With baseball season still a few months out, the team is preparing for its upcoming season under new, unusual management. After the resignation of interim baseball head coach Derek Dunaway, UMHB baseball looked within for different leadership.
Former Vice President of Athletics for 18 years, Ben Shipp, had no intention of returning to coaching. However, in the process of finding a coach to pick up where Dunaway left off, something gripped him and didn’t let go.
“Once I got in, and I was trying to help recruit and keep in touch with the players, then I kind of got the fever. I knew then that it wasn’t out of my blood,” Shipp said.
He served as head coach for Cru baseball for 10 years between 1986 and 1996 in which he introduced the program into NCAA Division III. Currently the winningest coach in university history, Shipp returns to the diamond.
Only this time he returns with his two sons, Kyle and Nathan, to rally Cru baseball to an ASC Championship.
Taking the helm of the baseball team meant several changes in the athletics administration. As Shipp stepped down from VP of Athletics, former Associate Director of Athletics Randy Mann moved in. Now occupying Mann’s old office is Darla Kirby, former head women’s golf coach.
With all bases covered in administration, Shipp was able to return to what he was doing when his sons were just learning to throw a baseball. Two college careers in baseball later, Kyle and Nathan join their dad at work.
Kyle, 27, returns to his alma mater after spending five years down Interstate 35 at Southwestern in Georgetown where he was assistant baseball coach for the Pirates.
While at UMHB, Kyle was a four-year letterman as the starting catcher for the Cru and graduated in 2007 with a bachelor’s in economics. He was a decorated player, recognized thrice as ASC Academic All-Conference, UMHB Male Senior Athlete of the Year for 2007 and recipient of the Fred Jacoby award presented by the ASC.
Nathan is 23 years old and a 2012 graduate of Southwestern with a degree in kinesiology. He was also a four-year letterman as an infielder; twice All-SCAC Honorable Mention, and he earned a spot on SCAC Student-Athlete Academic Honor Roll.
Nathan grew up around UMHB but never played for or attended the school. Working at the university has been a great experience for him.
“There is like a buzz around this. There is … real support. You know, real excitement about athletics here,” he said. “This is a neat place, and it is really an honor to be able to work here.”
The timing could not have been more perfect; Nathan had just graduated from SU and was looking for a job and Kyle lives in Belton and his commute to Georgetown was getting to be a bit much. So he stepped away from Southwestern University.
“I Just stepped out in faith,” Kyle said. “It was just a couple weeks before everything was really put out there that I knew that there was an opportunity to work for dad.”
Coaching with his sons has been a dream come true for Ben. However, that’s not to say they won’t butt heads any given inning.
“The bad thing is that all three of us are very strong willed, so when we have discussions, they are energetic,” Ben said. “But I think that we, to this point, have come out with the best answers.”
Crusader baseball could very well join the several teams to make playoffs this year with such a well-rounded coaching staff.
Kyle works with the pitchers and catchers, and Nathan takes the infielders. They both share the hitters and manage strength and conditioning as well as injury prevention.
Ben works directly with the outfielders and oversees his sons.
The vast range of experience among the two brothers, sons and their dad has the potential to bring out the best in this year’s baseball team.