coach Jim Schlossnagle has settled in for a long stay -- and a few championships
-- in Fort Worth.
me be clear about something," TCU's new baseball coach says to start his
first media interview of the winter, his sky-blue eyes full of conviction.
"This is not my baseball program. It's TCU's program."
For Jim Schlossnagle,
this is a personal philosophy. There is no picture of him on the media
guide cover. There are no "Schlossnagle Era" banners hanging at Lupton
Stadium. Instead, his first six months in Fort Worth revolved around tailgate
parties during football season for fans to get to know the players, and
an open invitation to former Frog players and coaches to attend practice
and an alumni game. While on the recruiting trail, Schlossnagle sold prospective
players on Fort Worth, the year-old ballpark and a private school education,
not playing for him.
belongs to all the former players and coaches," he says. "My job is just
to oversee it – hopefully for a long time." The Frogs are lucky to have
him. Schlossnagle comes to Fort Worth as one of college baseball's rising
young star coaches. While Schlossnagle is only 33, this is his 12th season
as a coach, 10 of them in Division I. And everywhere he's been, programs
seem to make the post-season, a feat TCU hasn't accomplished in a decade.
his two years as head coach at UNLV produced a 74-47 record, including
last season's school-record 47 wins and the program's first NCAA appearance
in seven years. He also was named Mountain West Coach of the Year.
he guided Tulane to six Regional appearances and one College World Series
in eight years as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator. Before
that, he served as pitching coach at Clemson in 1993, when the Tigers
made the Regionals, and later saw seven of its pitchers taken in the Major
Get the picture?
But it never
would have happened if not for his mentor and Elon (N.C.) College coach
Rick Jones, who talked him out of his life-long dream of becoming the
next Rick Reilly of Sports Illustrated.
"I was just
an average pitcher at an NAIA school, and only played my freshman year,"
Schlossnagle admits. "I wasn't going to play pro ball and I knew it. One
day, I had a conversation with Coach Jones and he told me he thought I'd
make a good coach. If I started now, it could be like an internship, and
I'd be that much further ahead of everyone else. The next day I changed
my major and began the next season as an assistant coach. It was by far
the best decision I ever made."
And now here
he is at TCU, where he intends to stay for a while. "This is our third
move in less than three years," he says. "My wife told me the other day,
'We're not moving. I don't care if it's the Yankees, we're still not moving.'
And that's alright with me."
TCU was on Schlossnagle's mind long before the Frogs were looking for
a new coach. "I was at my wife's family's home in Mesquite for Thanksgiving
in 2002, and I saw in the paper that TCU was having a grand opening for
the stadium," he remembers. "I didn't know anybody in Fort Worth, and
I wasn't coming to meet anybody, so I felt safe coming just like any other
tourist. I didn't want anybody to think I was coming after someone's job.
So I took my son and put a hat on and toured the stadium just like everybody
else, thinking maybe one day."
months later, it became his office.
of Lupton that day? "It was one of the top 10 or 15 college ballparks
in the country then and it is now," he says. "Facilities represent commitment
in my mind. When you come up Berry Street and come over the horizon and
you see this stadium, it's so picturesque. You're first thought is, 'Wow.
These people are serious about college baseball.' Then it was a matter
of having enough success to get to a place like this."
But why TCU?
"My last couple of years at Tulane, as we started to have success, I began
to look around the country for schools similar to Tulane – outstanding
academics, private school, in the South, in a baseball hotbed, with a
commitment to baseball," he says. "There aren't many of them. TCU was
found a place that combines his professional and personal goals.
few places, few times in any coach's life, regardless of the sport, where
you actually find a place that is as committed as you are to winning at
the highest level, and personally, you're in a place that your children
can grow up with some extended family."
Kami, son Jackson and daughter Kathleen Grace already feeling at home,
Schlossnagle is set on accomplishing that other goal.
wife and family and my faith, there's nothing more important to me than
seeing TCU play in the College World Series," he says. "And I work on
that on a daily basis. I've said this before: I don't hunt. I don't play
golf. I don't fish. I'm a pretty boring guy when it comes to hobbies.
This is a lifestyle. Not a job. I wake up on a daily basis and say, 'What
do I need to do today to get us closer to Omaha?'"
than ever before.
on this story at email@example.com.
Basketball. The men made a strong
push to finish the year with a .500 record in Conference USA play and
clinched a spot in the C-USA Tournament, both firsts in the Coach Neil
Dougherty era. Meanwhile, Coach Jeff Mittie's Lady Frogs soared to as
high as No. 13 in the rankings, reached the 20-win mark for the fourth
consecutive year and were set for a fourth straight trip to the NCAA Tournament.
But both programs have been waiting excitedly
all winter for something else -- the opening of the Ed and Rae Schollmaier
Basketball Practice Complex. The 22,000-square-foot facility will feature
two practice courts, a weight room, meeting rooms and offices for both
Both head coaches say the complex will
assist in recruiting and show the university's growing commitment to basketball.
"With this type of building, there will
always be players working out and practicing," says Dougherty, who is
already calling the facility Gym 7-11 because it will be open 24 hours
a day. "Recruits can see what kind of attention they will be getting at
Adds Mittie, "Having our own space will
be a major benefit. Right now, both programs have to schedule practices
around one another. This facility will give us optimum use of time and
The facility opens in April.
Swimming & Diving. It was another
banner year for the H2O Frogs. The women finished up their season with
the best mark in school history at 12-1. The men boasted a record of 9-2.
To top off the great seasons, both teams swept the C-USA Championships,
garnering the first-ever title for the women and third straight for the
men. Junior Craig Chapman earned men's Swimmer of the Meet award, while
head coach Richard Sybesma was chosen the meet's top coach.
Women's soccer. The Lady Frogs finished
the season with a 9-8-2 record, a six game improvement from 2002. The
turnaround was tied for fifth best in the country. "Obviously this shows
improvement in all aspects of the program, but we feel like we've just
begun," says head coach David Rubinson.
Track. The women's squad captured
its first-ever track & field conference title in February at the Conference
USA Indoor Championship. The women had never finished higher than third
as a team in either indoor or outdoor seasons. This season, however, was
marked by new school records. At the Razorback Invitational in February,
Jerry Harris posted an all-time TCU best 45.52 in the 400 meters. Jackson
Langat ran a 1:46.09 in the seeded section of the 800 meters, also a new
standard for the Frogs. The quartet of Larissa Bakasa, Donita Harmon,
Deborah Jones and Marquita Davis lowered a school record the squad set
earlier in the season in the 4x400 meter relay with a time of 3:39.56.
Mary Kinyanjui set a new TCU mark in the 3,000 meters with a time of 9:39.09.
Tennis. Already considered one of
the premier college tennis facilities in the nation, the Bayard H. Friedman
Tennis Center dedicated a new team building in January. Located west of
the indoor tennis courts, the 4,000-square-foot building includes varsity
locker rooms for both programs, a lounge area, an athletic training room,
office space and equipment storage areas. The team and coach give it rave
reviews. "With the addition of this building, we have the best tennis
facility in the country," says men's coach Joey Rivé, who, with with women's
coach Dave Borelli, presented the Friedman family with a framed plaque
of TCU Tennis Difference Makers. "As a recruiting tool, it only adds to
the already rich tradition we've established. It also provides a wonderful
place for our current squad members to build team unity."