Roberto Carrasco's plan for the day was simple: kick back and watch some late-season football.
An unexpected phone call from Lamar Community College head baseball coach Ben Buck changed his day, and quite possibly his career path.
"He was like, 'What do you think about coaching at the college level?'" Carrasco said.
Though Carrasco had thought about a future in high school coaching, he had never really considered the college level. But with the recent departure of assistant coach Eric Dorton, and with opening day looming on February 2, time was of the essence. Luckily for the Lopes, Carrasco, a former Lopes infielder who played under Buck during his days at West Texas A&M, needed only a day to decide it was right time to jump on the impromptu offer and return to Merchant's Park.
"My biggest goal after school would have been high school (coaching) but when you get that opportunity to coach at the college level you got to take it," Carrasco said. "Buck was like, 'OK cool, we need you here in 10 days.'"
For Buck, Carrasco was another former Lope who already possessed a passion not only for the sport, but for the LCC program.
"We are really excited to bring Coach Carrasco on board," Buck said. "It's always challenging find a new assistant halfway through the year, and we are lucky to find a coach who is as forward-thinking and advanced as he is. Being an alum, he has an immediate passion for Lamar CC and wants to have the same affect that it had on him. He has a bright future in this profession and we are excited that he is joining us on this journey."
Like Dorton before him, Carrasco returns to an athletic department that includes two of his former coaches -- Buck, who was his assistant coach for the 2015 season at West Texas A&M, and athletic director Scott Crampton, who was his head coach for his 2013 and 2014 seasons at Lamar. The familiarity with both assured Carrasco it would be a place for him to develop as a coach under the tutelage of the most important baseball figures in his life.
"I was very excited, especially with Coach Buck, he's a very intelligent guy," Carrasco said. "Having him and Crampton still around is huge for me. That's the best you can ask for from any staff."
Now a couple weeks into his college coaching career, Carrasco has taken the reins of Lamar's offensive development and the infield defense. He noted how the focus on small, incremental growth will lead to greater team success this season and beyond.
"When you have the type of resources you have here to focus on each individual, the individual development will bring a lot of good to the program," Carrasco said.
The Lopes have been highlighting their use of Rapsodo, a training system that uses radar and a camera to analyze detailed aspects of a ball's flight both from a pitch (velocity, spin rate, break, etc) and off the bat (exit velocity, launch angle, exit direction, etc.). The knowledge he picked up through his playing days, matched with the infusion of technology-based training utilized by the Lopes, helps Carrasco give each player personalized training that increases their chances of reaching their potential.
"Being under Crampton, getting a basic understanding of how the body moves, what it does, was a complete mind-blow to me," Carrasco said. "Now that we can teach that portion on top of the technology, we can measure how good these kids can be and try to get them there so they go on to a four-year and get them to be successful there."
Though opening day's doubleheader against Colorado State's club team is still a week away, Carrasco already can characterize this team as one that is hungry to win.
"You can definitely see who's very competitive, especially in the weight room," Carrasco said.
Carrasco taught private lessons in Canyon, Texas, after college, and envisioned a high school coaching job in his future.
"I've always wanted to coach high school and develop kids to provide that opportunity to play in college," Carassco said. "Because those two years I played here completely changed my life as a player and as a person."
At Lamar, Carrasco finds he can make that same impact on two-year players still passionate about personal and player development, striving to get to the next level.