The 2019 ABCA/Baseball America
Assistant Coaches of the Year have been announced in all 11 divisions: NCAA Div. I, NCAA Div. II, III, NAIA, NJCAA Div. I, II & III and High School Div. I, II and III. The 11 honorees will be recognized at the 76th annual ABCA Convention in Nashville, Tennessee on Friday, Jan. 3, 2020 in the clinic hall!
The ABCA and Baseball America
began honoring a National Assistant Coach of the Year annually in 1999.
Coaching expertise, recruiting, loyalty to the program and respect for the players and the game are some of the many criteria examined when reviewing the candidates for the award.
NCAA Div. I: Nick Schnabel, University of Michigan
Nick Schnabel completed his seventh season as an assistant coach for the University of Michigan baseball program in 2019 where he serves as recruiting coordinator as well as working with the Wolverine infielders and hitters. Schnabel helped guide the Wolverines to their eighth NCAA College World Series appearance and the program’s third-ever trip to the CWS Finals, where the Maize and Blue finished as the national runner-up. Michigan hitters led the Big Ten Conference in batting average, on-base percentage, stolen bases, runs scored, doubles, and walks in 2019.
NCAA Div. II: Charlie Spano, Mercyhurst University (Pa.)
Charlie Spano has spent 11 seasons at Mercyhurst, serving as the Lakers' third base coach and recruiting coordinator. Spano, who also works closely with the infielders and team's base running, has coached 11 all-conference infielders and helped the Lakers to three NCAA Div. II World Series appearances, eight NCAA Tournament appearances and the 2011 PSAC tournament title.
NCAA Div. III: Geoff Fox, Chapman University (Calif.)
Geoff Fox joined the Chapman coaching staff in 2014 after spending eight seasons as an assistant at Saddleback College. During his time at Chapman, the Panthers won nearly 70 percent of their games and captured SCIAC Tournament titles in 2018 and 2019. The 2019 season also culminated in the program’s second NCAA Div. III national championship.
NAIA: Mitch Schmidt, Bellevue University (Neb.)
In 13 seasons at Bellevue University, Mitch Schmidt has helped the Bruins to 10 seasons of 40 wins or more, including three 50-win seasons. He has helped guide the program to seven conference tournament titles and four Avista-NAIA World Series appearances, most recently in 2019.
NJCAA Div. I: Tyler Herbst, Iowa Western Community College
The 2019 season marked Tyler Herbst’s fifth season at Iowa Western Community College. During his tenure at Iowa Western, the Reivers have averaged over 50 wins per season and made four NJCAA World Series appearances. The Reivers have also collected five consecutive ICCAC regular season conference championships and four NJCAA regional and district titles.
NJCAA Div. II: Trevor Burmeister, Madison College (Wis.)
Trevor Burmeister returned to the Madison College WolfPack, this time as a coach, prior to the 2017 season. Burmeister has helped the WolfPack to back-to-back NJCAA Div. II World Series appearances in 2018 and 2019, as well as three NJCAA Regional Tournament appearances. During Burmeister’s first three seasons on staff, the WolfPack have averaged 38 wins per season.
NJCAA Div. III: Lane Potter, Herkimer College (N.Y.)
Lane Potter joined the Herkimer College coaching staff in the spring of 2016 and serves as the hitting coach and recruiting coordinator for the Generals. In each of the last two seasons, the Generals captured NJCAA Regional Tournament titles and advanced to the NJCAA Div. III World Series.
Pacific Association: Eric Solberg, Fresno City College (Calif.)
Eric Solberg has guided Fresno City College pitching staffs for over 20 years and has coached four pitchers who have gone on to reach the major leagues. Solberg’s 2019 staff finished the season with a 3.14 team ERA and 463 strikeouts as the Rams advanced the CCCAA NorCal Super Regionals.
High School Div. I: Steve Holleman, Owasso High School (Okla.)
Steve Holleman joined the Owasso High School coaching staff in 1979. In over 40 years with the program, he has been a part of over 1000 wins and 11 state championships. He has numerous coaching awards to his credit and is a member of the Oklahoma Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame and the Owasso Athletic Hall of Fame.
High School Div. II: Derek Leppert, Olathe West High School (Kan.)
Derek Leppert has served as an assistant baseball coach at Olathe West High School for the past two seasons and was previously on the staff at Blue Valley Southwest High School. While at Blue Valley, Leppert helped guide the program to three-straight Oklahoma State Tournament appearances from 2013-2015, finishing runner-up in 2014 and capturing the 5A state title in 2015.
High School Div. III: Jim Canonica, Maple Hill High School (N.Y.)
Jim Canonica is a longtime assistant and former head coach at Maple Hill High School, a program he’s been involved with for 52 seasons. During his time as head coach, Canonica racked up 243 career wins and had a career winning percentage of .628. Maple Hill’s Canonica Field is named in his honor.
See Also: Baseball America Assistant Coaches of the Year Release