The first two years of Mitch Canham's run as head coach for Oregon State Baseball has been unique, to say the least.
The former Beavers catcher was named head coach of the program on June 13th, 2019 but the start to his tenure was filled with bumps in the road.
As 2019 turned to 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic was taking over. Places around the world began to shut down and with his Beavers sitting a 5-9, the plug was pulled on the baseball season. His first year on the job was over before it began.
This past season was a different story. The Beaves went 37-24 before losing in the NCAA Regionals. I was a solid "first-year" for Canham, who recently joined the Talkin' Beavs podcast to talk about what he learned on the job.
"Continuing to balance time with the guys getting touches," said Canham. "You can look at guys that get banged up, guys that are injured, how much time they're missing out on practice, how much time they're missing out in the competition piece."
While COVID halted the first season, its impacts were still felt as the Beavers played in 2021. The NCAA implemented numerous rules about social distancing, who players and coaches could talk to, and other health and safety protocols to keep teams ready to play. The protocols in places were one of Canham's biggest challenges.
"Dealing with COVID, and rules, and regulations we were going to be following with this... What we learned as coaches, especially having to distance ourselves from our players, families, and everything else, it makes you value those relationships so much more. That time you get, you want to make sure you are as specific as possible trying to change their lives."
With limited time to interact with the squad, Canham had to plan ahead to make sure the time he did have was used to the best of his ability.
"If you say something you don't want it to just go inside one ear and out the other," Canham said. "You want it to stick. Before we deliver messages we want to make sure that we've processed that type of message - what, why, when and how, - so when we deliver it to them we're feeling confident init and we know it's going to stick."
COVID presented some unique challenges for the young coach, but he is passing them with flying colors.