Clement Leans On Experience, Relationships In Transition To Ole Miss
July 24, 2014
By Austin Miller, OleMissSports.com
OXFORD, Miss. -- Less than two weeks on the job, Mike Clement is back in Oxford, as he continues in his transition as the new hitting coach at Ole Miss. It's been a whirlwind, but he's excited for the opportunity and the coaching staff has helped make the move a lot easier.
"It's a good fit because I pride myself on the mentality part of coaching," Clement said. "I want a bunch of guys who are going to be blue collar and play with a chip on their shoulder, really play the game and outwork their opponents. I pride myself on that as a coach, and I hope our offense is going to pride themselves on that as well. I bring that dynamic to the staff. We have a bunch of good players and a bunch of good recruits, and I feel really good about where the program is right now."
Clement joins the Ole Miss coaching staff after spending the previous two seasons at Kansas State. There, he worked alongside Ole Miss strength and conditioning coach Ben Fleming, as they helped lead the Wildcats to a Big 12 Championship and Super Regional appearance, coming within one game of the College World Series, during the 2013 season.
"It's important for me in the transition because I can bounce a lot off of him," Clement said. "The one year we worked together, we had a pretty special year at Kansas State and made it to the Super Regional and had the best year in school history. I trust his opinion. He's relentless in the way he works with kids"
"It was exciting to see him come here," Fleming said. "It was the same kind of thing as coming here and knowing (former Ole Miss hitting coach) Cliff Godwin from Central Florida. It always feels good to know someone who you have previously worked with. You know their habits, their style and their attitude. That was exciting."
A former college catcher, Clement also shares a familiarity with two other former catchers on staff, head coach Mike Bianco and pitching coach Carl Lafferty, the latter of which has also helped on the recruiting trail, where Clement has spent much of his short time with Ole Miss.
"He's very gifted on the road," Clement said. "He has an unbelievable ability to know players and know everything about them. He knows who they are, who they play for, and where they're from. When you have someone as gifted as Carl is from a recruiting standpoint, it makes the transition a lot easier, that's for sure."
Outside of recruiting, which Clement called the "life blood" of the program, Clement also looks to build relationships with the returning and incoming players, as the team finishes summer workouts and prepares for fall practice.
"He likes to establish strong, trusting relationships with the players, and they really relate to him," Fleming said. "He's going to throw all his own batting practice. He likes to get involved. If you come out to practices, you're going to see him drenched in sweat because he's that active, similar to Coach Godwin in how he's always moving and trying to be the best."
Coming off a tie for third place in the College World Series, Ole Miss is on the right track, Clement said, but he looks to help take the program to the next level.
"The coaching staff and the returning players are really excited about hopefully taking that next step," Clement said. "We want to be the last team standing in Omaha, not one of the last four teams. That's our goal, and that's the goal for a lot of teams, especially in this league. It's a dogfight, and you can't get to that goal without doing your job in the summer and fall. It's an exciting time, and the confidence is at an all-time high, probably, for his program, and that can be attributed to last year's team."
Austin Miller is a writer and blogger for OleMissSports.com. He joined the staff in June 2013 after serving as sports editor of the Daily Mississippian. Follow him on Twitter @austinkmiller.
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