By Jeff Mitchell
February 27, 2012
Those who know me well will attest that very few topics get me going like baseball does. I love everything about the sport, from its tradition to its quirks. I’m fascinated with the nuances of the game, and I hold a particular affinity for both the infield fly rule and a well-turned double play. As a former collegiate student-athlete, I fondly recall my experience as a four-year member of the baseball team at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi. As I reflect on my collegiate experience, I consider myself fortunate to have been a part of a program that respects baseball and that boasts a long tradition of excellence.
So it will come as no surprise that I have a special interest in developing the improvement of Santa Clara baseball. One of my responsibilities as an Assistant Athletic Director is to serve as the sport administrator for our baseball program. This past summer, our Athletic Director, Dan Coonan, and I set out to find a new head baseball coach for Santa Clara. Our goal was to find an individual who had a history of developing winning baseball teams and who stood for what is good, right, and pure about intercollegiate athletics.
Throughout our month-long search last June, we were fortunate to get to know Dan O’Brien, who at the time was the head coach at the University of California, San Diego. We quickly learned that Coach O’Brien was the catalyst for the storied success of the UCSD baseball program. A former Triton player, Coach O’Brien served as the head coach for his alma mater for fourteen years before taking the job at Santa Clara. He had led the Tritons from the ranks of NCAA Division III to a national power in Division II. A two-time national coach of the year, Coach O’Brien was the perfect choice at the perfect time for Santa Clara. I am extraordinarily proud that he is the 36th head coach in program history.
An enthusiast for the tradition of baseball, Coach O’Brien is leading a revival on the Mission Campus as baseball is being re-introduced to the Santa Clara faithful. The Bronco baseball tradition is 130 years rich, and Coach O’Brien wants everyone, especially our current student-athletes, to know about it. Our revamped club house with its hall of history pays homage to our past, while contemporary motivators and amenities adorn the new team room. Our coaches and players wear traditional “old school” uniforms and burned cork eye-black is the face paint of choice for the team.
I have enjoyed watching our team jump out to a fast start this season. The energy and enthusiasm that our team displays is a credit to Coach O’Brien and his staff. Together, the team takes a disciplined and relentless approach to playing the game. Our players believe in each other, and the pride of representing Santa Clara University is evident by the spirited effort with which our team takes the field every day.
I am excited about the future of Santa Clara baseball even as we celebrate its past. Our coaching staff has worked tirelessly to develop our current roster. Recruiting for next season has been promising, and the outpouring of support from the University and the surrounding community has been overwhelmingly positive. Believe me when I say that Santa Clara baseball is a program on the rise.
Coach O’Brien’s hire was important to me. I want our players to have an experience similar to that of mine when I played, and I want our players to learn about winning on the field and to appreciate developing as men off the field. Coach O’Brien has already demonstrated his unwavering commitment to those causes, and I am honored to work beside him to help achieve our shared goals. Indeed, Santa Clara’s baseball program is in good hands under Coach O’Brien’s leadership.
Thank you for your support of Bronco baseball. Many of you have asked how you can help the cause, and I invite you to do the following:
- Attend games
- Buy season tickets
- Make a donation to Santa Clara baseball in honor of the person who introduced you to the game
- Spread the word about the exciting new culture of Santa Clara baseball
- Get others to do the same
I hope to see you at Schott Stadium this spring. Santa Clara baseball matters, and the game is fun again!
Assistant Athletic Director