Sunday, October 19, 2008

Brew named National Coach of Year

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) recently announce that Lee University head coach Mark Brew is the Rawlings-NAIA and ABCA National Baseball Coach of the Year. The award will be presented to coach Brew at the 2009 Rawlings-NAIA Awards Luncheon on Jan. 3 in San Diego, Calif. The luncheon is part of the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) Convention which runs from Jan. 2-5 at the San Diego Marriott Hotel & Marina.

"I am extremely surprised and humbled to receive this award,” said Brew. “The NAIA is full of great coaches and to even be considered for this award is hard for me to grasp.”

“Though this is an individual award, many had a hand in the success that our team had in 2008 and I would like to thank them publicly,” he stressed. “First and foremost was our 2008 team. The 2008 Flames battled all year to put us into the position to play for a national championship and they should be commended for there work ethic and desire to succeed.

“As any coach knows, we are only as good as the people we surround ourselves with and a lot of the credit has to go to our coaching staff (Coach Travis Watson, Coach Craig Kleinmann and graduate assistant coaches Aaron Simmons, Jared Gaston, and Chris Shepherd). They are tremendous at what they do and it makes my job much easier.

“Also to the administration at Lee with President Dr. Paul Conn, Vice President Gary Ray, and Director of Athletics Larry Carpenter who have provided our program with the necessary resources to operate at a high level. To Coach Dave Altopp, who started this program in 1996 with a vision and helped mold it into a championship caliber program and believed in me enough to make me a part of it.

“Finally, to my wife Rachel who has supported me and traveled with me to just about every game I have coached. It is not easy being a coach’s wife and her support for me and the Flames program is second to none. I am grateful and thankful to all of these people and honored to share this award with them.”

AD Carpenter praised the work of his young coach. “I am extremely proud of the job coach Brew has done over the past 12 years and especially the last two. In only his second season as head coach he took his team to within one pitch of winning the World Series and firmly established Lee as one of the top programs in the country.

“I can think of no one more deserving to win the NAIA National Coach of the Year,” Carpenter added. “Mark is an extremely hard worker who understand the mission of Lee and makes it a priority as he works with his team. This is a great honor for Mark, our baseball team, the athletic department, Lee University and the City of Cleveland.”

Brew, who guided the Flames to a national runners-up spot in 2008, is 114-25 entering his third season. Last year, Lee made its third World Series appearance overall and earned the No. 1 seed in the tournament. The Flames ended their year with a 63-10 record. Brew mentored two players to NAIA-All American status including First-Team pitcher Pablo Lopez and Second-Team first baseman Chris Warters.

The Flames rattled off 34 straight wins during the 2008 campaign starting with a 6-0 win on Feb. 8 and continue to win for nearly two-and-a-half more months. After appearing in the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) Championship, Lee took home Region XIII Championship honors wiping out LSU-Shreveport. Winners of the Super Regional, Lee again was on a hot streak heading into the World Series winning nine of its last 11 games.

Searching for its first ever national championship, Brew and the Flames won their first four World Series contests averaging 8 runs per game. However, their hot streak and season came to a halt when Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) won in consecutive nights to take home the national hardware.

As a team, Lee was third in the country in batting average (.361) and averaged 8.4 runs per game, good for eighth in the nation. Known for his pitching, Brew should have been proud of his pitching corps. As a unit, Flames’ pitchers held opponents to a .243 batting average, which was 13th lowest in the NAIA.

This award is Brew’s first in his career. The 1994 Trevecca Nazarene (Tenn.) University graduate pitched for the Trojans. He was the squad’s closer for four seasons. He earned his master’s degree from the U.S. Sports Academy in 2006.

Prior to head coach status, Brew served under coach David Altopp for 10 years as the assistant. Altopp will be inducted into the ABCA Hall of Fame during the Convention.

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