People don’t usually expect to get a call about their dream as they are on their way across the country to start another job, but that is exactly what happened to NSU pitching coach Pete Woodworth.
Originally from St. Petersburg, near the Tampa Bay area, Woodworth grew up a Tampa Bay Rays fan. So when he got a call in 2010 from the Rays organization to come pitch for their minor league team that summer, he jumped at the opportunity.
“Dream come true. I went undrafted after my senior year [of college]. I headed up to Wisconsin to coach summer ball and as soon as I got up there, [Tampa Bay] called me and said ‘Do you want to come pitch for us this summer.’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, hold on, I’ll be right back,’” said Woodworth.
The summer of 2010 in Port Charlotte, Woodworth got to put on the uniform of his favorite team as a member. The life-long Rays fan described it as “absolutely perfect.”
It is not often, that we get to witness a dream become reality, but Woodworth got to realize his that summer. He also had a brief position as an area scout for the organization after his playing career was finished.
Baseball has always been Woodworth’s goal. His role models included some of the Major Leagues’ best pitchers, including recent Hall of Fame inductee Greg Maddox and former two-time Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay. But his father actually had other plans in mind.
“My dad always wanted me to be a golfer,” said Woodworth.
Woodworth attended St. Petersburg Catholic High School. After graduation, he attended the University of South Florida for a year before transferring to Florida Gulf Coast University. At FGCS, Woodworth pitched all four years while earning his bachelor’s in history.
Coaching had crossed Woodworth’s mind even before his playing career was over. He prepared for coaching to be the next logical step when he was done playing.
“Since my sophomore year of college, I had a really good pitching coach that got me into the game. Ever since then, it’s something I’ve wanted to do,” said Woodworth.
Although his position at NSU is his first official coaching job, his past experiences helped him prepare for this moment.
“I coached younger kids from 11 to 14-years-old. I had been doing lessons all throughout college, so I had a little experience but nothing full-time,” said Woodworth.
The first weekend of the season proved to be unforgettable for Woodworth, as the Sharks were able to walk away 3-0 after the first weekend of the season. The second weekend proved to be equally fruitful, as NSU finished the five-game weekend 4-1, bringing their overall record to 7-1.
“[First weekend of the season] was pretty memorable,” said Woodworth. “First coaching experience and getting three wins — it was a pretty good weekend.”
Woodworth brings his own style to the team this year that will hopefully help continue the success the team has experienced thus far.
“I bring positive energy to the field,” said Woodworth, “Laid back, passive. We are real big on the mental side, pitch with their mind instead of their body and to do things the right way.”
Baseball consumes most of Woodworth’s life but it isn’t the only thing he likes to enjoy. Although it may be hard to do all the activities that he enjoys now that his first season as a coach is under way.
“Other than baseball, there isn’t a whole lot going on in my world,” said Woodworth. “I’m a big runner. I like to run and lift [weights], anything outside. But now that the season has started, there’s not a whole lot of free time.”
The youthful energy, positivity and experience on multiple levels of the sport should pay dividends for both Woodworth and the NSU baseball team. If the early success of a 7-1 start is any indication of what can be expected, NSU can look forward to many victory celebrations thanks in part to the excellent coaching staff and players.