Release courtesy of Concordia Chicago athletics communications
RIVER FOREST, Ill. --- Kolin Conner has been appointed to the position of head baseball coach at Concordia University Chicago. Conner will assume the responsibilities previously held by Mike Stawski, who coached the Cougars the last four seasons.
Conner has served as the head assistant coach/hitting coach, worked with the catchers, helped with the baseball team's and the school's strength and conditioning program and lastly was the recruiting coordinator since August 2015. He was honored by Baseball America and the American Baseball Coaches Association in 2018 with the Division III Assistant Coach of the Year award. Now in the head coach's position, he says that "My family and I are as excited as it gets for this opportunity to lead the program. This team's progress is something that has been built for a long time, and I am looking forward to continuing the success that this program exhibits."
In his time at Concordia-Chicago, the Cougars have continued a string of six consecutive Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference Position Player of the Year awards. Conner has been instrumental in the development of Joe Silva (2016, 2018), Bryan VanDuser (2017) and Connor Brandon (2019). Those three players have also earned regional honors during Conner's tenure, along with Andrew Massey, Mitch Wilson, Brent Spohr, Jose Mercado and Brody Mariotti. As a team over the last four years, the Cougars have a batting average of .324, an on-base percentage of .407 and a slugging percentage of .464. In addition to that slash line, CUC averaged 8.3 runs per game in the 2019 season. The Cougars' offense has been ranked in the top 10 nationally in 10 separate categories over the last four years.
Conner is an alumnus of St. Joseph's College in Rensselaer, Indiana. He was a catcher for the Division II Pumas during the 2012 and 2013 seasons, hitting .302 in 90 career games with seven homers, 65 RBIs and a .471 slugging percentage. Conner's post-season awards included a first-team All-Great Lakes Valley Conference honor and a second-team Daktronics All-Region honor, both in 2013. Following college, Conner played two seasons professionally for the Joliet Slammers and Evansville Otters.
Conner returned to St. Joseph's in 2014 as a volunteer assistant coach under Rick O'Dette, a man Conner considers "an amazing coach and mentor. He is a guy who has been in my corner since the day I walked on Saint Joe's campus." Conner credits O'Dette for fueling his passion for coaching. In addition to O'Dette, Conner is also grateful to Mike Stawski for "help(ing) me to get to this moment. The responsibilities that Mike gave me day in and day out these last four years have been the best possible preparation for being a head coach. Stawski is someone who has helped me grow every day, and I am forever grateful for the opportunity he gave me when I was 24 years old. He will be a mentor I have in this game for the rest of my life."
As the Cougars head into the 2020 season and beyond, Conner realizes that expectations for the program will remain high. "We have drawn a lot of attention in recent years, and it's a fact of life now that not only will the eyes of Concordia be upon us, but the eyes of a lot of baseball fans across the country as well. The eyes that are on us daily allow us to really enforce a 'practice what you preach' mentality here with the baseball program. The beauty of coaching is that we get the opportunity to teach these young men how to handle this journey that they are about to take. We look forward to the expectations that have been placed on us. We just simply have to remember to trust the process."