ROCKPORT — Jeff Hart is one of a dwindling number of coaches statewide who lead teams into battle in multiple sports through his double-duty role with the schoolboy basketball and baseball squads at Camden Hills Regional High School.
And while the determination to win in each sport is the same, the pace of the game varies from the up-and-down tempo of basketball — particularly with the aggressive style of play employed by Camden Hills — and the more stationary tempo of most baseball games.
“Basketball seems like a much more emotional-type of game because of the pace,” said Hart. “In baseball the thing I’ve learned to focus on is eliminating mental mistakes. You have time to do that because there’s so much preparation before each pitch or before a play.
“In basketball, you’ve got to put those things behind you almost immediately because as soon as you make a mistake you’re going the other way.”
And while basketball has its star players who typically have the most impact on the outcome of a game, Hart sees baseball as sometimes even more reliant on specific players.
“Basketball is a little more predictable because you put the same players out there from game to game,” said Hart, who has more than 400 wins as Camden Hills’ basketball coach, including a 22-0 record and the Class B state championship this season.
“Baseball revolves around pitching. You can put someone out there one day and feel like you can beat anybody, but then the next time if the pitcher isn’t having his best day you can get beat by anyone.”
Hart said he is blessed to have quality assistant coaches in both sports, including Paul McDonald and Tom Stammen for basketball and Skip Pound and Jon Moro for baseball, that make his coaching run in the two sports from November to June each school year less arduous.
But their contributions also can be different, especially during practices.
“With baseball practices you’re not scrimmaging like you do in basketball, it’s really more breaking down what you do,” Hart said, “and Skip is so good with the little things when it comes to hitting and Jon is the same way with pitching mechanics.”
“Baseball is such a short season that you have to be able to work with kids individually to make those adjustments in the batting cage or with the pitchers.”