By JASON ELMQUIST
STILLWATER — Sitting in the back of the media room in Gallagher-Iba Arena, a pair of Oklahoma State baseball players listened to what their new coach had to say to the media and OSU boosters.
Overall, they came away impressed.
“Being a senior, it’s kind of a tough situation to come into with a new coach and everything. But just to hear him talk, it comforts me,” Trey Whaley said after Josh Holliday was introduced Friday as the next Cowboy baseball coach. “He’s a great speaker and it sounds like he’ll be a hands-on coach. So I’m excited about it.”
Whaley’s teammate Saulyer Saxon added, “I liked what he had to say. I’m pretty excited about it. ... I like the values that he holds and I like where he thinks this program is headed.”
The two players admitted most of the players on the roster were a little uncertain following the firing of Frank Anderson early last week.
“We were all kind of panicking there at first, but just to finally know who our coach is going to be is fun and exciting,” Whaley said.
Whaley said the players were blindsided by the Anderson firing, having been told prior to leaving to play summer ball that Anderson was “safe” in his position leading the Cowboy program.
“It was really surprising. We weren’t expecting it,” Whaley said. “We had been told that he was safe and everything, so everybody just went away for the summer. So it was real surprising, to tell the truth.”
But now the players appear to be ready to prepare for the future.
One of the biggest things the players drew from the Holliday hiring was the youthfulness of the 35-year-old former OSU player who will be making his head coaching debut with Oklahoma State.
“Younger guys seem to affect their players a lot different than older guys,” Whaley. “I think with being a younger guy, he knows what we’re going through, he knows situations we’re put in. Honestly, I like younger guys because you can carry on conversations better with younger guys.”
Whaley also said the fact that Holliday has roots in OSU and Stillwater should be a positive for the program.
“Since he played here, it’s definitely comforting as a player. You’re able to see his passion and in all of this that we’ve been going through over the last couple of weeks, it kind of relaxes us a little bit,” Whaley said. “To know it’s a guy that knows Stillwater and knows everybody around here, it’s real comforting.”
As a senior, Whaley said he is prepared to take the leadership role that will be needed in the time of transition between coaches.
“A lot of the young guys called me and were real nervous about what was going to happen,” Whaley said. “I told them to just settle down and we’ll see what happens. I just think he’s probably going to come to me for help with the younger guys and that’s something I’ll be able to do.”
That may be something Holliday will need to do. According to the players, they hadn’t gotten the opportunity to meet the incoming coach prior to the press conference on Friday.
“I’m just going to embrace whatever he has to say and what his style is. I’m just excited to meet him and find out what he knows about the program and where he wants it to go,” said Saxon, a junior on the squad. “And just find out what I need to do help him and help us get to our goals.”
— Jason Elmquist is the sports editor for The Stillwater NewsPress.