St. Thomas baseball coach Chris Olean is proof that the best way to maintain a fresh coaching perspective is to stay involved in the game.
This summer, Olean was a pitcher for the Mieseville Mudhens, a Minnesota amateur baseball team. He has played for the Mudhens the past six years and pitched for the team during the 2007 state tournament. That year, the Mudhens went on to win the state championship.
Before that, after playing baseball for St. Thomas all four years, Olean was drafted by Milwaukee. He went on to play “for about two-and-a-half seasons” in the minor leagues.
“Then I decided to retire, came back and started playing amateur baseball,” Olean said.
Olean became coach of the St. Thomas baseball team last year after holding an assistant position for nine years. Olean helped lead the Tommies to a 301-98 record and to the MIAC regular-season or post-season title in each of the last nine seasons. The team also reached the NCAA playoffs eight of the last nine seasons.
Olean used his experience on the Mieseville Mudhens to prepare for the St. Thomas coaching position, especially in terms of team management and relating to the players.
“I’m not 30 years removed from pitching,” he said. “I’m still pitching, so I have a pretty good idea of how to communicate that stuff. It is nice to still get out there and do some things, more to help me relate to the game and what the players are going through.”
Olean’s role as pitcher for the Mudhens also taught him a lot about team dynamics, he said.
“You can kind of see just how much playing with a guy who maybe isn’t a good team member affects the rest of the team,” Olean said. “Even though he might be able to perform on the field, he may do things off the field that are hurtful to the team.
“That’s given me perspective as far as understanding that there is more to it than just what happens between the lines. You have to be a good person overall and a teammate that’s there for everybody else and not just there for yourself.”
Rebecca Omastiak can be reached at email@example.com.