You can find the podcast version of this interview on:
Donegal Fergus is the Minor League Hitting Coordinator for the Minnesota Twins. Prior to joining the Twins, he was a college baseball coach for about 20 years. Here are the highlights from our conversation:
How did Donegal start coaching?
- Played at Linfield College and dealt with lingering injuries
- Spent a lot of time watching and wanting to contribute off the field
- Coaches put him to work helping out with younger players
- Graduated and then was invited to coach at Lower Columbia College where his uncle was a legendary coach
- Realized that he wanted to pursue a career in coaching and hasn’t looked back since
How did Donegal decide when to change coaching jobs?
- There’s no perfect formula
- His approach has changed from trying to “move up” to finding a good spot that he could stay at for a while
- It’s really difficult to plan and you have to take things as you come
- The best advice is to be really good where you’re at
- Realize that it’s not always a meritocracy, as much as we want it to be
How would he recommend people learn the “hard to learn” lessons?
- Just pay attention and observe things
- Who you work with really, really matters
- If you’re unhappy with the people that you work with, you won’t be a great version of yourself
- Think about the kinds of people that you need around you to complement your strengths and weaknesses
- Slow down and think about how the “marriage” of a job is going to work – consider how it will benefit both sides
- Consider what new challenges each job/position will provide you
What’s his vision for the future of his career?
- Not sure what his dream job is, but is focused on being good in his current position
- There are lots of different paths from his current position, which is something to factor in
- Trying not to think about the end game and instead focus on being really good at his current job
What did he learn about surrounding himself with the right people from his experience recruiting college baseball players?
- Look at your strengths and weaknesses and pick people that fit into that window
- You can’t just copy someone that is successful, you have to consider who you are, what you need, and what will fit with your personality
- Need to ask if there is something about the relationship “that works”
- It’s about the people you do get, not the people you don’t get
- Don’t try to make a square peg fit into a round hole – be aware of what’s really going to work
How should baseball players think about career growth?
- Find the place where you’re going to be challenged and grow
- It’s a hard decision to make – try not to get caught up in the flashy stuff and make a clear decision based on what will give you the best opportunity to get better and continue to grow
- Don’t get distracted by the shiny objects
What does he tell people who have run into obstacles?
- Look at obstacles as a necessity
- Not hitting obstacles is a bad sign because you’re not challenging yourself enough
- The idea that process matters over results is real
- Need to realize that you need obstacles to improve
- You’re always going to get hit in the face with challenges and failure, so learning how to approach it with a learning mindset is crucial
Where can readers follow Donegal online?