Chris Pollard has spent his entire baseball coaching career instilling discipline, perspective and poise into players through his leadership.
All college sports teams are evolving every day, month and season, but the one constant within successful programs is an established culture. Duke Baseball has not only developed an inclusive culture under Coach Pollard that players can lean on, but also become a nationally recognized baseball brand that alumni like me can be proud of.
One tangible culture-driver is the Leadership Council that Coach Pollard created during my freshman season in 2014. The inclusion of player-driven ideas isn't always encouraged in college athletics, but Coach continues to facilitate trust and place value in players’ ideas. In meetings, elected players from each class discuss critical adjustments (“What do you think about breaking out the machine for BP going into the regional? Our report has all of the arms we’ll face up over 93.”) and tiny details (“We’ve gotten some internal pushback from guys on the pregame Chick-fil-A sandwiches now being grilled instead of fried”).
Some of these issues may seem insignificant to an ACC baseball coach, but over the course of a 60-game season, they add up. Coach Pollard has taught me and countless others how to lead, work and win. After five straight 30-plus-win seasons, Duke’s first regional appearance since the 1960s and a record-breaking 2018 campaign, it’s impossible to imagine a better leader of this program.
Max Miller, T'18, was a starting second baseman and captain for the Duke baseball team.
Editor's note: This profile is part of our annual initiative called The Chron15. We are highlighting 15 people and groups who are defining what it means to be at Duke this year. Read about the project and more of our selections.