Archive for February 19th, 2009

Northern Sun Coach Survey – Kyle Poock

Winona State

This is my 7th entry in my series of questionnaire responses I received from coaches in the Northern Sun Conference.

Kyle Poock is entering his 7th season as head coach for the Winona State Warriors, where he also served as assistant coach for 9 seasons prior to that.  He has guided the Warriors to 5 straight winning seasons as well as 5 consecutive appearances in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) postseason tournament.  He was named the Northern Sun Coach of the Year for his efforts in 2004 and helped lead Winona State to an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2007.  He will try to make it 6 straight winning seasons in 2009 as his squad is picked to finish 4th in the NSIC preseason coaches poll.  His team kicks off their season this weekend by traveling to Warrensburg, MO for games against #26 ranked Nebraska – Omaha and #18 ranked Central Missouri.  Kyle Poock Bio

1. In what area(s) are you looking for your team to make the biggest improvement over 2008?

We do not usually look to improve on last year’s team.  Our focus is to become the best team possible this year determined by the talent and strengths of this year’s squad. 

2. What newcomers to your team look like they will make the biggest impact?

We have several red-shirt freshman pitchers, John Wenker and Kodey Simon, who we expect to pick up significant innings for us.  Also two true freshman, Zack Rickaway and Tony Mueller,  should get playing time as well.

3. What’s your philosophy regarding recruiting out of high school vs. college transfers?

At WSU we like the high school athlete as someone we can work with throughout their college career both athletically and academically. 

4. What Northern Sun team do you consider to be your schools biggest rival?

Wayne State and Coach John Manganaro.

5. Who has been the biggest influence on your coaching philosophy and/or career?

My biggest influence on my coaching career has been my Dad followed closely by Legendary Coach Gary Grob who I was fortunate to play for and replace as the coach here at WSU.

The Northern Sun Baseball Blog would like to thank Kyle Poock for taking time out of his schedule to answer these questions.

Northern Sun – Winter Games

Snowy Field

One thing that every Northern Sun Conference baseball team has to deal with is how to play baseball games when the college baseball season starts on February 1st and your home field might not be available until late March or early April (if then).  This blog has written earlier about how many teams are using the Metrodome in Minneapolis in order to get in games – Northern Sun Teams Fill Metrodome

While that is one option, the primary way that teams deal with the weather is to head south.  This poses its own set of challenges as there’s no guarantee of playable weather in the closest locations as we saw this past weekend for Upper Iowa – Upper Iowa Games Colorado Trip Canceled

The other issue is that these trips cost a lot of money.  A large number of these trips are planned to places like Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas so that teams can take busses instead of flying.  That means 10+ hour bus rides but it does save some money for these non-revenue sports that cost their schools a lot of money to maintain.  In addition to bus trips, many of the schools do like to schedule a spring trip to a warm destination like Florida & Arizona.  This option almost guarantees a large number of games but also forces head coaches to seek out funding for the trips.  In many cases the players are asked to participate in on-campus activities, like working at off-season sporting events to raise money, or the programs hold special fund raisers – Crookston Spaghetti Dinner

The upside is that it allows these northern schools to schedule 50+ games during the season and spread out games across a more reasonable schedule.  Here is a chart showing where each of the teams in the Northern Sun Conference will be traveling to this winter/spring –


As you can see, all but 4 of these teams will be taking what most would consider a “Spring Trip” to either Florida, Phoenix or Georgia.  Three of the teams are going to Fort Myers, FL to play in the Gene Cusick Collegiate Classic – Gene Cusick Classic Info.  Because there really aren’t that many other programs traveling during that time period, what ends up happening is that the teams end up playing each other in non-conference games.  For example, Minnesota Duluth and Southwest Minnesota State have 4 games against each other in Fort Myers.

With the current economic climate in this country one wonders if college baseball coaches will soon be making decisions about having to cut back on some of these types of trips or institute even more fund raising efforts in order to keep these types of schedules alive in the future.

Edit – After posting this article this morning I came across this timely piece in the LA Times that discusses how the economic downturn has teams in Division 1 college baseball considering changes to how they schedule in the future – Economic Downturn Could Lead to Tightening Belts

Daily Posts

February 2009