FROM CBB NEWS SOURCE
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – University of North Florida Director of Athletics Lee Moon announced today that Raymond “Smoke” Laval will take over as the new head baseball coach for the Ospreys. Laval will replace current head baseball coach Dusty Rhodes, who announced his retirement today, effective at the end of the 2010 season.
“We’re excited to have Raymond joining the UNF family,” said UNF President John A. Delaney. “He brings a wealth of experience to the plate and we look forward to him picking up where Dusty left off, continuing to build upon a strong baseball program here at the University.”
“With the retiring of Dusty Rhodes, we here at the University of North Florida knew that we had to replace a legend and that we needed someone who could make an immediate impact on the program, and a person that Coach Rhodes would feel comfortable in turning his program over to,” stated Moon. “We felt like we needed to get a proven winner who could take this program to the next level and we feel like Coach Laval is that man.
“Smoke has achieved success at every school he has coached and guided his teams in the past to conference championships, NCAA Regional appearances and baseball’s pinnacle, the College World Series,” continued Moon. “He is a great recruiter who is familiar with the Jacksonville area and the state of Florida. Smoke has a reputation of excellence and we are happy to welcome him to the UNF family.”
Laval is a 30-year college coaching veteran with 12 years of Division I experience as a head coach, owning a career record of 451-268-1 (.627). Laval is currently a scouting advisor for the Toronto Blue Jays.
“It’s an honor to follow a coach as successful and decorated as Dusty Rhodes,” said Laval. “I’ve known Dusty for a long time and respect him as a coach and a person. I am not here to make drastic changes. Dusty laid a great foundation for UNF baseball and I am just looking to build on that foundation. I am very excited for this opportunity and want to thank Coach Moon and North Florida for this great opportunity.”
Laval served as LSU’s head baseball coach for five seasons (2002-2006). In five years at the helm of the LSU program, he guided the Tigers to two College World Series berths (2003 and 2004), two NCAA Super Regional titles, three NCAA Regional championships, one SEC title, two SEC division championships and two Top 10 finishes. Laval, the 2003 SEC Coach of the Year, finished his career at LSU with a 210-109-1 (.658) overall record and the highest winning percentage in SEC regular-season games. He coached two players to SEC Player of the Year accolades and had 23 players drafted by Major League Baseball clubs. Laval boasted a school-record 12 SEC Academic Honor Roll members in 2004 and in 2005.
He served seven seasons (1994-2000) as the head coach at the University of Louisiana-Monroe. Laval compiled a 241-159 (.603) mark as the head coach at ULM, guiding them to NCAA Regional appearances in 1995, 1999 and 2000. The 2000 club posted a 41-22 mark en route to the Southland Conference title, tying the ULM record for wins. Laval, the 1999 SLC Coach of the Year, also led ULM to the 1999 regular-season title and to the 1995 conference tournament crown. He was voted the 1995 Louisiana Coach of the Year by the Louisiana Sportswriters Association.
Laval began his coaching career in 1977 as an assistant at Jacksonville University before moving to Wolfson High School in Jacksonville as a baseball and football coach. He served as a graduate assistant at LSU in 1979 under former Tiger head coach Jack Lamabe before working two years as an assistant at Gulf Coast Community College in Panama City, Fla.
Laval served as an assistant coach at Florida for two seasons (1982-83) before returning to LSU to work under former coach Skip Bertman. Laval served as assistant coach for LSU from 1984-93 before leaving for ULM. As an assistant at LSU, he helped guide the Tigers to two NCAA titles, six College World Series appearances and five SEC Championships. He returned to LSU in 2001 as an administrative assistant and took over for the retired Bertman the next season.
Laval holds a bachelor’s degree (1977) from Jacksonville in physical education and a master’s degree (1979) from LSU in administration. The McDonald, Pa., native played two seasons at Gulf Coast Community College, where he lettered as a catcher. He completed his playing career at JU, where he led the ninth-ranked Dolphins in hitting at the 1976 NCAA South Regional.
Laval and his wife, Pam, are the parents of two children, Brandon and Jamie.
The Smoke Laval File
Full Name: Raymond Peter Laval
Birthdate: December 20, 1955, in McDonald, Pa.
Wife: Former Pam Lewis of Reserve, La.
Children: Jamie and Brandon
1973: High School Diploma, South Fayette HS (McDonald, Pa.)
1977: Bachelor’s in Physical Education, Jacksonville
1979: Master’s in Administration, LSU
1970-73: Catcher, South Fayette High School
1974-75: Catcher, Gulf Coast Community College
1976-77: Catcher, Jacksonville
1977: Assistant Coach, Jacksonville
1978: Assistant Coach, Wolfson High School (Jacksonville, Fla.)
1979: Graduate Assistant Coach, LSU
1980-81: Assistant Coach, Gulf Coast Community College
1982-83: Assistant Coach, Florida
1984-93: Assistant Coach, LSU
1994-00: Head Coach, ULM
2001: Administrative Assistant, LSU
2002-06: Head Coach, LSU
2007-Current: Scouting Advisor, Toronto Blue Jays
HEAD COACHING RECORD
Year W-L School Highlights
1994 20-33 ULM Defeated Three NCAA Tournament Teams
1995 37-20 ULM SLC Tournament Champions; NCAA Regional
1996 41-19 ULM School-Record 41 Wins; SLC Louisiana Division Champions
1997 33-21 ULM Became Fourth Coach in ULM History to Record 100 Wins
1998 33-22 ULM Led SLC in Hitting For Third Straight Season
1999 36-22 ULM SLC Champions; NCAA Regional
2000 41-22 ULM SLC Champions; NCAA Regional
2002 44-22 LSU NCAA Regional Champions
2003 45-22-1 LSU SEC Champions; College World Series
2004 46-19 LSU NCAA Regional, Super Regional; College World Series
2005 40-22 LSU SEC Western Division Champions
2006 35-24 LSU SEC Tournament Participants
COACHING HONORS & CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
1995: Louisiana Sportswriters Association Coach of the Year
1999: Southland Conference Coach of the Year
2002: Louisiana Sportswriters Association Coach of the Year
2003: SEC Coach of the Year
2003: Louisiana Sportswriters Association Coach of the Year
2004: Louisiana Sportswriters Association Coach of the Year
2 NCAA College World Series Championships
8 NCAA College World Series appearances
17 NCAA Regional berths
10 Conference Championships