Alex Creel...All In
As We Are Warpaint seeks to highlight Warriors impacting their community around them, it's become evident that two common denominators seem to always be present... Passion and Dedication.
Alex Creel has been a part of baseball for over 20 years. First as a student of the game and now as an instructor of the game. His work ethic and drive molded him into an elite pitcher with aspirations of playing professionally. His training and dedication allowed him the opportunity to receive two athletic scholarships from Arizona State University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Both Division I athletic schools where talent is not only essential, it's required.
Alex finished his baseball career in 2005 with the Mustangs, but it didn't take long before he realized he had something to give back to the game of baseball and started coaching and training pitchers in 2006. Since then, Alex and his partners, Bret Hemphill and Mikela Olsen formed Golden Spikes Baseball.
We Are Warpaint, would like to congratulate Golden Spikes Baseball on their new training facility. We are also proud to highlight Alex Creel and Golden Spikes Baseball for this month's Warrior Spotlight.
WARRIOR SPOTLIGHT: Alex Creel...All In
WP: How has baseball impacted your life?
AC: Baseball has impacted my life in multiple ways, but the one that stands out to me the most is the impact it's had on my work ethic. I really took my craft seriously, and played every day. Whether it was fielding ground balls, throwing, or going to the cages to hit - I was going to do something. Sometimes I didn't like it, but the rewards that I received from the work I put into whatever I was doing made up for it. If you really want something in life, you must work hard and dedicate yourself to it. You're all in, and win or lose, you still must go and work at it the next day. I am a pitching coach, and even now I spend hours studying how I can get my guys to get better faster. What new tools, what new information can I gather in order for me to get on top of my game. If I don't do that, someone else is going to get the clientele, and I really want to be the person that helps assist them to the next level.
Alex Creel, Alaska Goldpanners, 2001
WP: You were a highly sought after pitcher that received scholarship offers from Arizona State University and Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. What ball clubs did you play for growing up and what type of training regimen and dedication does it take to achieve interest from Division I athletics?
AC: After my freshmen year in high school I began playing for Nor Cal, a team that had national recognition. Their mission was to get players to move onto the collegiate/professional level. The team was loaded with talent and initially it was tough for me to even crack the lineup. I hung in there, and finally got the opportunity to play consistently and absolutely just ran with it. During those years, I was the best baseball player I have ever been. I had to be, or else someone else would get the scholarship, someone else would get the playing time, and I wanted it.
My training regimen was really established at a young age because of my dad. I kind of knew that I wasn't just playing baseball because it was fun. I was trying to become a pro. We took weekly hitting lessons, went to every camp possible at Sac City, and played on multiple teams in my early years. Some people might think that is too much at a young age, but I liked being good and that was the goal when I went to work on my game. I figured out that the more I worked, the more I preformed at a high level on the field, so I continued to push it. That is the type of work ethic that it takes to become a D1 athlete. Quality preparation leads to quality performance.
WP: What is the one thing most people don't know about you?
AC: One thing most people don't know about me is I am extremely scared of heights. I can't stand being off the ground higher than I should be. Being on ladders, getting to the top of the peak on a hike, and getting on roller coasters is not for me.
Alex Creel, partner at Golden Spikes and Pitching Instructor
WP: What people have impacted your baseball career (both as a player and as a professional) and why?
AC: My dad, Marvin Creel, taught me how to go after something if you really want it. He gave me every opportunity to become better and it worked. He trained me since I was 8 or so on how to be a better baseball player. Some days I didn't like it, but looking back I see that there was no other way. Eric Vorbeck is the guy who really taught me how to play the game at a higher level in the field and at the plate. The intensity and passion he had for the game was something that I had never seen before. It was infectious and it clicked for me. He really taught me how to compete and fight for success. Guy Dubets was my pitching instructor, and he took me to a whole new level when I started to train with him. He instilled more confidence in me then anyone I had ever been around, and that really made me believe in myself. Fred Corral, was my pitching coach at Sac City. The guy made me understand pitching in a different way than I had ever viewed it and it allowed me to stay in the game for a few more years. He instilled a warrior mentality in me, that really made me feel like I couldn't be beat.
Jerry Weinstein was my coach at Cal Poly, and I have never seen or heard mechanics done or trained the way he was doing it. Now, I couldn't pull them off exactly, but looking back he is the one who got me to teach pitching the way I teach pitching now. He opened my eyes to a whole new world of pitching delivery. Ron Wolforth of the Texas Baseball Ranch has helped me train multiple pitchers better than I could ever imagine. His information is practical and applicable the moment you get it. I owe all these people a lot for helping me become a better ball player and coach.
Jerry Weinstein, former Cal Poly coach Ron Wolforth, Texas Baseball Ranch
Currently staffed with the Colorado Rockies
WP: What is your instructing style and/or philosophy?
AC: My coaching philosophy is: The feel is the deal.
Everything I try to do is give the player a heightened sense of what we are trying to accomplish in our delivery. If I can take a segment of the motion that is important, get you to feel what it's like to do it efficiently in a drill and add it back into your delivery, I have accelerated the players learning curve. I can get players better faster like that versus telling them how to do it. I ask far more than I tell, and I prefer for natural learning to to take place.
Ron Wolforth relayed something known as the Bernstein Principle, where the body will organize itself based on the ultimate goal of the activity. To me, if the player has a strong enough goal, we can figure out the how. If his goal is to throw 90 MPH one day, it is my job to give him chances to feel how high level pitchers do it while staying healthy, and it is his job to come up with his style of incorporating what I teach him into his own delivery, as well as devote time to his training.
Alex Creel (left), Guy Dubets (center) and Manny Para (right), pitcher for the Brewers & Cincinnati Reds
WP: What is your favorite quote?
AC: My favorite quote comes from Henry Ford who stated, "Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, but this time more intelligently."
OK, in the world of sports, everyone needs to understand this. If you can't handle a little bit of failure, you will never learn to succeed. How are you suppose to learn? Is every pitch going to be a strike? Is every ball hit going to square up perfectly and go over the fence? NO!
Now, everyone understands that, but not everyone trains or lives their life like that. For aspiring athletes, failure can drive you to be the best you can be. If something is going on in your swing or throw, and it is not producing the results you want, think about it and make an adjustment to get the result you desire. You just have to view it like Henry Ford did.
WP: How have injuries impacted your career?
AC: Unfortunately, injuries have plagued my career. I've had L5 disc surgery and a torn ACL. Nothing was ever structurally wrong with my shoulder, but that was the one thing that hurt me the most. My senior year in high school, I was being highly sought after by MLB teams. My fastball had never been better the summer and fall before my senior year. I started having pain in my shoulder, and I thought I could get through it. It wasn't so bad that I couldn't throw, but I just could not produce the same force on the ball as I had been able to do. The MLB scouts started to dwindle at my games and that really hurt my ego. I started to not believe in myself as much and found myself only trying to go for velocity instead of winning the game. My command suffered big time, and I was not nearly the pitcher I had been in months past. Instead of addressing the problem and trying more intelligently again, I just threw harder. Mentally it's tough to see your game change and I never really coped with it. I wanted the velocity back and that was it. What I should have been thinking was, let's try and come up with a way to stop the pain, and let's be great with what we got. I was trying to get back to how I was, when really, I should have moved on to a more efficient way of throwing. I was just immature and didn't understand that.
Oh, if I knew what I know now.
WP: You and your partners at Golden Spikes recently expanded your baseball instruction business by acquiring a facility of your own. Tell us more about this new venture and what your future goals are for the facility and your clientele.
AC: February 1st, Golden Spikes will be moving into the new facility. There has been a lot of help from Bret Hemphill and Mikela Olsen, my partners at Golden Spikes, to get this thing up and running. It is stressful right now, but my wheels are turning on how I can use the space for pitching. I'm trying to shift to more of a group lesson/class atmosphere. I still want to bring the personal touch to the classes by using video in order to find my players significant opportunities, and allow them to work on it when it is their turn to throw. I just think that we talk far too much in one on one instruction, and my main job is to get the pitcher to feel what they need to do, and not be able to talk about it. The sense of competition takes place in a group setting, and I want my guys to have fun with it and not shy away from it. We will have a lot more drills that isolate chunks of the delivery, and allow the student to have natural learning take place.
Also, our strength training, is going to take our pitchers to another level. Having good technique can only take you so far, and same with being strong. I have been hard at work on their mechanical efficiencies, and now it's time to start up their functional training. In a class atmosphere it's fun, competitive, and allows for the proper amount of rest to stay in the right energy system for baseball. I can't wait to get in there and start training.
Bret Hemphill, partner at Golden Spikes Mikela Olsen, partner at Golden Spikes
Former switch hitting catcher for the Anaheim Angels 15th round draft pick for the Florida Marlins, 2003
WP: What do you miss most about playing baseball?
AC: I think hitting when the game is tight. I know, I was a pitcher, but for most of my career I was a hitter until my arm surpassed what people thought I could do at the plate. I loved stepping into the box and going through my routine. When guys threw harder, I just thought to myself power vs. power like I used to use when I was a kid. I would absolutely let it rip at anything close to the zone. I loved offense! Running the bases was one of my favorite things to do as well. I used to love sliding head first while stealing second, or tagging home with my hand while trying to avoid the tag. I wish I was still able to do that.
WP: What song or artist are you currently listening to?
AC: Oh my gosh, I mean, I listen to a lot of hip hop and R&B music. If I had to say there was one artist that I listen to more than anyone, I would have to say Drake. I don't know, I thought "Started from the Bottom" was a pretty hot song and his new album wears on you. When coaching at Sierra last year, that song came out during the season, and all players and coaches had to hear it for "In and Out" music.
I like Kendrick Lamar too. I listen to a whole bunch of music, but when I'm getting ready for work, that is what I'm going with - it gets my pumped.
WP: If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring collegiate baseball player, what would it be?
AC: One piece of advice for an aspiring college athlete would be to push all your chips in and go for it. Sure you are going to have to deal with failure, sure there are other things going on that could be more fun, but you have to ask yourself what am I really trying to do with my life? If it's to play collegiate/professional sport, don't be afraid of being different and saying no to what your friends are doing. Dedicate yourself to your craft and make it happen. Think positive everyday, and say I WILL be a college/professional athlete. Now you said it, do something about it.
WP: If you could design the next Warpaint color what would it be?
AC: Vegas Gold.
Golden Spikes is that color and our guys might have some interesting patters if they got their hands on black and Vegas Gold.