Q&A with Geoff Hirai
Assistant softball coach Geoff Hirai and the Cavaliers will begin fall ball in a few weeks, as UVa classes begin Aug. 25. Hirai recently sat down with VirginiaSports.com to chat about the recruiting trail this summer, what kind of qualities he looks for in a player, the team goals for the ball, and getting ready for a new addition.
Question: How has recruiting been this summer?
Hirai: It has been very successful. All three of us were out at different places all over the country, looking towards setting a new tone for the program. We are looking at some great kids for both the 2010 and 2011 classes. Everything looks bright for the future of this program.
Question: What are some of the qualities you look for in a player?
Hirai: Someone who stands out. Obviously, as an assistant, I look at what the boss tells me we need. But something I was taught when I was scouting for the Reds was whoever stands out is the kid you want. If they have speed, power, a great glove, whatever it may be.
Question: What are the types of things the team will work on this fall?
Hirai: Camaraderie and setting a culture. Coach Schmidt does a great job of setting the tone and supporting that all the way through the season. That is the key in any program – you have to some kind of identity. For this program it is working hard and getting in the weight room. Doing things getting to know each other to get where we want to go – and that is regionals.
Question: How do you think the newcomers will mesh with the returning players?
Hirai: They are going to fit in great. This 2009 class along with the transfers will mesh well. Coach Schmidt does a great job of bringing in the right people to fit into this program. Not everyone can come to UVa academically or personality-wise. We have a good quality of high-energy kids, good leadership and we have some kids who can hit and throw it in the circle. I expect good things this year.
Question: You’ve been in Charlottesville exactly one year. How was the transition from the west coast?
Hirai: It is different, but it is more of just getting to know the program. It doesn’t matter which coast you are on. I don’t think the style of play is any different. It’s more of getting to know the other two coaches on staff. I think I became a better coach just sitting back and getting a feel for where I needed to help out more.
Question: What stands out from last season?
Hirai: How hard the kids worked and how impressed I was of the culture that was set by Coach Schmidt. These kids play for her and that means a lot.
Question: What else have you been up to?
Hirai: Taking care of my wife. She is almost nine months pregnant and the baby is due in September. We are getting ready for that. Traveling a little bit and seeing the east coast, which I have never seen before. Pittsburgh, North Carolina, Virginia Beach, those little things. We try to travel as much as we can. Recruiting, camps, and getting the baby room together all summer!