The Cone Era: Brothers Return to Area to Usher in a New Day at Tenoroc
Tue. February 12, 2013 at 2:00 a.m. | By Bill Kemp
FROM LEFT, Tenoroc assistant baseball coach Aaron Cone, head coach Ian Cone and assistant baseball coach Derek Cone are looking at bringing a new attitude to the Titans in their first year. The brothers grew up and played high school baseball in Polk. (Photo by PIERRE DUCHARME | THE LEDGER)
By BILL KEMP
LEDGER MEDIA GROUP
LAKELAND | Tenoroc baseball shouldn't encounter any problems creating chemistry this season. At least not among the coaching staff — they're brothers.
New head coach Ian Cone takes over the Titans' program and his brothers, Aaron and Derek, are the new assistant coaches.
"The Cone era has arrived," Ian said. "In my eyes we're going to play baseball like you've never seen it before. We're bringing the collegiate level to the high-school level. The players are not only going to learn how to play baseball but they're going to learn to be a man. They're going to learn to grow up."
Ian Cone played at Lakeland High School (1985-87) and later became the head coach at Sonrise Christian School (2001-2003), where he guided the Seminoles to a district championship in 2003. In between he played at the University of South Carolina-Salkehatchie in Allendale, S.C.
"I went as far as I could go at Sonrise," Ian said. "I actually wanted the Tenoroc job five years ago when the school was built but I wanted to watch my brothers play (at the college level). That's the reason I stepped away from coaching."
Aaron also played high school baseball at Lakeland, graduating in 2002. Ironically, his next stop was Lakeland Community College — in Lakeland, Ohio — where he broke seven school records including batting average, home runs and RBIs. He also became a two-time JUCO All-American.
"It was almost like a joke when you come back home and people see that you are playing at Lakeland Community College," said Aaron, who also played at North Carolina State.
Derek graduated from Santa Fe (2005) before also moving on to play at USC-Salkehatchie and eventually Southeastern University, where he became an NAIA All-American and NAIA Academic All-American in 2010.
"This the first time we've coached together. It's something we've talked about for eight years." Ian said. "The neat thing about Tenoroc is this is where we were raised on the east side of Lakeland. It feels like home to us. We're home-grown and staying home."
Ian said he even informed Tenoroc Athletic Director Pam Lancaster that he has no intentions of ever leaving Tenoroc for greener outfields.
"I told her I want that Bill Castle effect,'' Ian said. "I want to be here forever. When you hire me I'm not going to be here for a year or two. I'm going to be here forever. I'm not that coach that wants to transfer schools. This is where we live."
Lancaster said she noticed a new excitement with the team.
"We're excited and we wait to see what happens with the program," she said.
The arrival of the Cone era will also usher in a new look and new style of play. Tenoroc's new uniforms arrived but Cone kept them under lock and key until the Titans opened the season at Lake Region on Friday.
"We went through Nike to get them," Ian said. "They're black with purple letters. The players have been begging me every day to pass them out. We redesigned everything, everything is new.
"With the new uniforms, new hats and new practice gear, we should look totally different. It's a fresh start, it's the Cone era."
The fresh start also includes getting back to the basics.
The Cones plan to play a brand of small-ball that includes bringing back a lost art in baseball.
"You're going to bunt," Ian said. "I don't care if you're my No. 3 guy and you generate five to 10 home runs a year, you're going to bunt. We're going to be what is considered a small-ball baseball team these days."