KINGMAN - Kingman Academy High baseball coach Bill McCord took his son, Westin, and Austin Tomlinson on what was supposed to be a tour of the Mon-Dak Conference baseball schools last week. Their first stop was Miles Community College in Miles City, Mont., and it turned out to be their only stop.
"It's a fun community, and it's small," Westin McCord said. "The coach is really cool and everyone was nice to me. The philosophy is really great there."
Miles City is about 150 miles northeast of Billings and rests along the banks of the Yellowstone River. It is the seat of Custer County.
Miles CC coach Jeff Brabant believes his program got a deal. McCord plays primarily as the catcher for the Tigers but can play anywhere and pitch. Tomlinson is a shortstop who can also pitch.
"They both play a position and pitch," Brabant said. "That gives me two positions from one (player)."
McCord and Tomlinson are heading to a winning program. The Pioneers have won the Mon-Dak every season since 2001 and have won a National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) D-II region championship the last nine seasons. In 2007, Miles reached the D-II World Series.
Both players received scholarships worth $4,000, approximately 80 percent of the tuition costs and are guaranteed for the two years they will be there. During fall ball, they will get the opportunity to increase that amount on the field.
Miles City is a town of about 8,500 people, and the school reports a student population of 400. Miles CC has indoor facilities that the Pioneers use to get their preseason work, and they schedule a trip during the early spring here in Arizona to get games in before things warm up in Montana.
When Brabant gets players from a school and they work out, he's not shy about returning to that program for more players down the road. But getting two in the same year from so far away - 1,200 miles - doesn't happen every year.
"This is pretty rare," the coach said. "They'll fit in perfectly as long as they can handle the 10-below days."
Kingman Academy assistant coach Tim Pena said the Pioneers are getting a good deal with McCord. Pena would like to see McCord bulk up some by hitting the weights, but has no doubts as to McCord's ability to play at the next level.
"Westin brings with him a good work ethic and has a good knowledge of the game," Pena said. "You don't have to baby-sit him too much. I'm looking forward to him getting out there and seeing what he can do."
It was an easy decision for McCord. He wants to major in engineering, and Miles offers a pre-engineering program. And they have a baseball team.
"They'll help me find a college with my degree when I'm finished there," McCord said. "We got hang out with the team, and they seem pretty cool."
Tomlinson's athletic ability stood out to Brabant. Tomlinson played quarterback for the Tigers' football team and is a starting guard on the basketball team.
"He's been playing basketball the past three months and he came up here and didn't miss a beat," Brabant said. "That tell me he's a real good athlete."
Bill McCord, who has coached Tomlinson for years, said Tomlinson was little shell-shocked at first but became excited once he saw what the program at Miles was like.
"He's going to get the opportunity to play," McCord said. "When he's on the field, he leaves everything out there."
Tomlinson is going to use those two years at Miles to get his prerequisites out the way and may return to Kingman when he's finished to get a fire science degree. Playing college baseball has been a dream of his.
"I've been wanting to play college baseball for a long time," Tomlinson said. "By the looks of it, everything should be fine and good. I'm not a big city kind of guy."
Westin McCord said it best about what the two senior Tigers would have to learn when they get to Miles.