KOKOMO, Ind. – Indiana University Kokomo Cougar athletics has selected an all-star coaching duo to lead the men’s baseball team in its inaugural season. Athletic Director Greg Cooper announced that Matt Howard will coach the team, with Joe Thatcher as assistant coach. Howard coached the Kokomo Jackrabbits in the Prospect League for two seasons, leading them to the post-season playoffs in 2016. He begins work at IU Kokomo on Dec. 6 and will immediately begin the job of recruiting players.
“This truly is a dream come true,” said Howard. “I am humbled and honored to be the first head baseball coach of the IU Kokomo Cougars.”
Kokomo native Joe Thatcher graduated from Kokomo High School before playing four seasons at Indiana State University. He retired from Major League Baseball in September after 13 seasons with teams including the San Diego Padres, Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and the Houston Astros. Thatcher has played in more MLB games than any Howard County graduate.
Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke is appreciative of the search committee that reviewed more than 100 high-quality applicants. Although it was a difficult decision, they believed that Howard rose to the top due to his passion and energy, which was infectious.
“We could not be more excited to have Matt and Joe start our program,” she said.
Howard, who is currently an assistant coach at Ball State University, says his passion for the game makes him the right leader for the baseball team — and as a young coach, he can relate to his players.
“Leading the baseball program gives me an opportunity to do what I love to do, while also being part of a community for which I have a strong affinity,” Howard said. “IU Kokomo offers a phenomenal campus culture, a first-class education, and administrators who genuinely care about providing a quality student experience.”
Howard played baseball at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania, and has been a college assistant coach at LaSalle University. He also played for the Traverse City Beach Bums and the Southern Illinois Miners of the Frontier League.
Cooper said the combination of Howard and Thatcher creates, “a coaching duo that rivals any in the NAIA.”
“Having Joe is a blessing for our program,” Howard said. “He’s going to be able to teach the aspects of pitching better than anyone. When you have someone who has played lots of innings in the big leagues, he commands respect right away.”
IU Kokomo baseball program will begin play in the 2017-2018 school year and will call the synthetic turf of Kokomo Municipal Stadium home.
Courtesy of IU Kokomo and the Sports Journal staff