3 Top college coaches from 3 different Division, 1-2 and 3. Great perspectives on recruiting, type of players, building a successful program, coaching, utilizing technology, coaching styles they changed and so much more. Rick Heller Head Coach University of Iowa/Coach of the Year/Big Ten Championship Lunch McKenzie Concordia University St. Paul/USA BB National Team Coach John Vodenlich Head Coach, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater/Two National Titles/Twice National Coach of the Year. Things discussed: Developing relationships with players, coaches and parents. Personality tests. Ways you changed as a coach manager throughout the years and in the last 3-4 years with technology, etc. Your managing style. Why college coaches go to showcases and ask more about players from travel team coaches and not as much high school coaches. Recruiting process and what you look for in players. Does not matter if your Old school/New School/both, but more important need to stay in school. Continual education, how? Developing Growth mindset. Training to deal with failure is a process, practiced all the time. Chaos/Comfort. Parents involvement. Players when they make an error say, My Bad, not a good thing to say, why? When recommending a player you have to know if the player fits personality, ability and you have to know the coaches, type of team, etc. A lot more to this awesome episode. Your Host Peter Caliendo, at Web Site: www.baseballoutsidethebox.com Twitter @baseballout
Rick Heller has turned the University of Iowa baseball program into a perennial Big Ten Conference and NCAA contender in his first seven seasons as the Hawkeyes’ head coach.
Heller has injected new life into the Iowa program, leading the Hawkeyes to the 214 victories — an average of 30.5 wins per season — advancing to two NCAA Regionals, and claiming the first Big Ten Tournament title in program history. The 2017 title was Iowa’s first since winning the regular season crown in 1990.
The Eldon, Iowa, native became the 20th head coach in program history in 2013 — his fourth stop as a collegiate head coach. He has enjoyed stints at Iowa (2014-present), Indiana State (2009-13), Northern Iowa (1999-2009), and Upper Iowa (1987-99), leading all four schools to NCAA postseason play. He is one of nine coaches all-time and one of five active coaches to lead three different Division I programs to NCAA Regional play.
In 34 seasons as a head coach, Heller owns a career record of 904-703-4. He is one of two Iowa head coaches to lead the program to the NCAA Tournament.
Under Heller’s watch, Iowa advanced to the postseason in six consecutive years for the first time in program history, he has coached six All-Americans and at least one first-team All-Big Ten selection in five seasons. Iowa has had 21 Major League Baseball Draft picks in six seasons — the most in a six-year stretch all-time.
Heller has also given the Hawkeyes an international flavor, taking the team to the Dominican Republic in 2016 and Taipei, Taiwan, as the United States representative at the 2017 World University Games. Heller led USA to a silver medal, as the team became the first American squad to medal in Universiade history.
USA team went 5-2 during the two-week stretch, before falling to Japan in the gold medal game. The Americans posted victories over Mexico, Russia, Korea, and two games against the Czech Republic. Junior Cole McDonald tossed a nine-inning no-hitter in game one against the Czechs — the first by a Hawkeye since 1965.
During Heller’s second season, Heller guided Iowa to an at-large berth into NCAA Regional play in 2015 — a first for the program since 1990 — and the team posted the school’s first NCAA Tournament win since 1972. The Hawkeyes were the runners-up at the 2016 Big Ten Tournament before claiming the program’s first tournament title in 2017 to lock up the school’s second NCAA Regional appearance in three seasons.
Iowa made just three NCAA Tournament appearances in its history prior to Heller’s arrival.
Mark “Lunch” McKenzie concluded his 20th year as the head baseball coach at Concordia University, St. Paul in 2019 and remains on the staff as an assistant coach.
COACHING TEAM SUCCESS FIRST
The 2005 NSIC Coach of the Year became the program's all-time wins leader in 2008 and carries a 456-361-1 overall career record, while leading the team to a 281-234 record in Northern Sun play. His 2009 team also holds the school wins record, finishing 35-18 overall while the 2014 and 2016 Golden Bears won a program record 20 Northern Sun games.
He guided the Golden Bears to NSIC Championships in the 2003 and 2008 seasons, winning the conference tournament each season while reaching the NCAA Central Region Tournament for the first time in school history. The program's 2003 NSIC Championship and 2008 NCAA Tournament appearance were the first men's teams in Concordia's Division II & NSIC history (1999-00 to present) to accomplish the feats for the athletic department. The Golden Bears again reached the NSIC Championship game in 2016 and 2018, falling to St. Cloud State in 2016 and Augustana in 2018.
DEVELOPING FUTURE STARS
McKenzie has had four Golden Bears drafted since 2009 with Jake Schmidt (41st round, Chicago Cubs) in 2009, Bryan Lippincott (19th round, Washington Nationals) in 2012, Gus Varland (14th Round, Oakland Athletics) and Louie Varland (15th Round, Minnesota Twins). Schmidt and Lippincott were both NCAA statistical champions as well, with Schmidt leading all Division II pitchers in strikeouts per game while Lippincott was the NCAA batting champion (all levels). While Lippincott won the national batting title, the program has also produced a pair of NCAA Central Region batting titles and three Northern Sun batting champions.
Schmidt, Lippincott, and Varland are three of Concordia baseball's seven All-Americans, as Brenden Furrow, Matt Borman, Chris Herbert and Kyle Dalton also received All-America recognition. Lippincott was also the two-time Capital One Academic All-American of the Year for the sport of baseball.
Major awards have been a part of the program under McKenzie, as the team has featured an NSIC Player of the Year (Lippincott), three NSIC Pitchers of the Year (Schmidt, Borman, Varland), four NSIC Newcomers of the Year and an NSIC Freshman of the Year along with three NSIC Tournament MVP awards.
McKenzie has also coached two Central Region Gold Glove winners, 67 All-Conference players and 152 NSIC All-Academic student-athletes.
In his time at Concordia, he's had 19 players with professional baseball experience on their resume's.
McKENZIE BRINGS MAJOR OUTSIDE EXPERIENCE TO THE PLATE
In 2010, McKenzie was recognized by Baseball Canada as the 2010 Cito Gaston Humanitarian Award winner which exemplifies commitment to furthering the development of baseball in Canada by a non-resident. Past winners of the award include MLB All-Stars Joe Carter, Jon Olerud and Moises Alou.
|Quote from Baseball Ontario 23rd Annual Best Ever Coaches Clinic
courtesy www.bluejays.com – January 28, 2010
|“Mark ‘Lunch' McKenzie gave one of the best hitting analysis
I've heard in my life. These are tips that I will take with
me and hopefully use with some of the younger players.”
|– Sal Fasano, Manager Lansing Lugnuts (Class A Toronto) and former MLB catcher (1996-2008 with 9 teams including KC & Oak)|
Lunch has coached baseball for 52 years at many different levels including Little League, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, American Legion, High School and College. He has also completed 22 tours of duty with USA Baseball and the Olympic Development Program, working in various capacities ranging from scouting and cross checking to being an assistant coach as well as the head coach.
As the head coach, his 1998 USA Baseball National Team won the World Championship and Gold Medal. The team was named Baseball Team of the Year by the United States Olympic Committee. That same year Lunch was awarded the USOC Developmental Coach of the Year honor.
Coach McKenzie has been the hitting coach for three USA Baseball National Teams, the 16U team in 1997 and 1998 as well as the 18U team in 2008. The 1998 team set the 16U record for the highest team batting average at .428 (aluminum bats) while winning the Gold and the 2008 team holds the 18U record for team batting average at .330 (wood bats) while taking home the Silver.
In addition, Coach McKenzie has been a part of 14 Gold Medal teams as well as two Silvers and a Bronze in international competition.
An accomplished clinician, Lunch has spoken at numerous clinics and banquets around the country and in Canada including the ABCA National Convention in San Diego and Reggie Jackson’s Hall of Fame Dinner in Cooperstown, N.Y.
He has also become a mainstay speaker at the USA Baseball NTIS Symposium in Raleigh, N.C.
In 1997, McKenzie was named to the USA Baseball National Board of Coaching Education, a six-member panel in charge of creating the curriculum that is used to instruct new coaches interested in becoming Junior Olympic and National Team Coaches.
McKenzie’s teams have won 37 championships over the years including four state and five regional championships.
THE LUNCH LINE to the PRO's
Lunch has won dozens of coaching awards over the years. More than 300 of his players and students have moved on to college baseball and 88 have moved on to professional baseball including 24 first round draft picks – highlighted by 10 first rounders in the 2009 draft. He's had 22 former players move on to play in the Major Leagues.
John Vodenlich recently completed his 17th season at the helm of the UW-Whitewater baseball program in 2019-20. He has taken the Warhawks to heights unreached prior to his arrival on campus.
While the UW-Whitewater program has had longstanding success, Vodenlich has set a new standard, turning the Warhawks into a NCAA Division III college baseball power. He entered the 2020 season ranked fourth among active Division III coaches in winning percentage (.728) and 29th in wins (604), and 14th all time in Division III history in winning percentage.
During Vodenlich’s 17 seasons as head coach, the Warhawks have won 12 Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championships, qualified for the NCAA Championships 14 times and appeared in the NCAA Division III College World Series six times, including winning the 2014 and 2005 NCAA Division III National Championships.
In 2019, UW-Whitewater swept the WIAC regular season and tournament championships and finished with a 35-12 record after reaching the NCAA Tournament for the 12th straight season. Cal Aldridge was selected as the consensus Midwest Region Player of the Year and a first team All-American by D3baseball.com and the American Baseball Coaches Association. Vodenlich also claimed his 600th career win.
In 2018, Vodenlich led the Warhawks to their second straight WIAC championship and fifth in the last six years. UW-Whitewater's Daytona Bryden was named D3baseball.com National Position Player of the Year and joined Aldridge as a consensus first team All-American.
In 2017, Vodenlich achieve his 500th win at UW-Whitewater and was named WIAC Coach of the Year and D3baseball.com Midwest Region Coach of the Year. He led the Warhawks a sweep of the WIAC regular season and tournament championships and the team's 10th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.
In 2016, Vodenlich became the 43rd active Division III coach to reach 500 career wins in the Warhawks' NCAA regional-clinching 11-0 victory over Rose-Hulman (Ind.). UW-Whitewater reached the NCAA Championship round for the fourth time since 2008 and the sixth time under Vodenlich.
In 2015, Vodenlich passed his former head coach and current mentor Jim Miller for the most coaching wins in program history, picking up career victory No. 417 at UW-Whitewater in the team's first game at UW-Oshkosh on April 7. In that same year, he became the youngest inductee into the Wisconsin Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
Vodenlich earned his 400th career victory during the team's 2014 World Series appearance. The Warhawks knocked off SUNY Cortland (N.Y.) 9-6 to make Vodenlich the second coach in program history to reach the milestone.
Vodenlich has been on the coaching staff for all 12 of UW-Whitewater’s winningest seasons, with 10 of the 12 coming during his time as head coach. During the 2000’s, the Warhawks had the 11th most victories in NCAA Division III.
Off the field, Vodenlich has been honored as the WIAC Coach of the Year 10 times, was named the NCAA Division III National Coach of the Year by the American Baseball Coaches Association in 2005 and 2014, and was honored as the NCAA Regional Coach of the Year in 2004, 2005, 2008, 2010, 2014 and 2017.
In 2007, Vodenlich was inducted into the UW-Whitewater Athletic Hall of Fame as a former student-athlete and was awarded with the WBCA College Coach of the Year in 2004, 2008 and 2010. He was tabbed the WBCA’s Man of the Year in 2005.
Players coming to play under Vodenlich can expect to grow thanks to his determined player development exertions. Seventeen student-athletes have developed into All-Americans during Vodenlich’s tenure.
Since joining the UW-Whitewater program as a player in 1989 and the coaching staff in 1994, 30 former Warhawks have signed professional contracts, the first being former Major League closer Bob Wickman, who Vodenlich caught at UW-Whitewater.
In addition to his great impact on the game in the United States, Vodenlich also is an internationally known clinician, conducting coaching clinics in Germany, England, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia and Hungary.
Before joining the coaching ranks, Vodenlich was one of the best players to ever take the field for the Warhawks. Playing from 1989-1992, Vodenlich finished with a .397 career batting average, good for third all-time in school history. His .456 average in 1991 is the third best single season average in program history.
Vodenlich was an ABCA All-American in 1991 and 1992, the first two-time All-American at UW-Whitewater.
Following his collegiate career, Vodenlich went on to play professionally in Europe, winning the Slovenian National Championship in 1994.
Vodenlich joined Jim Miller’s coaching staff as an assistant coach in 1994 and stayed on the staff until 1998, when he was named the head coach at Edgewood College.
Prior to Vodenlich’s tenure at Edgewood, the Eagles had an all-time record of 33-133 and never had seen a winning season.
Vodenlich needed just two seasons to change that, setting a school record for wins in his first season before shattering it the following season, helping Edgewood to its first winning campaign in program history.
Following the 1999 season, Vodenlich returned to UW-Whitewater and rejoined Miller’s staff as an assistant coach.
With Miller’s retirement coming following the 2003 season, the Warhawks didn’t have to look far to find their seventh head coach in school history.
It’s a hire the school certainly hasn’t regretted.
Naming Vodenlich head coach for the 2004 season immediately paid off for the university as the Warhawks set a new school record for wins and made just their second trip to the NCAA Division III College World Series.
Under Vodenlich’s guidance in 2005, UW-Whitewater set a new school record for wins with 45, fewest losses with 7 and made another trip to Appleton for the College World Series. This time around the Warhawks weren’t denied, claiming their first national championship.
UW-Whitewater qualified for the College World Series in 2008 and again in 2011. The Warhawks returned to Appleton in 2014, winning the program's second-ever NCAA Division III championship to complete the institution's “trifecta” of national titles during the 2013-14 academic year. The Warhawks' football, men's basketball and baseball teams all won national championships to become the first school at any level of the NCAA to win those three titles in the same year. UW-Whitewater made another trip to Appleton in 2016 after winning three straight games following a loss at the Central Regional.
With a bachelor's in marketing and public relations from UW-Whitewater in 1992, Vodenlich earned his master's in business administration from the university in 1994.
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