The only high school coach ever elected President of the ABCA, Tom O'Connell has spent over 45 years coaching baseball. From 1974-2000, he coached at Pulaski High School in Milwaukee where his teams won more games than any other sport in the school's history. In 2001, he became the head coach at Catholic Central High School in Burlington, Wisconsin, where he led the Hilltoppers to consecutive Wisconsin State Championships in 2004, 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2011. Combined, his teams won over 500 games.
Long involved in the ABCA, O'Connell was Chairman of the High School Division from 1984-1996 where he intitiated many of the policies still in use. He is also a Past President of the Wisconsin Baseball Coaches Association, where for 20 years he organized that state's successful Clinic and Convention. In 1987 he was inducted into the WBCA Hall of Fame, and, in 1991, was named their Man of the Year.
O'Connell remains a member of the ABCA's Board of Directors, Professional-Amateur Relations Committee, Hall of Fame Committee, and is Chair of the Ethics in Coaching Committee.
Four times named ABCA/Diamond Regional Coach of the Year (1983, 2004, 2005, 2010), O'Connell was selected as ABCA/Diamond National High School Coach of the Year in 2004. In 1995, he coached the North Team in the last United States Olympic Festival ever held, a squad that featured Major Leaguers Mark Mulder, Jody Gerut, and Robb Quinlan.
In 1993, O'Connell was selected as the first high school coach to participate in the Major League Baseball Envoy program – a program which paired American coaches with foreign club teams and schools – and served 10 years living with families and coaching club teams and introducing baseball in schools throughout Germany. He has led teams of professional and college coaches to all corners of Europe conducting clinics for International Sports Group.
O'Connell has been a part-time scout for the Reds, Dodgers, and the Philadelphia Phillies and an active member of the Society of American Baseball Research, serving as secretary for the Wisconsin Badger State/Ken Keltner Chapter.
In a coaching career that has spanned 43 years and four continents, Don Freeman has left his mark on the game of baseball around the world.
While Freeman has coached in the United States for the majority of his career, he spent the 2015 and 2016 seasons as an assistant coach for the Mainz Athletics, who compete in Germany’s top professional baseball league. In 2017, Freeman returned to the league as a manager for the Munich-Haar Disciples.
He also served as pitching coach for the German National Team in 2014 and worked as an Envoy for Major League Baseball in Germany for several years.
Here in the United States, Freeman’s head coaching career began in 1979 at Prairie High School in Vancouver, Washington, where he coached baseball, football, and gymnastics. In 26 seasons at Prairie, his baseball teams claimed two state championships in 1986 and 1989.
After his departure from Prairie in 2004, Freeman took over as the head coach at Hillsboro High School in Oregon for three seasons before returning to Washington as the baseball coach at Heritage High School in 2008. In 2010, he left Heritage and began the process of rebuilding the program at Clark College in Vancouver that had been dormant since the 1992 season.
In just four seasons under Freeman, Clark College became a top contender in the Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC). His 2014 team finished atop their division and competed in the NWAC playoffs, ending the season with a 31-15 record.
Freeman was named an NFHSCA Regional Coach of the Year in 1995 and is a three-time ABCA/Diamond Regional Coach of the Year (2000, 2003 and 2008).
He coached USA Baseball under-16 national teams at two Pan American Games and two World Championships. In 2010, Freeman was the head coach for the USA Baseball Women’s National Team that finished third at the World Championship.
For 10 years, Freeman served as the president of the Washington High School Baseball Coaches Association. During that time, he was instrumental in the formation of the Washington/Oregon All-Star Classic, now known as the Cascade Classic, which includes the state of Idaho as well.
Freeman is a well-respected clinician who speaks at baseball clinics around the world. He has spoken at multiple national conventions including the 2008 ABCA Convention in Philadelphia.
He has remained heavily involved with ABCA, currently serving on the association’s Ethics in Coaching Award Committee. He previously spent nine years on its All-America and Coach of the Year Committee.
In 1996, Freeman was inducted into the Washington Baseball Hall of Fame and was inducted to the T.O.D.A.Y Foundation Southwest Washington Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004.
After graduating from Western Michigan University in 1966, where he played for ABCA Hall of Fame coach Charlie Maher, Terry Ayers received his Masters of Arts degree from Northwestern in 1970 and was a graduate assistant in football. His high school coaching career began in 1972 as head baseball coach at Fenton High School where he had a lifetime career record of 334-231 until retiring in 1989. After Fenton, Ayers coached AAU baseball taking them to the National tournament three times and had a lifetime record of 198-79.
In 1990 Ayers became the regional Director for Doyle Baseball School. As regional director he was the lead instructor in hundreds of baseball schools for players and coaches, giving coaching seminars in Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, Kentucky, and Illinois. He also is a member of the Pitch and Hit Club of Chicago where he serves as Secretary and on the Board of Directors. He co-chairs the annual Showcase for the Club, and in 2009, received the Pitch and Hit Club Charlie Hum Service Award for contributions to the community service in baseball.
Ayers has spoken at several state coaches clinics, as well as the National Baseball Coaches Clinic in 1999 and the ABCA Convention in 2001. Ayers currently serves on the ABCA Hall of Fame Committee.
In 2006, Ayers came out of retirement after his son was finished playing college baseball at the University of Louisville. He is currently the volunteer assistant Pitching Coaching at St. Charles North High School, in St. Charles Illinois. Helping the team win a Conference Championship in 2007 as well as the Regional Championship in 2007 and 2008.
Ayers received the Len Diforte Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998 and was elected into the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
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