Tag Archives: Coach Cameron

New Coach Brings New Strategies To MSJ Baseball

Baseball at Mount St. Joe is an institution, with a long and storied history. Over the past few years, the record for the varsity squad has not been as good as expected, but things might be turning around this coming season. Last year, the varsity squad finished just shy of the playoffs, ending with a deceptively solid 11-16 record. Although they ended with this losing record, there were some very well played games, including their defeat of Spalding in a tight 3-2 contest. Coach Rod Cameron was the head coach of the baseball program until this season, having a very productive and successful run as an assistant coach, and also as head coach. While he may not have won a championship as a head coach, he set up a team with great players and strategies to get the job done correctly. The man that was chosen to follow Coach Cameron, Coach Phil Kraska, has been coaching at the Mount for 10 years, assisting the varsity team as well as previously serving as the head coach for the JV team. Before that, Kraska won an MIAA Championship as a player as part of the 2004 Varsity team.

Coach Kraska
Coach Phil Kraska, the new head coach for Mount Saint Joseph Baseball.

Coach Kraska has big plans for this season. He hopes to turn the program around and bring it back to its winning ways through rigorous offseason training and dedication. “We are doing a strength training program, trying to get our athletes stronger,” said Coach Kraska, “so that when we get to tryouts in February everyone is in shape and ready for the season.” Another issue that has plagued the Gaels are injuries, and this is something that Kraska hopes will be reduced, if not eliminated, through this offseason training.

Coach Kraska is very well-suited for the job as head coach, because he played for three fantastic coaches while attending the Mount. “I’ve played for Mr. Norton, Mr. Harris, and Mr. Cameron. They helped me while I was a player, and have helped me form my own coaching style,” he reminisced. All three of these coaches did great things at Mount Saint Joseph, and there is much to look forward to if Coach Kraska will be modeling his style from the experiences he had with his former coaches.

Matt McManus, the southpaw ace for the JV team, pitching in the semifinal game against Calvert Hall. The Mount would lose this game 10-9. Photo by Nick DeLauro ’20

Another positive for the team this year is the incoming talent. Many of the rising juniors hope to make a great difference to the team. One of the names to watch out for is Matt McManus, who was dominant on the mound last season for JV, even throwing a no-hitter against McDonogh. Another player that could drastically change the game is Michael Marsh, a clutch player at the plate who led the JV team in home runs last season. Many of the players returning to the varsity team, including Justin Looney and Connor Rudel, will be the driving force of the offense.

When asked if there were any schools in particular that he would be looking forward to facing, Coach Kraska said, “Everyone! People will have a picture of what we were last year in their minds. We are going to come out and take them by surprise.” This is another great insight into how this team will be playing this year. With a new coach and new talent, there is a definite excitement for the upcoming season.

There are many new elements in the baseball program this season, and they could turn out to be extremely beneficial. Although the team did not perform to their full potential last year, there is much room to grow and a whole lot to build off of. Coach Cameron left Coach Kraska in a very good place to start for next year. Coach Kraska, as well as the whole school, hopes all of the offseason work and preparation translates into success on the field when March rolls around.

Coach Kraska follows in the footsteps of his former MSJ Varsity Coach, Dave Norton, shown here with the team at Camden Yards. Photo Credit Brown Media

Ben McElroy is a Junior and a member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

With Time Comes Change: Mr. Rod Cameron is Set for His First Season as Head Baseball Coach

Mr. Rod Cameron, Mount Saint Joe’s new Varsity Baseball Coach, along with Orioles Hall of Fame 3B Brooks Robinson. After a lengthy search, Mr. Cameron was chosen to succeed Mr. Jody Harris as the Mount’s head baseball coach. Image courtesy of the Maryland State Association of Baseball Coaches.

My brother Brad and I sat down with Coach Cameron, the newly appointed head coach of the varsity baseball team, and the third head coach in the last five years. During our interview with Coach Cameron we discussed the many changes to the field, additions to the coaching staff, and a little taste of what is to come in the spring of 2017.

We started our conversation by asking him to walk through the renovations made to the field over the last four years. Compared to my freshman year (Jake Howell,  2013-2014 school year), the baseball field features a relocated bullpen due to the Smith Center renovation, new covers and banners on the outfield fence, additional fencing that leads down the right field line, a new backstop and scoreboard, and the newest addition being the dugouts. As a baseball player who is impacted by the renovations each year, it has been nice to see how far the field has come from what it was my freshman year through now. With Plevyak Field and the Smith Center, it is nice to see the baseball field come together to match the quality of our other sporting facilities.

The view of the old MSJ baseball field, prior to the renovations to the backstop and dugouts.

Since baseball is still several months away, we asked Coach Cameron if he was going to make any changes to the winter workout program we had in place. “I think the first step is that from the time we stop [Fall Baseball] now early November through the end of the year will be a rest period,” Coach Cameron said. Any baseball player knows this is a big difference from years past. In off-seasons past, we would go from fall ball right into the weight room then right to tryouts. Coach Cameron wants to stress the importance of shutting down for a little bit to give your body time to recharge and refresh.

We then moved to address the announcement that he would be taking over at the helm for the varsity team. After Coach Harris’ departure, the position was open to the public, and there was a lot of interest. We asked him what he thought set him apart from other candidates. Coach Cameron credited his experience as the thing that he believed made him the most attractive candidate over other applicants. “Of all the talented people that interviewed for the job, I was the one with the one with the most experience, the one who was the most familiar with the program.” He also credited the connections that he had to the baseball community outside of Mount Saint Joe. An example of his connections to the community would be our newest addition to the JV team, Coach Ian Hendricks. “[Coach Hendricks] spent a number of years as a coach at McDonough. He is also the son of Elrod Hendricks who was with the Orioles for a decade,” Coach Cameron said of the legacy of the Hendricks family in Baltimore. But the additions do not stop there, Coach Cameron said that he plans to extend the coaching staff even more, adding coaches that will assist with every team, not just one. He plans to bring aboard Mr. Grebe to specialize with all the catchers. Having coaches that work with a specific position is something that I believe can really improve the team’s overall defense.

Renovations to the baseball field include a new backstop and new dugouts. Photo Credit: Brad Howell ’19

After discussing the changes to the coaching staff, we then moved on to a small preview of the upcoming season. When asked about the impact of the experience the senior class got as juniors last school year, Cameron responded by saying how the experience has the potential to make a tremendous impact for the outlook of the spring season, “It’ll be their [the 13 returning players] jobs to instill that confidence while the new guys are going through that period of adjustment [from JV competition to Varsity].”

It is not hard to see that Coach Cameron pours his heart and soul into this game, and I am looking forward to seeing all his hard work in the preseason translate into success when the time for tryouts comes in February.

A panoramic of the new renovations at the MSJ baseball field. Photo Credit: Brad Howell ’19