On the field at Morris Frank Park, Bud Maddux is back where he belongs.
He is out with the new 11-12 year old All-Stars of the Lufkin Little League. The players are wanting to repeat the success of last year's All-Stars by going to the Little League World Series for a second straight year.
Last year's Thundering 13 have aged out of the group that goes to Williamsport and plays on national television. Even with new faces, there is some continuity with last year's group.
Maddux gained national attention with his no-nonsense coaching style that saw the Lufkin All-Stars win the U.S. Championship last year.
"It seems like it was yesterday," Maddux said. "You still think a lot about it but this is a different group of boys."
There was talk that Maddux would not come back after the U.S. Championship that brought the coach's major tournament wins to 10 total in his career.
"I was tired," Maddux said. "I needed some rest plus I was following Kyle Lovelace around with the Houston Cougars. I didn't know if I could do but I decided I would."
Maddux had a formula last year where he required all the players to be at two practices a day. It is the same format. The practices look the same. The same format at the same time.
"I was expecting that but I wasn't expecting him to work us this hard," Jadon Grigson said. We know the consequences like running triangles around the field."
Maddux calls it a process.
"I am not being hard on them," Maddux said. "I am just getting them to understand what it takes to be successful. It is going to be tough this year. Whoever comes out of this district is going to be tough. They are going to have to be pretty good."
The team will begin district play with the two Tyler Little Leagues and the Pineywoods Little League out of Longview on June 16 in Tyler.
Copyright 2018 KTRE. All rights reserved.