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Meet the Staff

Fletcher Bates (Founder, Instructor, Coach)

        Fletcher Bates is the owner of Coastal Athletics which has been in operation now for over 8 years. He is dedicated to giving the quality instruction needed for improvement and success on the playing field. Fletcher is also the father of P. Bates our youngest ROCK SOILD enthusiast. Fletcher began his baseball career at a young age and progressed until he was drafted in the fifth round by the New York Mets in 1993.  He retired after playing 10 years for the Mets, Marlins, Diamondbacks, Phillies, and Orioles organizations.Today, he continues his connection with MLB as an associate scout for the New York Mets.
        In his years of professional playing Fletcher has received several high achievement awards for his athletic excellence. He has the title of three time All Star as well as three time MVP at the professional level. He was also on baseball America's top 10 prospect list and the 40 man roster with the Marlins for 2 years. Fletcher’s professional experience is an invaluable asset to the Rock Solid team. Fletcher provides baseball instruction and training in all aspects of the game and he is the head owner/operator of the Coastal Athletics facility.

 

Click here to view Fletcher Bates' official stats

Trot Nixon (Coach)

        Christopher Trotman Nixon was born April 11, 1974 in Durham, NC.  He attended New Hanover High School in Wilmington where, as a senior, he was named the State Player of the Year in both football and baseball.  As a senior he was also named as the Baseball America High School Player of the Year and helped lead the Wildcats to the State 4A title, finishing the season with a .512 batting average, 12 home runs and a state-record 56 RBI's.  He also pitched 40 innings with a 12–0 record and a 0.40 ERA.  Trot was slated to join the North Carolina State football team on a scholarship before being drafted 7th overall by the Boston Red Sox in the 1993 MLB Draft.  The majority of his playing career was spent in Boston, where he played a key role on the 2004 World Series Championship team.  Trot also briefly played with the Indians, Diamondbacks, and Mets organizations.  For his career, Trot batted .274, had 137 HR's and 555 RBI's

Pete Gilardo (Instructor/Coach)

Pete Gilardo was born in Orangeburg, NY where he made a great name for himself. He excelled all four years at Dominican College (’04-’07) and finished with a career .328 batting average while also being named All-Conference three out of his four years. His most notable accomplishments in college consisted of being named to All-Tournament team after his Sophmore season with an astounding .800 BA for the tournament and also being named a 3 year Captain. Pete was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 2007 MLB Draft and spent most of his time as a catcher but was able to register a few innings on the mound as well. He caught some big name pitchers such as Jon Lester, Josh Becket, and John Smoltz. His experiences in baseball are invaluable to the programs development and the athletes he works with. Pete hopes to affect each of his players in the best way possible.

 

Kenny Flythe (Coach, Instructor)

Kenny Flythe was born in New Bern, NC where he was a multi-sport athlete throughout his high school career. While attending New Bern High Kenny was an All-Conference Shortstop. From New Bern Kenny had a quick stop at Louisburg College for his freshman season before heading to NC Wesleyan playing both Varsity Football and Baseball. During his baseball career at Wesleyan Kenny was an All-Conference and All-Tournament Outfielder on the 2006 D3 World Series Qualifiers. After college he spent some time overseas playing for the Slovanian National team before wrapping up his career.  

Michael Rooney ( Instructor/Coach)

 
Born in St. Louis, Missouri but grew up in Cary, North Carolina, Michael was a four year starter in the middle infield for the varsity baseball team at Cary High School and a 3 Time All-Conference Selection. From Cary, Michael attended college at UNC-Wilmington where he started at shortstop every game but one for his final three seasons as a Seahawk. Helped take UNCW to a regional his sophomore year playing all 62 games at shortstop. He finished his career in the top 10 at UNCW in OBP, Runs Scored, Walks, HBP, Double Plays Turned, as well as breaking the record for Career Assists and Single Season Assists in his senior season. Rooney was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 30th round in 2010 and spent 3 seasons in the minor leagues, making it up to Double-A while playing along side and against big leaguers like Manny Machado, Brian Roberts, Nick Markakis, Pudge Rodriguez, Adrian Gonzalez and others. He was used at all four infield spots during his minor league career, mostly short and second, as well as a few games in the outfield. He has an abundance of knowledge of the game and has a great passion for the game of baseball which he hopes to pass along to as many of the players as possible.

Rand Smith ( Coach/ Instructor)

 Rand is from Bolivia NC. He attended South Brunswick High school where he was a 3 sport athlete and received 12 varsity letters. Rand then recieved a baseball scholarship from Appalachian State University. He was an all-conference center fielder there. After college, Rand was drafted by the Miami Marlins in the 20th round of the first year player draft and spent 5 years in the Miami Marlins organization. While with the Marlins he played multiple positions and learned from some of the best instructors.
Along with his knowledge of the game, Rand is great at teaching the right way to play the game to the boys!

Daniel Cropper (Coach/Instructor)

Daniel Cropper was born and raised in Snow Hill, MD where he helped lead the Eagles to their first ever state title in his senior year.  After that he went on to play four years at UNC-Wilmington where he finished with a 4.36 ERA and in the top ten in several categories such as , wins(21), games started (50), most shutouts(3), and most strikeouts(236).  After being picked in the 42nd round of the draft by the Washington Nationals in 2009, Cropper decided to to go back to school and was picked up again as a Free Agent in 2011 by the San Diego Padres where he pitched all his innings out of the pen making it as high as Double A,  The last two years Daniel has pitched in the Frontier League for the Windy City Thunderbolts.  Daniel's knowledge of pitching and experience as both a starter and a reliever are beneficial to all pitchers looking to improve their skills.

Ben Longton ( Coach)

Ben graduated with honors in 2010from South Central High School in Winterville NC. He was a 3 year player on the baseball team playing left field and pitching. Ben was described as a real bull dog on the mound by his coach and was the teams effective closer and also starting pitcher.  He also led the team in batting average and homeruns his senior year. Ben attended North Carolina Wesleyan College his freshman year and quickly developed into the team’s closer and most of the year led the league in saves. Ben’s sophomore college season was at Wake Tech Community College where he was used as a spot starter and primary closer. Now attending the University of Wilmington Ben is a Psychology major with plans to pursue a Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy.  Ben was born in Massachusetts, is a big Boston sports fan and passionate about the Red Sox. He works as a camp counselor in the summer for children with special needs for the City of Greenville.

Keith Snethen ( Instructor/Coach)

Keith graduated from R-S Central High School in 2008 and went on to play at Spartanburg Methodist JC. After one year at SMC, he transferred to Catawba Valley CC to play the following two years and served as their catcher. He also has served as the hitting coach for his local Post 423 Junior American Legion team since the summer of 2008 and in 2009 reached the Area IV State Tournament finishing runner up. Keith is currently pursuing a degree in Physical Education at UNCW and will graduate in the fall of 2014.  Keith is a great addition to our program!

Jason Bentzler (Coach)

        Jason is a 1991 graduate of Taylor High School in Kokomo, Indiana, where he earned All-State baseball honors as a catcher.  Collegiately, Jason played his first two years at Missouri Valley College where he earned first team All-Conference honors before transferring and playing his final two seasons at Pembroke State University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in Special Education in 1996. Additionally, Jason received his Master’s degree in 2007 from East Carolina University, also in Special Education. Jason began his baseball coaching career in 1997. He has held assistant coaching duties at Lumberton High School, South Brunswick High School, Hoggard High School, and is currently the junior varsity coach at Laney High School in Wilmington. Jason was the head baseball coach at Trask High School in Rocky Point, NC for five seasons (2002-2007). Jason is extremely passionate about baseball and is always open to learning more about the game. His greatest enjoyment comes from working with young people to them develop their baseball skills, as well as teaching them positive character traits and work ethic essential for success in all aspects of life.
 

Jake Brinkley (Instructor, Coach)

        Jake Brinkley is an instructor and coach for the ROCK SOLID program and has many years of baseball playing experience. He was born in Wilmington NC, and started playing baseball at a young age. His older brother Josh Brinkley played professional baseball for the Montreal Expos for 10 years, so it’s no surprise that Jake is talented in the sport.  In high school he played for East Duplin High and was one of the top 50 ball players in the state from ’99- ‘03. After his success in high school he went on to play at Louisburg College on a baseball scholarship from ’03- ’05. He later transferred to Mt. Olive College and played ball from ’05-’07. Jake's focus on nutrition and strength training offers players postive encouragement and promotes a lifestyle and training program that will take athletes to the next level.

Tyree Robinson (Coach)

        Tyree's passion for baseball goes back to a youngster playing in the Little League parks of Wilmington, NC.  At the age of 13 Tyree was a proud member of a talented WORLD SERIES All-star team from Wilmington. In high school he was a 2 sport varsity letterman in baseball and football. He played pitcher and third base at John T. Hoggard High School where he earned Mid-Eastern 4A conference honors as a pitcher.  Was named MVP and Team Captain for the Vikings as they were 2-time Mid-Eastern 4A Champions. Tyree was selected to participate in the NCHSAA State Games as a junior and senior.  He accepted a baseball scholarship to St. Augustine's College in Raleigh, NC where he was voted team captain after his sophomore year. Tyree earned Coaches and Senior awards as a vital member of the Falcon's baseball program. He proved to be durable at St. Augustine's College by playing pitcher, 3B, 2B, and catcher.  Tyree continues his dedication to the game of baseball by instructing our youth and bringing positive energy to the ball field each day.

Jeff Christner (Instructor, Academic Advisor)

        Born and raised in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, Jeff Christner graduated from Ligonier Valley High School in 1993.  An avid athlete and exceptional wrestler, he enrolled at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania on a wrestling scholarship and ended up walking on to the baseball team.  He played the position of catcher for four years at Shippensburg University and was catcher for East Hills in the AAABA league in Johnstown, PA.  In his junior year at Shippensburg, he was the starting catcher for a team that ended up going to the 1996 Division II Baseball National Championships.  After college, Jeff continued to play baseball catching for three seasons with the Wilmington Indians.  He got involved with Coastal Athletics in 2005.  The organization has been a good fit for him because it allows him to combine his love of baseball with his teaching skills; (Jeff currently teaches at Eugene Ashley High School).  Jeff has coached the fall Wooden Bat League at Coastal Athletics since its inception and has been an Assistant Coach for the summer camp programs at Coastal for the past four years.

 

Darryl Lawhorn (Coach)

        Darryl Lawhorn is an experienced baseball player and coach that is dedicated to his passion. Darryl started playing ball at a young age and has had quite a successful career in baseball.  In high school he played at New Hanover High in Wilmington, NC from 98-01 and made the All Star team in ‘01. Darryl’s achievements include 2-time Post 10  player of the year in ’00-01, and East Carolina University’s co-national Freshman of the year in '02, he also holds the freshman records at ECU for hits, homeruns, games, at bats, batting average and total bases from ’02-‘04. Out of college he was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks where he played in ’04. He went on to play more professional baseball for 5 more years under the following teams: Arizona Diamondbacks, Cincinnati Reds, Oakland A’s, Washington Nationals, Kansas City T-bones (independent), and Fargo-Moorhead Red Hawks (independent). His areas of focus at Coastal Athletics and in the Rock Solid program are baseball instruction for ages 5-12 and coaching ages 13 and up.

P. Bates

        P. Bates is one of the biggest, youngest fans of ROCK SOLID. P. Bates helped decide on the ROCK SOLID name and helped design the mascot. He is very active around the facility and likes to help with tasks which include sorting numbers, greeting new players, answering phones, putting waters in the refrigerator and much much more! Without his encouragement and smiling face every day little would get done. P. Bates is an avid participant in our Rock Solid Program!

Nathan Culp (Instructor, Coach)

        Nathan Culp was born in Maryville, Illinois and has always had a passion for baseball. In high school, his talent for the sport was recognized and he was named the Alton Telegraph Player of the Year and first team all Metro St. Louis in 2003. He went on the play college baseball at the University of Missouri where he was named to the All Big 12 team three years in a row before being drafted in the 4th round by the San Diego Padres. He played professionally for 5 seasons before retiring from playing and returning home to coach. He currently coaches with the Rock Solid program and specializes in provides private pitching instruction at Coastal Athletics.