in Print Journalism with a contract in Sports Information. I married Shari Lynn in June of 2007 and we welcomed our first child, Hatlee, in April of 2010.

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