Mike Stawski turned a struggling Spalding team into a consistent winner in his first stint as a head coach, and then spent the last four seasons building Concordia-Chicago into a national championship contender.
In other words, he’s batting 1.000 — 2-for-2 when using his special recipe to rebuild programs.
“I wish I had a secret formula. I’d write a book and sell a million copies,” Stawksi said Tuesday.
OK. So he doesn’t have a secret formula.
However, the new Mary Hardin-Baylor baseball coach does possess a firm belief in what it takes to build a perennial winner, and he isn’t willing to cut corners in the process.
“It’s all about setting standards for players,” he said. “At those first two places, we created standards for guys and didn’t let them achieve anything less than that. People like to think it’s all about technical stuff on the field, but it’s the off-the-field culture of getting guys doing things the right way from the time they wake up until they to go to bed.
“The hardest part is to get players to buy into the culture of the program.”
It’s tough to argue with his results.
He took over a Spalding program that had won a handful of games the year before his arrival and turned the Golden Eagles into a team that posted 82 victories in his three seasons there, including a 32-11 mark in his final year.
During his four-year stint at Concordia-Chicago, the Cougars were 150-51 — including 42-10 this season, with a 24-game winning streak and an eight-week stretch atop the national poll — and made their first two trips to the NCAA Division III World Series in 2017 and 2018.
Stawski has done nothing but win as a head coach, but he says victories aren’t the focal point.
“We take winning out of the equation,” he said. “We are very process-oriented. We worry about how we do things, not the outcome of what we did. If you prepare and do things the right way, the outcomes you want will happen.”
“It’s a player-first program. We’re going to have a really fun, aggressive type of baseball team, learning to be good people and good players. Players will feel very valued and feel like they have a role on the team, no matter what it might be.”
He takes over for Ben Shipp — who retired after 34 years with the UMHB athletic department — and inherits a Crusaders program that was 73-123 over the past five seasons.
Improvement will certainly be expected, but Stawski seems undaunted by the task at hand or the work it will take to accomplish it.
“UMHB is a sleeping giant,” he said. “They have the right people in the athletic department and in administration, and the baseball program will take off. The school’s other sports do well, so there’s no reason baseball can’t.
“To move my family, we knew it was going to take the perfect storm for this to happen. Then we got to UMHB and were floored. We were very, very impressed with everything about the university. When we got on the plane to come back (to Chicago), we all knew what was going to happen.”