Alongside Head Coach Matt Howard stand three young, experienced assistant coaches with the wisdom to make IU Kokomo a nationally-known team.
Kokomo-native Joe Thatcher stepped in to fill the pitching coach role for IUK. Thatcher recently retired from the MLB after originally being signed to the Milwaukee Brewers in 2005. Prior to his time in the show, Thatcher graduated from Indiana State University in 2004. His career dates back all the way to his time spent as a Kokomo Wildkat. He graduated from Kokomo High School in 2000.
Now, as a Cougar, Thatcher hopes to teach these young men how to pitch – not throw.
“The biggest thing I want to help them with is, when you get on the mound, you’re facing good hitters. You have to know how to pitch and know how to execute different pitches. Facing bad high school hitters, a lot of the time these guys throw the ball right by them. Here, those balls get hit hard, so you have to learn how to pitch. With my experience, I’m really trying to pass onto these kids what it looks like to pitch and not throw,” said Thatcher.
Previously a volunteer-assistant coach with the University of Indianapolis for two seasons, Zach Hall was involved heavily in developing pitchers. When he was not working with arms, Hall managed and ran practices and games.
Looking forward with IUK, Hall will see a similar role. He will work with pitchers alongside Thatcher, but he is also the recruiting coordinator.
“I do a lot of the recruiting for our team. Starting last December our main goal was getting a roster put together and trying to get the best student-athletes we could find. We made sure they were the right kind of kids who fit into our program and fit into our culture. When I’m not busy recruiting, I’m working with Coach Thatcher on pitching. Myself being a former pitcher, we kind of tag team that, and I assist him with the day-to-day stuff and make sure things are running smoothly,” said Hall.
After serving as an assistant coach for Avila University for five years, Jason Leone will complement Coach Howard on the base paths as the first base coach. In his time at Avila University, Leone was in charge of infield and hitting, as well as its recruiting coordinator.
Leone will be looked to as the Cougar’s infield coach, while assisting Howard with hitting and recruiting.
“I’m the infield coach. I help Coach Howard with the hitters, and I help a little bit with recruiting. It’s a little bit different territory. I’m trying to learn the state. Coming from Missouri and Kansas and being from California, I knew the west side. This is actually the farthest northeast I have ever lived, so I’m still learning the area. I will also coach first base, which is not too different from my role at Avila,” said Leone.