MACOMB, Ill. – Western Illinois head baseball coach Ryan Brownlee announced his coaching staff for the upcoming 2013 season. Brownlee announced that assistant coach Shane Davis will return and the hiring of former Iowa assistant Dusty Napoleon.
“Dusty Napoleon is coming in as our hitting and catching coach. Dusty was in our first recruiting class at Iowa. As I tell recruits here at Western, you will always have a special place in your heart for the players in your first recruiting class because they said yes to your program first. Those players pave the way for future classes to say yes. I got the privilege to coach Dusty for three years before he signed a pro contract and then we coached together at Iowa last year,” said Brownlee. “He and I have a special friendship that has grown over the last eight years. He is a very knowledgeable baseball person. He is also a baseball coaches’ son, his father Mike is a long time high school baseball coach in Illinois, he and I have a bond in that respect. He is a great student of the game and is always looking for ways to improve.
“He is a big believer in the mental game of baseball and his work with routines will be a big benefit to our hitters. His experience catching in college and at all levels of the minor leagues will help the development of our catchers as well,” said the first-year head coach.
Napoleon comes to Western after spending a year as an assistant at the University of Iowa. While there, Napoleon assisted with the Iowa hitters helping two regulars finish in the Top 15 in the Big Ten in hitting, and helping groom one draft pick. Napoleon played at Iowa from 2005-07 before being drafted by Oakland in the 19th round of the 2007 Major League Baseball Draft.
“I am extremely excited about the opportunity to coach under Coach Brownlee here at Western Illinois University.” said Napoleon, “I have had the privilege of playing for and now coaching with him and I have seen how much he cares about his players, both on and off the field. Coach Brownlee is somebody I look up to in the baseball community and I couldn’t be happier to join his staff.”
In high school, Napoleon was a standout baseball player for his father, Mike Napoleon, at IHSA power New Trier. The 2004 Sun-Times Athlete of the Year, Central Suburban League Player of the Year, and First Team Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times All-State player was also a standout quarterback for the Trevians, earning All-State honors and setting career records for touchdowns and passing yards.
“Being from Illinois, I have known about the baseball program here at Western Illinois University.” continued Napoleon, “I am eager to work with our players and help develop the Western Illinois baseball program into a Summit League contender year in and year out. I will use my experience as a player and coach to help guide our program in the right direction.”
Staying on as the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator is Davis, entering his second year at Western.
“I can’t say enough about the job coach Davis did during the hiring process,” continued Brownlee. “When most guys would have jumped ship, he hung in there, stayed loyal to the program and helped the guys get better. I had met coach Davis through various camps over the years so we had a relationship built up before I took the job. He is extremely hard working and passionate about baseball. Our short time together here has been very smooth and I look forward to seeing what we can do together.”
According to Davis, “I’m happy to be a part of a coaching staff alongside Dusty and coach Brownlee. They continue to work in a professional manner and they’re going to help build the program, I’m excited to work with these guys. I like the way the club has responded to them, the way they have responded to the club and I’m excited for things to come.”
Bill Albee will be staying on as a volunteer coach for the team. “HIs role is going to be to fill in where needed during practice and games. He also stayed on with the program during the transition. He has been a tireless worker so far. I look forward to developing a relationship with Bill over the next 10 months.” said Brownlee
Two players from last year’s team will be staying on as student assistants for the upcoming season.
“Matt Igara and Dan Russell are going to be our student assistants,” noted Brownlee. “Matt will coach the outfielders and Dan will help with the pitchers. Once I got the job, I reached out to both Matt and Dan. I felt it was important to keep both of them involved with the program. I am a firm believer in having young coaches around – first because I was in their shoes and it helps them with their future endeavors and second they can still relate to the guys because they just finished playing. Both have had great energy and hopefully this will be a great experience for them and lead to coaching jobs for them down the road.
“I couldn’t be happier with the staff that we put together on such late notice. I would be happy with this staff even if I had got the job in June,” said Brownlee
The baseball team will be in action for their first fall game of the 2012 season this Sunday as they take on Lincoln Land Community College. Game time is set for noon at Alfred D. Boyer Stadium.