Northern Colorado baseball coach steps down

The University of Northern Colorado will be looking for a new head baseball coach after its longtime leader stepped down.

UNC announced Sunday that Carl Iwasaki will not return for another season. He previously played for the program from 1980-184 at catcher.

“I cannot express how fortunate I’ve been over these last 12 years,” Iwasaki said in a statement. “We’ve been able to accomplish some amazing things since I arrived back in Greeley, and I truly feel like the next great era of UNC Baseball is on the horizon. The passion, culture and commitment from our players, coaches and administration have put this program on a path to success.

“I want to thank (former UNC Athletic Director) Jay Hinrichs for taking a chance on me, (current UNC Athletic Director) Darren Dunn for his unwavering support, my fellow coaches for pushing me, our support staff for their hard work and dedication, and of course, the players for believing in our mission. For the last decade, this job has been about the people, and it’s the amazing people who have helped the Bears get to this point and will undoubtedly push Northern Colorado to new heights in the future. I believe my greatest accomplishment has been the successes former players and assistant coaches have achieved after the ninth inning at Jackson Field.”

Iwasaki won more than 200 games with Northern Colorado, making him No. 4 in program history. In his entire career, Iwasaki has racked up more than 300 wins.

Under Iwasaki, the Bears earned seven league tournament berths in the Great West and Western Athletic conferences. He was named the Great West coach of the year in 2013 after the team earned its first GWC regular season title. That year, the Bears went 20-7 in conference competition.

Other players have earned All-Conference honors and All-Academic recognition during his tenure. Iwasaki’s resume boasts the development of Jensen Park, the 2013 Great West Player of the Year and 2015 WAC Player of the Year. Park was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in 2015. Jarod Berggren was drafted by the Rockies in 2011, as well.

Several other players earned spots on minor league rosters since Iwasaki’s hire.

Iwasaki was key in getting facility upgrades for the program, helped the Bears move into a new conference twice and promoted success off the diamond.

Eight of his players in 2022 earned spots on the Summit League Commissioner’s Academic List.

“I’m from (Hawaii), but I came here and what I received almost 40 years ago – from playing here – I’ve used that for my whole career, not just in baseball but as a man,” Iwasaki told the Tribune in March. “The reason why I came back was to give back, and hopefully have the opportunity to give these guys the same experience, so they can go out and be successes in life. That’s what it’s all about. College athletics is about wins and losses, but really it is about being successful for the next 40 plus years.”

Iwasaki came back to Greeley after spending time as the head coach of Austin College in Texas and as an assistant at Saddleback Community College. He was the general manager of the Honolulu Sharks, as well. The Sharks were part of the MLB-affiliated Hawaii Winter Baseball League.

“We want to congratulate coach Iwasaki on an outstanding career,” Dunn said in a statement. “As a distinguished alumnus, Carl has always known what it takes to be a Bear both on and off the field. His impact on the hundreds of young men he’s coached extends far beyond the baseball diamond. We want to wish Carl and his wife Shelley all the best in their future endeavors.”

UNC will immediately begin a national search for his replacement. Since the spring of 2019, the university has hired five new head coaches in Wayne Angel (track and cross country), Kristen Mattio (women’s basketball), Ed McCaffrey (football), Clayton Sikorski (men’s and women’s golf) and Steve Smiley (men’s basketball).

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