Kentucky State’s Mens Baseball off to a Great Start


Thorobreds huddle together as they take a 8-3 win against Alice Lloyd College March 5th, 2021. (Anyiah Chambers Thorobred News)

Anyiah Chambers, General Assignment

Frankfort Ky.-With the impact of COVID-19 taking the world by storm and shutting the world down, it also suspended the 2019-2020 baseball season for Kentucky State. However, this has not stopped the Thorobreds from having an excellent start to the season with a record of 5-3.

At the helm of the team’s success is Head Coach Rob Henry has been coaching at Kentucky State University since 2013. In 2019, he became university’s all-time wins leader as well as leading the Thorobreds to their
first winning season since 1988 with 28 victories.

Coming back to the season midst of a global pandemic can be filled with challenges, knowingly that COVID-19 still has the world filled with questions and leaving everyone with the unknown. Coach Henry keeps an optimistic look on the situation however, “You know, every year presents a little bit different challenge. But for us, we want to continue to build on a new winning tradition; we want to continue to build the program’s culture and continue to make it one where our student-athletes have a great experience.”

Coach Henry inherited a program that was not a very strong one nine years ago; it wasn’t very well known, didn’t graduate a lot of student-athletes, and just generally wasn’t the credited institution it wanted to be. “Each year, we’ve done an excellent job of making this a winning program now, and one of the graduates, student-athletes, and has succeeded in a lot of different ways,” says Coach Henry.

“The biggest strength within the team is that we’ve got a lot of returning ballplayers who have played in this program multiple years. So they understand how to play baseball at this level, understand the speed of the game, understand the expectations, and understand the competition level they’re up against. So I think that goes a long way for us in every position on the field is manned by somebody who’s been here, at least one if not two, or three years,” says Coach Henry. A typical day for the players and Coach Henry consists of morning classes and afternoon practices from two until five-thirty. Players also lift weights on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. “We like to stay conditioned and strong during the season. For us, practice time usually is around two o’clock to five 5:30 in the afternoons, then we’ll play on the weekends,” says Coach Henry.

This year’s season is different because of the pandemic.  Kentucky State traditionally plays during the week, like on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, but due to different COVID protocols followed by different schools it has been hard to schedule games during those days. Hence, the team primarily plays only on the weekends.

Generally, they would have a game or two during the week on either a Tuesday or Wednesday. Despite COVID taking over last season, the players’ expectations and standards during the offseason or downtime did not fall below the bar.

“I expect them to always work on their craft. You know, I try to give our players a lot of independence when it comes to their development and understanding what it is that they need to do to get better as a ballplayer, as a person, as a student,” says Coach Henry.

Along with the on the field success, Coach Henry stresses being academic scholars off the field. “Grades are paramount here; you can’t play without grades, you can’t graduate without going to class and making good grades. So we really stress the academic and the athletic side of things, and also to be well-rounded,” says Coach Henry. Once the athletes finish up their eligibility with Henry, they typically only have a semester or two to finish their degrees.

Coach Henry also goes on to add, “ You know, we’d like our players to be involved in the community with their families and just something outside of themselves as well. So I think all of those things go into being a well-rounded student-athlete and giving you a great experience.” The baseball program offers six primary core values.

The first value is mental toughness, which can move on to the next most crucial thing. “Our guys are going to have bad calls, and they’re going to have bad weather, they’re going to have days where things just aren’t going right. And we asked them to have the ability, instead of dwelling on those things to move on to the next… they’re going to have to deal with a boss, they have to deal with a co-worker, they’re going to have to deal with something that doesn’t go right in life. We want to equip them with the ability to handle that,” said Coach Henry.

Next is selflessness; the program is about leadership and putting other people first while leading other people and teaching other people how to be leaders. “In our program, we say leadership is not a status but instead a skill. You don’t get to be a leader just because you were a senior, and our freshmen can be leaders. And we want all of our young men to become leaders in life,” said Coach Henry.

Coach Henry also touches on the idea of merit within the game “Baseball is a great way to deal with that because nothing’s just going to be handed to you; you’re going to have adversity all the time. Hitting a baseball is a challenging skill, and followed up closely by preventing somebody from hitting a baseball when you’re a pitcher, is a tough skill.”

The program also emphasizes having faith in the process; sometimes you can do everything right, hit a baseball hard, and hit it right at somebody, you don’t get a base hit. You just have to have faith that if you continue to keep putting good swings on the baseball, good things will happen, said Coach Henry.

Lastly, he touches on teamwork, being a good teammate on the field in performance while tying in responsibility, accountability, trust, and goal setting. Coach Henry is very adamant about encouraging his players to be good representatives, not only themselves and the coaching staff, but also of the university. His hope is for people to see the Kentucky State baseball program as an organization that benefits the people around it while not giving more than they take.

“It’s real easy in this life to get wrapped up in ourselves and our personal goals and visions and dreams. And we try to encourage our guys to look beyond that. And baseball is a great vehicle for doing that. You can’t win this game by yourself. And you have to be a good teammate. And we don’t want just to be a good teammate, a teammate on the field, but we want to be good on campus, in the classroom, and the community,” says Coach Henry.

Kentucky State hosts their next game against Tuskegee Saturday, March 20th.