Contact: Wendel Sloan at 505.562.2253
Reporter: Robert McKinney
PORTALES – Eastern New Mexico University has hired Kevin Blaskowski as head coach of the Zia softball team. Blaskowski, age 39, who spent the past five seasons as the head softball coach at Southern Arkansas University, will begin his duties immediately. He replaces Ron Landschoot, who served as ENMU's interim head softball coach this spring.
The upcoming season (2004) will be Eastern's eighth season of intercollegiate softball competition. The Zias were 38-14-1 and tied for fifth place at the NCAA Division II National Finals in 2001. ENMU was 24-29 this spring.
"We are extremely fortunate to have Kevin Blaskowski join our staff," Director of Athletics Mike Maguire said. "He will be an excellent addition to the program. We look forward to the 2004 season.
"We also want to express our gratitude to Ron Landschoot for serving as our interim head coach," Maguire added. "His time and effort were appreciated, and we wish him the best of luck in future endeavors."
Blaskowski, who started the SAU softball program from scratch prior to the 1999 season, has an overall record of 136-126 (.519) in five seasons with the Riderettes. SAU earned a 31-19 record this season, including 19-4 in the Gulf South Conference West Division.
"I'm very excited about coming to Eastern New Mexico University," Blaskowski said. "I think its exciting to join a program that's been to the National Tournament ... and is interested in getting back to the national level.
"I'm aggressive," Blaskowski said regarding his coaching style. "We've got to recruit some quality athletes. We're going to be aggressive ... we're going to run."
Blaskowski's career record during 12 seasons as a collegiate head coach is 341-241 (.586). He was the head coach at Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina, Kan., for three seasons (1992, 1993, 19994), then coached at Washburn University in Topeka, Kan., for two seasons (1995, 1996). He started a first-year team at Phillips University in Enid, Okla., in 1997 and remained there in 1998. He moved to SAU when Phillips closed as a university at the end of the 1997-98 academic year.
He had three winning seasons at Southern Arkansas. The Riderettes were 34-25 in their second year of existence in 2000, then went 28-21 in 2001. This year's overall record of 31-19 set a school record for fewest losses. SAU advanced to the GSC tournament all five seasons.
Southern Arkansas' softball players also excelled in the classroom. SAU was ranked in the Top 10 of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association team GPA rankings in 1999-00 (5th), 2000-01 (7th) and 2001-02 (8th).
While at SAU, Blaskowski served as a member of the NCAA Division II South Region rating committee. He was named Gulf South Conference Co-Coach-of-the-Year in 2000. He was chosen Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) Coach-of-the-Year at Kansas Wesleyan in 1993 and was selected NAIA District 10 Coach-of-the-Year at KWU in 1994.
Blaskowski received a Bachelor of Science in Education with a major in Physical Education from Valley City State University in North Dakota in 1986. He completed a Master of Science in Education with an emphasis in Health, Physical Education and Recreation at Emporia State University in Kansas in 1989.
He also was a health, kinesiology and recreation instructor at Southern Arkansas. He was the sports information director at Phillips and Kansas Wesleyan, served as head coach of women's basketball at Kansas Wesleyan and was the assistant sports information director at Washburn. In addition to coaching softball, he will be an instructor in the Department of Health and Physical Education at ENMU.
Blaskowski and his wife, April, will be moving to Portales. They are the parents of two daughters, Kaelyn Rose, age 3, and Kelsey Rhea, born on Apr. 27, 2003.
New Softball Coach (photo by Robert McKinney)