A year ago, Ryan Schmalz decided to put his name in the hat and applied to be Trevecca Nazarene’s next baseball coach.
He didn’t get the job, but as he embarked on another season as a Division II assistant coach at Lincoln Memorial in east Tennessee, he began to think differently.
“When you put yourself out there to become a head coach you kind of are forced to examine yourself a little bit,” Schmalz said a year later. “You think through things like, ‘How would I do this? What would I do in this situation?’ Over the course of the past year, I’ve put myself even more so in my mind as a head coach. I think going through the process last year has really prepared me.”
This time, Trevecca athletics director Mark Elliott agreed. On Wednesday night, Elliott named Schmalz the Trojans’ new baseball coach. Schmalz takes over for Mike Lord, who cited family health issues for his resignation in May after just one season. The 32-year-old leads the Trojans into their second year of transition from the NAIA to NCAA Division II. Trevecca will compete in the newly founded Great Midwest Athletic Conference this upcoming season and hopes to be a full-fledged Division II by 2014-15.
“Just getting my first head coaching job is phenomenal,” Schmalz said in a video interview released by Trevecca. “It’s a dream come true, especially at a place like Trevecca. Trevecca is a great place, a tremendous opportunity. There is a lot of enthusiasm and momentum.”
Schmalz is no stranger to Trevecca baseball. He played for former Trevecca coach Elliott Johnson at Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) University. Johnson was Trevecca’s second head coach and won 330 games in 11 years with the Trojans. Schmalz, a former third baseman and college teammate of Tampa Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist, helped Johnson and Olivet reach the program’s first two NAIA World Series in 2002 and 2003.
Schmalz’s first job out was as a Division I assistant for Morehead State in the Ohio Valley Conference. In 2005, he headed to Lincoln Memorial to serve as the top assistant for Jeff Sziksai. In 2012, the Railsplitters went 21-28 and finished seventh in the South Atlantic Conference.
“I think there is no reason why Trevecca can’t be a national powerhouse in the NCAA and Division II,” Schmalz said. “My vision is GMAC championships, playing in the Division II World Series and winning national championships. Off the field I have a big vision as well, in developing the person academically, emotionally and spiritually.”