Induction no small feat for Doug Little
When it comes to junior college baseball, Doug Little is big time.
After 19 years as head coach at Potomac State College in West Virginia, Little has seen great success and always targets Grand Junction as the ultimate goal.
He initially led the Catamounts to a pair of appearances in the NJCAA Division II World Series.
After jumping to the NJCAA Division I level in 2000, Little soon discovered the special appeal of the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series in Grand Junction.
Not just the quality of competition, but the community and playing in front of massive crowds at Suplizio Field, all makes for an amazing experience, he said.
“The difference between DI and DII is the level of competition and the World Series event itself,” he said. “We went to the DII World Series twice early in my career. At that time it was in Millington, Tennessee. Great people who ran the tournament, but very small crowds. The DI World Series in Grand Junction is unbelievable. Great people running it, and huge crowds.”
He even has Grand Junction on his retirement bucket list.
“When I retire I want move out there and help with (JUCO),” he said. “I love Grand Junction, it’s honestly what motivates me the most.”
Little has been at the helm of the Potomac State program two separate times during his 19 years. His career record is 615-257 and he’s led the Catamounts to six World Series appearances — four at JUCO and two at the Division II level.
After establishing the Catamounts as a quality Division II program, Little stepped away in 1995 to take an assistant coaching position with West Virginia University.
During his five years there, the Mountaineers posted three 30-win seasons.
The family of baseball has always appealed to Little: “I think people is what makes baseball the greatest sport in our galaxy.” But it was his family that brought him back home to Potomac State.
“I spent five years as the recruiting coordinator at West Virginia University,” he said. “I really enjoyed that level, but being the recruiting coordinator, I was on the road all the time.
“During my fourth year there, we had our first child and I was never home. So, my wife and I decided to come back because it would be a slower-paced life and I would be able to spend more time with my family.”
The slower pace at home didn’t slow down Little and the Catamounts when he returned. The program immediately became a Division I title contender with four straight 30-win seasons. Then, in 2004, the Catamounts made their first trip to Grand Junction and the JUCO World Series.
Memories of Grand Junction and thoughts of returning are always top of mind for Little.
“The first time we qualified for the World Series (in Grand Junction), I will never forget that and that feeling,” he said. “We’ve been fortunate to have played here four times (2004, 2005, 2006 and 2011). I have loved every second of it. Words can’t describe the feeling of playing in the series.”
But it’s the players that remain his main motivation.
“I enjoy coaching at this level because the players are self-motivated. They know they have to perform on the field and in the classroom if they want to move onto bigger and better things,” he said.
Little, who describes his coaching style as a hybrid between “command style and cooperative style,” said the most difficult thing about coaching at the junior college level is preparing players to succeed quickly.
“I think the hardest thing is the turnover of players. They are just starting to figure things out and they move on,” he said.
Assistant coach Don Schafer said it’s a pleasure to coach with Little.
“Potomac State baseball is only successful because of Doug Little,” Schafer said. “His work ethic is unmatched. It is impossible to calculate the number of hours he dedicates to Potomac State baseball. No one out works him. He hates to lose. He prepares this program to be successful long before games are played.
“He cares about the details. He knows that is often the difference in this game where success is so difficult to achieve.”
Little said he was surprised when he got the word that he was a member of the 2016 NJCAA Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
“I was honestly caught off-guard,” he said. “I was attending the (American Baseball Coaches Association) convention in Nashville and found out at the juco coaches meeting. I was very excited because it’s such a tremendous honor.”
He said it wouldn’t have been possible without his family and the players who have gone through the Catamounts’ program. He also singled out Schafer, who has been his assistant for the past 17 years.
Little makes sure his players understand the goal of getting to JUCO.
“I tell them and remind them daily about the level of commitment it takes to get there and I promise them that it will be well worth it and something they will remember for a lifetime,” he said. “I think of Grand Junction every single day, honestly, that’s the effect that the place has had on me.”