Genius Of McQuaid Was Innovation, Work 0

By LOU PAVLOVICH, JR.
Editor/Collegiate Baseball

DAVIE, Fla. — Pat McQuaid, one of the greatest high school baseball coaches in history, has retired as the skipper at Nova High School (Davie, Fla.)

He spent 45 years as the head coach of the Titans and was the coach of Nova since 1976.

His teams won 947 games, 18 district titles, two state championships and a national title.

Few high school baseball programs in the USA have experienced more success than Nova High School.

His greatest period of success was when the Titans went 50-1 over the 2005 and 2006 seasons and No. 1 national ranking in the final Collegiate Baseball National High School poll in 2006 with a 19-0 record.

Year after year, he and his staff churned out remarkable teams that played the game the right way.

The veteran skipper was asked to share his time honored secrets of coaching with Collegiate Baseball.

“The most important thing we do is have every kid in our program practice together,” said McQuaid.

“We don’t have a freshman team. But we do have a JV team as well as a varsity squad. We have 22-23 kids on each team, and overall we have 45 kids between both teams. But we treat both teams as one in our program.

“Our JV kids practice with the varsity every day. I found out a long time ago that this was by far the best system to evaluate kids and watch them grow. When the varsity guys are taking ground balls, right next to them might be a freshman kid who is 13 or 14 years old. The varsity kid may be a high profile player who can pass along some valuable information to the young man.

“I’m not saying the young player won’t listen to the coaches. But it has a different meaning coming from one of his peers who has gone through high school baseball and knows what to expect. We have found that our young kids really pay attention to what the varsity players tell them.

“Plus, our older guys have found certain techniques which have worked for them, and they take the young guys under their wings and help them. It is a great experience for them as well.”

When McQuaid says that his JV players are treated as equals with the varsity squad, he isn’t blowing smoke.

When the varsity squad wins a state championship, every player in the program receives a ring, which includes the JV players.

When the varsity travels to a tournament in another state, the JV players come with them as games are arranged for them as well.

And get this.

The goal of the coaching staff at Nova is to make sure each and every JV player participates in at least one varsity game during the season.

“That can be a tough one, but that is our goal,” said McQuaid.

“Usually our JV team plays 18 games, which includes doubleheaders. Since we really don’t have JV coaches, our varsity staff coaches them. I am always at the game watching as I walk around here and there.”

McQuaid said his team may practice 60 minutes on defense, which includes his JV players. Prior to varsity games, his team takes 20 minutes to complete pre-game defensive situations — almost double the time of most high school teams.

“The reason we take so much time is because we have our JV guys taking infield as well. In the long run, this all pays off because kids get a lot of experience. We try to get the kids ready to play. If we find that a kid as a freshman has the aptitude to play at the varsity level, we don’t hesitate using him. All of our JV guys are welcome in the varsity locker room.

“In essence, we want our youngest players to be embraced by the older players to uphold the tradition of our program. When the young kids become older, they turn around and help the younger ones. It turns out to be a great family atmosphere.

“When we have qualified for the final four, we get a lot of our baseball alumni coming to games. After home games, one of the greatest thrills I have is seeing little kids running on the infield of our diamond and playing. I enjoy having a family atmosphere like this with our program.”

Amazing defense has been one of the hallmarks with the Nova Titans for years.

“People may find this hard to believe, but we only had three throwing errors over 32 games during a recent season,” said McQuaid.

“This isn’t unusual. We devote 60 minutes during each practice to defense. We work and work on the fundamentals of fielding and throwing with repetition. The two key areas we work on daily in practice is the double infield drill with two fungo hitters going at the same time.

“The next area we work on each practice is the five different scenarios catchers must master with their throws which gives extra throwing practice for all of our infielders to the different locations where they must throw balls during games.”

McQuaid gave a rundown on each of the five sequences:

To read more of this article, purchase the May 1, 2020 edition of Collegiate Baseball or subscribe by CLICKING HERE. McQuaid explains his five defensive sequences along with much more in this in-depth story about his system.