Rebels welcome new manager: Rhodes works with Hedrick, who led New Market to their 2002 championship
By Tommy Keeler Jr.
It was only natural that C.J. Rhodes would become the next manager of the New Market Rebels.
Rhodes is an assistant coach at Randolph-Macon College under head coach Ray Hedrick, a former New Market Rebels manager. Hedrick managed the Rebels to their last Valley Baseball League championship in 2002. Hedrick coached the Rebels from 2001-2003, led them to 77 wins and coached current Major League players Chris Ray and Brett Gardner. The Rebels have also used several of Hedrick's assistants as managers over the years.
"I felt like it was already pre-determined that I got it, because of Ray Hedrick's tie to the Rebels," said Rhodes, in his first season at R-MC. "I knew the relationship was very strong with New Market. When the opportunity opened up at New Market, I knew it was something I had to say yes to."
Rhodes said he was a finalist for the job, and then was later hired and he signed with the Rebels officially on Dec. 8.
Rhodes has plenty of experience with summer leagues, having played in three different summer leagues as a player at Virginia Wesleyan.
He was also a hitting coach for the Wisconsin Woodchucks in the Northwoods League. Rhodes said each team plays 70 games in 75 days, including taking road trips as long as 10 hours for games.
"It's considered one of the toughest leagues to play in," Rhodes said.
Rhodes also has had plenty of coaches to learn from over the years. His coach in college, Nick Boothe, entered this season with 586 victories in 26 years at Virginia Wesleyan.
After college, Rhodes was a volunteer assistant for two years at Virginia Commonwealth University, before coming to Randolph-Macon this season.
At VCU, Rhodes was an assistant under Paul Keyes, who died in November of cancer. Keyes was the all-time winningest coach in VCU history with 603 victories in 18 years.
"[Boothe and Keyes] have over 1,000 wins between them and I learned a lot from both of them," Rhodes said. "I try to mesh together what I learned from each of them into my coaching style."
Rhodes said he feels it's important to stay calm on the field, while also having a real passion and love for the game. He said it's important to set a good example for the players he coaches.
Rhodes said the Rebels' roster is not full yet, but they have signed players from many different schools, including VCU, George Mason, Bucknell, Rowan, VMI, ODU and Georgia Southern.
Rhodes said the importance of playing in the summer is to simply get better.
"I just want to help these players get better by the time they go back to college to their respective programs," Rhodes said. "I just want to help them mature and grow, just like I grew when I played in summer leagues when I was in college."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org