It’s official, Powers will coach the Pack next season
Special to the Appeal
RENO – Gary Powers will return to coach the Nevada Wolf Pack baseball team in 2013.
“This is what I always wanted to do,” said Powers on Friday. “I had no reason not to do it. I’m not ready to go play golf every day.”
The 63-year-old Powers will bring a 912-730-5 record into next season. The Douglas High and University of Nevada graduate became the 21st active coach in the country to win 900 games when the Wolf Pack beat San Francisco 10-5 last April 17 at Peccole Park.
Powers’ contract was set to expire on June 30.
“The hard part about all of this was just getting a chance to sit down to discuss (with athletic director Cary Groth) where the program is going and what we need to do to be successful in the future,” Powers said. “It’s just been difficult coordinating our schedules because we’re both busy. We’ve only had 45 minutes here and a half hour there to talk. And we’re still talking about some things. This is still a work in progress. But I’m going to be coaching next year.”
Powers also made sure that his three assistant coaches will also return. First base coach Chris Pfatenhauer will be back for his fourth season in 2013 and third base coach Buddy Gouldsmith and pitching coach Pat Flury will each return for their third seasons.
“That, for me, was the most important part of this whole thing,” Powers said. “The first thing we did was make sure those guys had a job for at least next year. That was decided about three weeks ago. I wanted to make sure those guys and their families were taken care of, no matter what happened with my situation.”
Powers and his staff led the Wolf Pack to a 32-25 record in 2012 and the school’s first Western Athletic Conference regular season championship. The Pack won eight more games in 2012 than it did in 2011 when it finished 24-31.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” said Powers, whose Wolf Pack will join the Mountain West Conference in 2013.
The Wolf Pack will return a solid nucleus in 2013.
The program’s resurgence in 2012 was keyed by a talented group of freshmen that included first baseman Kewby Meyer, outfielder Jay Anderson, shortstop Kyle Hunt and third baseman Austin Byler. Meyer hit .324 with 34 RBI, Anderson hit .286 with 19 RBI, 36 runs scored and 10 stolen bases, Hunt hit .246 with 19 RBI and Byler hit .296 with four homers and 22 RBI.
Sophomore Bradey Shipley became the WAC’s Pitcher of the Year in his first full season on the mound. Shipley, the starting shortstop in 2011, was 9-4 with a 2.20 earned run average. Junior Tom Jameson went 7-2 with a 2.55 ERA.
Also returning in 2013 will be outfielder Brooks Klein, who led the team with eight homers and 42 RBI to go along with a .335 average in his first Wolf Pack season after coming from Western Nevada. Outfielders Tommy Niebergall (.279 in 65 at-bats) and Jamison Rowe (.278 I 126 at-bats) also will return.
“We turned the corner a little bit last year,” said Powers, who added that junior catcher Carlos Escobar recently signed a contract with the Chicago Cubs and will not return in 2013. “It was a good rebuilding year. But we still need to take another step in order to become successful on a consistent basis.”
Powers, who began his coaching career as a graduate assistant on head coach Keith Loper’s Wolf Pack baseball staff in 1972 and 1973, has now won 30 or more games 17 times in his 30 seasons and has turned in 20 seasons of a .500 record or better. The Wolf Pack, which went to four NCAA regionals under Powers from 1994-2000, has also reestablished its dominance at home in recent years, going 57-26 at Peccole Park over the last three seasons.
“I’m committed to this group of kids and this group of coaches,” Powers said. “I enjoy being around them everyday.”
Powers said that the challenges facing the Wolf Pack in the Mountain West will be difficult.
“We’re going into a different world next year,” said Powers, who was the head coach at Incline High (1974-77), Wooster High (1978-180) and Shasta College (1981-82) before taking over the Pack program in 1983. “It’s important that everybody understands that and understands the things we need to do to be successful.
“We’re going to be competing against schools that have bigger budgets and more resources than we do. We have to continue to find ways to improve in all areas, on and off the field. We have to continue to try and find ways to generate new revenue. And that’s not just for baseball. It’s for every sport. Those are the things that we are continuing to discuss.”
Powers said he is more than happy to come back on just a one-year deal.
“That’s never been a big deal to me,” he said. “I’ve been on a one-year contract for 28 of my 31 years. That doesn’t bother me. Everybody else makes a bigger deal about that than I do.
“I’m just fortunate to be able to come to work everyday in an environment that I thoroughly enjoy. This is a great work environment, to be around people who are trying to improve their lives on a daily basis. I am surrounded by great people here at this university and I am honored to be able to be a part of all that.
“I enjoy the kids we have in the program right now and I enjoy our coaches, not only in the baseball program, but in all the sports. I still have the energy and enthusiasm you need to be successful. And I’m totally looking forward to next year.”