After the sudden retirement of baseball head coach Chris Ebright during the middle of last year, the SVSU baseball program has hired Steve Jaksa to fill the position going forward.
Though the program was able to close out the season with various internal adjustments, prospects for a permanent head coach remained unclear.
On Aug. 15, SVSU Athletics managed to bring stability back to the organization with the official hiring of Jaksa.
Jaksa, a former pitcher and head coach at Central Michigan University, is about as battle-tested of an option that college baseball has to offer.
Whether it be his multiple MAC titles, consistent winning record, success coaching high school in the Saginaw area or the litany of prospects who blossomed into major leaguers under his watch, Jaksa has proven time and time again to be a lightning rod for winning cultures.
After finishing out his 16th year as head coach of the Chippewas baseball program, the decorated alumnus chose to hang it up and retire. However, this break was short lived, as he soon realized he had much more to give to the game.
“I was only out of it for two months,” Jaksa said at a recent press conference on Aug. 15. “But it felt like 20 years.”
Although there was initially no “perfect fit,” Jaksa was intrigued after receiving a call from SVSU Athletic Director John Decker pertaining to the vacant coaching position.
Following a scheduled interview, both parties firmly believed that they had found their match.
“Steve really personifies that passion we’re looking for,” Decker said at the same press conferences. “He’s the next leader of our baseball program.”
Jaksa later echoed that sentiment.
“It’s the only job I applied for,” Jaksa said. “Other places were available, but this place seemed to fit for me. The bases are 90 feet everywhere, then it’s going to be, what do you have to offer? I think we have a great university academically. It’s a beautiful campus, our facilities are great and that will help us attract people.”
The past few years of Cardinals baseball have been plagued with growing pains that are all too common for younger teams, such as incremental player development, drawn out losing streaks, inconsistent interleague play and more.
Despite consecutive 20-28 seasons, the ballclub appears hopeful their new acquisition will be able to institute a culture that propels the team forward.
“Jaksa has been successful in every phase of his career,” Decker said. “We think we have hit a home run with Steve.”