Ryan Goodwin begins first season as head baseball coach


Story by Chad Mullen, Writer

In his first year as the head coach of the Baker University baseball team, Ryan Goodwin is happy to be back in the area that he calls home.

“Growing up in the area was a big part of the decision for me,” Goodwin said.

After playing his high school ball at Lawrence High School, Goodwin attended Highland Community College, about 75 miles north of Lawrence, before transferring to the University of South Dakota, where as a closer, he holds the career record for saves.

Following his college career, Goodwin immediately went into coaching, serving first as an assistant at Lawrence Free State High School, then traveling the country as an assistant for six different colleges, from junior college all the way up to the NCAA Division I level at Jackson State University.

He received his first head coaching opportunity in 2014 at Wiley College in Marshall, Texas. It was at Wiley where Goodwin learned more about Baker.

“We played Baker each of my two seasons down there, and I saw that they had a lot of talent,” Goodwin said. “When I had an opportunity to take that job and be close to home, I jumped at it.”

Upon his arrival, Goodwin was impressed with the amount of on-campus support he received.

“I immediately got really good vibes from the people here,” Goodwin said. “We don’t have all of the resources in the world, or all of the bells and whistles, but the administration is very accommodating, and that makes for a great work environment.”

He was also pleased with the character of his players, both on the field during a 3-7 stretch to start the season, and off the field.

“In college sports in general, you’ll usually have some guys that have some off-the-field issues,” Goodwin said. “But no one is getting into trouble here, and that is always a good thing.”

Regarding matters on the field, he noted that the program continues to trend upward.

“We know we are close. We just have to learn from our losses and find the positives from these games in order to take something constructive from them,” Goodwin said.

One thing Goodwin knows he must work on is establishing a winning atmosphere at Baker, where the Wildcats finished 2015 with a 17-33 record, going 6-20 in conference play.

“I believe in the talent this team has,” Goodwin said. “We just need to learn how to win. I believe it is all in your mindset, and I purposely scheduled tough teams in the non-conference to show these guys what teams with that winning mentality look like, and I think easing yourself into the conference schedule can lead to poor results.”

Along with his win now mentality, Goodwin is also adamant on adjusting to his players, rather than having the players adjust to his coaching style.

“I love this group of guys,” Goodwin said. “We are senior dominant, and that can be a challenge for a new coach coming in, but I think of it as a positive, because I am not just trying to groom my guys.”

Senior Cort Brennan appreciates what his new head coach has to offer.

“He brings a new energy to the program,” Brennan said. “Last year, it wasn’t always the most positive atmosphere, and as a team we were sort of going through the motions. (Goodwin) is a real player’s coach.”

Translating that energy into victories would make his return to Kansas even sweeter.

“I am glad to be back near my family and friends,” Goodwin said. “I am also excited about what is in store for this program. Once we get a taste of winning, just a couple of victories or take a couple of series in a row, I think that will create a snowball effect and create an atmosphere of winning at Baker.”