Utah baseball coach Bill Kinneberg has announced the hiring of Jason Hawkins as associate head coach for the Utes (June 26, 2014). Hawkins, who comes to Utah after three years as head assistant coach at UC Santa Barbara, will also serve as the team's hitting coach.
"I'm very excited about the chance to work with Jason," Kinneberg said. "He comes to us with a wealth of experience, both as a head coach and as an assistant at his last job at UCSB. When I went into this search, we wanted to hire the best hitting coach that we could get, and someone with ties to the west coast for recruiting. Jason fits those things for us. He has been involved in a program that has improved to become a force in the west at Santa Barbara, and his recruiting ties will be extremely valuable for us. He will add a lot to our program not just as a coach, but as a person. I'm really excited about the opportunity to work with him."
"I'm very excited about the opportunity to help the program continue to improve in any way I can," Hawkins said. "Coach Kinneberg and his staff are an awesome group of professionals and I am eager to learn from them. The athletic tradition at Utah is something I'm looking forward to being a part of. Coaching in the Pac-12, one of the best conferences in the country, will be a challenge, but one that I am eager to tackle. My family is thrilled about moving to the Salt Lake area and becoming part of the Utah baseball family."
At UC Santa Barbara, Hawkins implemented and managed the offense, and was responsible for skill development of all facets of the offence, catching and outfield play. UCSB is coming off back-to-back 30-win seasons for the first time since 1991-92. The 2014 team was ranked as high as 10th nationally by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. In 2013, the Gauchos earned an NCAA Regional berth for the first time since 2001 and finished tied for second in the Big West Conference.
Under Hawkins, the UCSB offense improved each year statistically in batting average, on-base percentage and stolen bases. The team led the Big West in stolen bases all three years. In 2014, the Gauchos were 21st in the NCAA in stolen bases per game (1.65), and ranked second in the conference in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, runs scored, doubles and RBI.
Six offensive players have been drafted out of UCSB over the last three seasons. Utility player Joey Epperson earned first-team All-America honors in 2014. He ranked 14th in the NCAA in on-base percentage and was a 13th-round draft pick. Brandon Trinkwon was a seventh-round selection in 2013 while outfielder Brett Vertigan was drafted in the 10th round in 2012. Vertigan was also an all-region selection. Robby Nesovic was a Freshman All-American in 2013 and the Big West Freshman Field Player of the Year.
Hawkins brings 10 years of experience coaching at the collegiate level to the Utes. Before joining UCSB he was the head coach at Occidental College from 2009-11. In three seasons, he improved Occidental's record from 16-24 (6-15 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) his first year in 2009 to a 23-16 record in 2011, finishing tied for third in the conference standings with an 18-10 league mark. Occidental led the conference and ranked in the top 10 nationally in stolen bases all three seasons, while Jason Jebbia and Logan Allen both earned all-region honors.
He spent four years as head assistant coach at the University of Redlands as infield and hitting coach and recruiting coordinator. Consistently one of the top teams in the league, Redlands led the SCIAC in batting average every year, setting a new school record in 2008 with a .363 team average. The team was first or second in the conference in fielding percentage and stolen bases three of his four years with the team. Redlands ranked first in the NCAA in double plays per game in 2007, while ranking seventh in the country in stolen bases.
Hawkins also spent two years with the Palm Springs Power in the Southern California Collegiate summer league (2006-07), helping them to back-to-back league titles. He was a pitching coach for the Corvallis Knights in the West Coast Collegiate summer league in 2008. The Knights finished first in the West division and won the WCL championship.
Before joining the college ranks, Hawkins was a head coach at Desert Hot Springs High School in California (1999-2004) and Springfield High School in Oregon (1995-96) and also served as an assistant coach at North Eugene High School in Oregon (1997-98).
Hawkins received a bachelor's degree in English and history from Western Oregon State in 1995, and earned a master's in teaching with an emphasis in English from Pacific University in 1998. Hawkins and his wife Angela have two children, eight-year-old Will and seven-year-old Cal.