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April 16, 2020

Vassar Baseball Coach, Matthew Righter, Talks Showcases and Character

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Matthew Righter is in his fourth year as the head coach for Vassar Baseball, where he has posted the program’s best winning percentage and taken the team to the Liberty League tournament in two of the three possible years. Righter was a two-sport star at Johns Hopkins in baseball and basketball before getting drafted by the Detroit Tigers. He played as high as triple-A in his six years with the organization before returning to Hopkins as the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator for six years, leading them to an eventual college world series. Before Vassar, he was the head coach of SUNY New Paltz for three years.

LRT Sports: What are the three main attributes that you look for in a recruit?

Coach Righter: ​Athleticism, instincts and character – especially how they interact with their family.

LRT Sports:​ What is the best way for a recruit to get on your radar?

Video along with a tasteful introductory email are both really helpful. We know we will/should see your very best on video vs when we go to a showcase. Weather, tough matchups, not feeling great can all get in the way of seeing what you’re fully capable of.

LRT Sports:​ How many showcases should a high school athlete be attending, and is it better to go to big showcases or specific schools’ camps, and if so, what showcases or camps would you recommend?

​If the family has the means, I would recommend attending one big showcase like Head First or Play to Win plus one to three camps at specific schools. Of course, these all can be very expensive, but if possible the exposure is really helpful. That said, families who may not be able to afford camps and showcases can still get recruited. Old fashioned videos from cellphone cameras while training over time can give us a good idea of what you’re capable of. If we see enough and build a good relationship, we can find a way to come see you!

LRT Sports:​ High school athletes have expressed that they do not know what GPA/ACT/SAT scores coaches want. What scores do you look for?

​We look for core unweighted GPA which means we strip down any weight and remove classes like music, business, phys ed etc…. It’s probably best for the family to share the unofficial transcript with the coach along with the school profile so the coach or admissions can do the calculation themselves.

LRT Sports:​ How and when should a high school athlete reach out to you?

​All divisions are different but we start to build relationships with players in the fall of their junior year. Our goal is to follow their junior spring season and then try and see them again that next summer. I personally like hearing updates on big games/milestones/how they overcame something challenging throughout the year. It is not impossible to build a relationship in the spring of the player’s junior year or that summer after but there will definitely be a greater sense of urgency the later it goes.

LRT Sports:​ What role should parents play in their child’s recruiting process?

​I think it’s important to get to know the parents or close supporting group just as much as the player throughout the recruiting process. I put great stock in how the prospective student athlete gets along with those who are closest to them. I always appreciate a family that gets along well, supports each other and who wants to push each other through a challenging process.

LRT Sports:​ Do you look at recruit’s social media, and if so, what do you look for?

​Usually, just because they direct me there to see a highlight or skills video. I may also see their social media feed if they “request me as a friend.” I don’t look for anything in particular but would prefer not to see anything racist, sexist, homophobic or that would generally indicate this person would not uphold the standards of our program.

LRT Sports:​ Do you allow walk-ons, and if so, what advice can you give the high school athletes as far as starting the process?

Non-recruited student athletes can try-out for our team in the fall. They should reach out to me as soon as they know they’re attending Vassar and that they want to try and play. “Walk-ons” would get a guarantee of two days of practice during our “nontraditional season” where they would need to show they are proficient enough to compete in scrimmages. If they pass that test, they would get the opportunity to scrimmage with everyone else and show that they deserve a spot on the spring roster.

LRT Sports:​ As a coach, do you look for a talented player or a player that is talented with good character?

​Ideally, we always take players who are talented with good character. A player with bad character can really break down your team culture. One bad apple can turn the entire bunch if you’re not careful.

LRT Sports:​ What advice can you give to that athlete who can’t seem to get off the bench? 

Players who don’t play much in high school can still play in college. I would recommend working with an independent organization who can help promote them and get them in front of coaches who they think would be receptive to understanding their situation. I would be honest with the college coach though on playing time and possibly why, if it makes sense.

LRT Sports:​ Do you have academic help for those athletes who are struggling with their grades and playing their sport?

​Vassar has a variety of resources to help students with their school work. Drop in tutoring programs through the Q center (math, economics, physics and chemistry) and our writing center are two examples of really good ways our students can get help.

LRT Sports:​ What key factors make a good leader/captain?

​Not all leaders are captains and sometimes captains turn out to not always be the best leaders. The best teams have people who set and then follow the standard. They are the ones who demand the most from themselves but who also push others to do the same. Captains do not always have to agree with the head coach either but they can communicate effectively with him/her. Other key factors would be work ethic, care for others and a commitment to building an environment where people care deeply about what they do.

LRT Sports:​ When recruits go on an official visit to your schools, what are some dos and don’ts?

​Go to a class. Go to the cafeteria and eat with the team. See a sporting event. Spend an hour or two studying at the library. Watch a practice or see the team play. Do not party, drink or break school rules.

LRT Sports:​ What is the craziest thing that you saw a parent do at a game?

​Pull out their personal radar gun and go sit with the coaches while they are scouting/evaluating.

LRT Sports:​ What is the funniest way an athlete has marketed themselves to you?

​Honestly, I think it’s funny that some players/coaches are still sending snail mail with schedules on it. Email is where it’s at kids!

If you are interested in playing baseball for Vassar, visit: