The Santa Fe High Baseball team finished their regular season 21-2 in Travis Yeckring's first full season as head coach. (photo/Parker Fluke)

Coach Travis Yeckring Discusses Raiders Dominant Start to Season

After a dominant start to the season, Santa Fe Raiders Coach Travis Yeckring reflected on topics ranging from the impacts of players to his coaching style which aims to bring out the best in his team. While humble about his accomplishments, he praised his players’ achievements and hard work.

Pushing Players to Perform

A simple message is pinned at the top of Travis’ Twitter account: “Things I haven’t seen at the CWS.” While he was surprised about the amount of engagement it received, the tweet stands out as a reminder of his coaching style: doing the basics right. In his practices, Yeckring emphasizes the little things.

“You don’t have to be the biggest. You don’t have to be the strongest. You don’t have to be the fastest, but you’re going to have to put the work in. And it’s rewarding when you do it.”

He connected this to his regrets about not being the best teammate when he was in high school. While he was talented as a player, the things he wishes he spent more time on were the fundamentals of baseball such as remaining positive in the face of adversity and having maturity.

Leading by Example

Yeckring was a first-team All-State infielder at Buchholz, an assistant coach at Santa Fe College and a member of the 2009 Santa Fe College state championship team. He coached the Santa Fe High Raiders since 2020. While his resume is impressive, his humility about it stood out. He consistently championed his former coach, Johnny Wiggs, as someone who left an impact on his own coaching style.

When asked about people in MLB that he looked up to as a player, his immediate answer was Ken Griffey Jr. However, he quickly transitioned into talking about one of his close friends, Tyler Holt, as an example of how players that work hard can also succeed.

From observing Coach Yeckring, it became clear why he expects his players to act with respect and humbleness: it’s the mandate he tries to meet in his own life. Moreover, his expectations for his players coupled with empathy for their personal situations was one of the reasons former players return to Santa Fe High’s dugout to watch the game. In discussing the seniors on the team, he vocalized the impact they have left on him.

“I thought I was going to get a little emotional . . . I’m a heart-on-my-sleeve type of guy. Our players know when I’m happy, when I’m sad, when I’m mad. It’s how I’ve been my whole life as a player and a coach.”

Focusing on the Future

Santa Fe High, under the leadership of Coach Yeckring, has a 4-1 record on the season. While he appreciated the ability of his players to score more than 10 runs in three out of the last four, he detailed the importance of losses to encourage improvement. He explained how they were going to face tough adversaries in the district playoffs. The games that have a healthy amount of pressure, in Travis’ opinion, better prepare them for the competition they will face in the future.

Santa Fe will rely on players from all levels of their academic career and experience in baseball to try to make it further this year in the state championship playoffs. However, the confidence that Travis Yeckring has in his players cannot be understated.

One of these players is Santa Fe’s basketball and baseball player Don’Trell Jenkins. Jenkins, one of Gainesville’s premier basketball players, scored over 1,000 points in his high school career. When he laces up his baseball cleats, he is a utility player who is utilized for his speed and leadership. Of Don’Trell Jenkins, he said:

He also outlined the importance of both his senior and freshman athletes, saying:

Before they face a championship run, the Raiders will play Clay High School, one of the games Travis looks forward to the most. When asked if a win against Clay would be particularly good for the team’s morale, he responded with a small smile.

“I want to say no, but yes. When we went to their [field] and won last year, it gave our guys some confidence. We know that those are the types of teams that we are going to have the play and beat in the postseason.”

Santa Fe High’s baseball season continues with games against Crystal River and Baker County, and, under the direction of Travis Yeckring, their season looks bright.

About Liana Handler

Liana Handler is a sophmore at the University of Florida, studying sports journalism.

Check Also

Photo Gallery: Santa Fe Raiders Achieve Fifth Straight Win

ALACHUA — The Santa Fe Raiders softball team secured a 10-2 win Tuesday against the …