By STEVE KRAH
Sean Laird knows about physical adversity.
As a senior at Kokomo (Ind.) High School, he suffered a fracture to his L4 and L5 vertebrae and had torn muscles in his back.
A four-year letterman and all-conference, all-state and Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North/South All-Star Series selection as a senior in 2005, Laird was good enough as a Wildkat (he set several KHS school records, playing for three head coach — Ed Moon in 2002, Jim Jameson in 2003 and 2004 and Steve Edwards in 2005) and a member of the Indiana Bulls (he helped the 17U team to a World Series runner-up finish in 2003 and Final Four appearance in 2004 while working with the Moore family — Craig, Jered, Quinn and Lance — plus Gary Sylvester and Mick Thornton) to play NCAA Division I baseball and showed up at the University of South Alabama hurt.
Playing through injuries, Laird logged four seasons (2006-10) for the Jaguars and hit .319 with 23 home runs, 41 doubles and 110 runs batted in. A 92 mph fastball shattered his right hand during his junior season. He played his entire senior season with tears in his labrum and rotator cuff and took Cortisone injections to get through it. There was nerve damage and bone spurs in his shoulder. Professional organizations still showed interest his last two years in Mobile, Ala.
“Doctors were saying this obviously is going to need surgery and if you want to play catch with your kids one day it’s probably better to rehab and take care of yourself,” says Laird. “That was a decision I made.
“Looking back on it now, it was all for a reason.”
That reason became seeing young men and women get stronger and be recognized for their hard work.
Laird received his bachelor’s degree in Sports Management and a master’s degree in Health with a focus on Exercise Science.
He spent one season on the Kokomo coaching staff (2012) became a Indiana Bulls 17U coach/strength and conditioning in the summer of 2011 (a role he still fills and is assisted by Zionsville Community High School head coach Jered Moore).
After two years as strength and conditioning specialist at Westfield (Ind.) High School, he began what is now Laird’s Training LLC in 2014. In 2016, he authored “How to Build a Ballplayer.”
“It’s about how I built myself into a D-I ballplayer and all the trials and tribulations,” says Laird of the book. “I wanted to get all that stuff out of my head so I could share it and help other ballplayers conquer the same things I had to conquer.”
His coaching and life is based on three principles.
“It’s 100 percent character development, discipline and accountability,” says Laird. “People talk about what natural talent does somebody have in life. For me, if you can instill the discipline and teach kids how to hustle — whether it’s in the classroom, on the field or just in life in general — no matter what they choose do do, they’re going to be successful.
“How I run my business and how I coach is 100 percent to get them ready for that next level. That might not be professional. It might be college. It’s also the next level in life.
“Everybody’s going to go through problems in life and adversity. But if you can teach yourself how to have that discipline, you can conquer anything.”
Laird conducts speed camps and strongman training at The Bullpen Academy in Russiaville and two days at home in garage gym in Kokomo.
The 33-year-old is constantly learning.
When it comes to certifications, I’m always getting new ones. I’m always going to clinics continuing my education. If you’re not moving forward, if you’re not getting smarter, you’re regressing.
Besides his masters, Laird is a Certified Physical Preparation Specialist (which means knows how to train athletes in the weight room and in speed and agility for all sports). He also a Certified Underground Strength & Conditioning coach through Zach Even-Esh and is certified in Body Tempering (recovery) and Pn1 (Precision Nutrition).
“I try to formulate an eating plan for each athlete,” says Laird. “Most kids that come to see me are trying to gain muscle.”
Laird says the field of strength and conditioning is ever-changing.
When he was in high school, it was about putting on as much mass as possible and the lifts were power clean, bench press and squat.
“Those are great movements,” says Laird. “But it’s like anything else in life. If you’re only staying in one lane, you’re very limited in your potential.
“The main job for a strength coach is to keep athletes healthy. If we can’t keep them healthy, they can’t be on the field.”
The goal is to make sure the athlete moves their bodies correctly and are taught the proper movement patterns — with and without a load.
“We make sure it’s going to help him with his sport and — ultimately — make him a better athlete,” says Laird.
At South Alabama, Laird played for head coach Steve Kittrell and assistant Alan Luckie. Kittrell is now coaching softball at Spring Hill College in Mobile and Luckie is still at USA.
“Coach Kittrell was definitely a blue-collar type guy,” says Laird. “He focused on the little things.
“He was really a big mind in the game. So many guys learned so much from him.”
Among those were former Bulls Quinn Moore and Jeff Cunningham and future big leaguers Adam Lind (Anderson Highland High School graduate) and David Freese.
Laird took all the information gathered as a player and from his schooling and cultivated my own coaching culture and atmosphere.
Sean and Lauren Laird were high school sweethearts. The couple has three children — Scarlett (3), Crash Levi (18 months) and Arya (born Oct. 24). Crash is named for Kevin Costner’s character in the 1988 movie “Bull Durham.”
Sean Laird is a head coach for the Indiana Bulls 17 Black travel baseball team.
Sean Laird, coach of the Indiana Bulls 17 Black travel baseball team and owner of Laird’s Training LLC, spends a moment with his two oldest children Scarlett and Crash Levi.
Sean and Lauren Laird welcomed Arya to their family Oct. 24, 2019.
The Lairds (from left): Lauren, Crash Levi, Scarlett and Sean. Arya was born Oct. 24, 2019.
Sean Laird is the founder and owner of Laird’s Training LLC and head coach for the Indiana Bulls 17 Black travel team. He is a graduate of Kokomo (Ind.) High School and has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of South Alabama.