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Mr. Mitch Gaspard




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Email: mgaspard@ia.ua.edu

Assistant Baseball Coach, Fall 1988 to Spring 1992 on the Boulanger staff.

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Mitch Gaspard is his own man.

He has his own philosophies on hitting, pitching, defense and ways to build a championship
program and you cannot argue with his success.

That success has come from hard work and high energy, both on and off the field.

“We want to be known as a blue-collar-type team,” Gaspard said. “I believe in hard work. We want to work hard in the classroom, during practice and at the games. We want to out-work the teams we play. Our strength and conditioning program is built around mental toughness. When the game is on the line in the ninth inning, we want to be mentally stronger than our opponent. We want the toughness to show in all areas of our team.”

Gaspard spent the fall instilling that toughness in his first Alabama squad. He has a high-energy coaching staff with a deep passion for the game and deep passion for the Crimson Tide program. Assistant coach Dax Norris, who serves as the team’s hitting coach and recruiting coordinator, played two years at Alabama in 1995-96 and brings that mental toughness to the hitters every day. Assistant coach Kyle Bunn, who played at The Citadel, brings a hard-nose, military background to the pitching staff.

The energy level of the coaching staff brings about some intense practices and tension-filled scrimmages this fall, putting the players in game like situations to see how they would respond. On offense, things will be different from years past.

“Our offensive philosophy is going to be different,” Gaspard said. “You can look at my teams at Northwestern State; we were third in the nation in two of the six years in stolen bases. The one unique quality we have here is we have power but we also have athletes with speed.

“We’ve got to use that and really have the aggressive style that’s going to put pressure on the defense and I think we can do that with our offense with a little bit of a running game, hit-and-run, playing the short game some and also being
able to hit the three-run homer. We can use all three packages on that.”

Gaspard also wants to translate that mental toughness to the mound, where Bunn has played a key role this fall. “I think the number one goal for us pitching wise, is we’ve got to command the strike zone. We’ve got to have that same aggressive style on the mound and throw the fastball and put it where we need it and get tough mentality on the
mound, the same as many of our position players.”

Gaspard brings confidence to the Tide baseball program as well. His personality and attitude has been the difference this fall.

“His personality is much different and he is so confident in what we are doing,” Alabama senior third baseman Jake Smith said. “The energy level is there every day. We worked hard this fall and I think that it is going to pay off this spring. I am expecting a really good season.”

Gaspard has learned from some of the best in the business. He comes from a coaching tree that is a virtual Hall of Fame. His 21-year coaching career has included playing and working for some of the best in the game, like former LSU
coach Skip Bertman, former Houston coach Bragg Stockton and former Northwestern State and Alabama skipper Jim Wells.

After graduating from Port Arthur-Jefferson High School, where he led the team to a state title and earned all-state honors at shortstop, Gaspard played one season for Bertman at LSU. He transferred to Houston in 1986 and finished his career with the Cougars, earning his degree in 1988.

Stockton offered him his first coaching job and he spent one year at his alma mater before moving on to UL Lafayette for the next three seasons. From 1989-92, the Ragin Cajuns won three straight conference titles and played in three
NCAA Regionals.
During his days as Wells’ assistant at NSU, the Demons won SLC titles in 1993 and 1994, winning in NCAA regional play in 1994.

Gaspard was a pivotal figure as an ace recruiter and shrewd tactician in the remarkable revival of the Crimson Tide. Alabama had four SEC wins in 1994, but after Gaspard arrived, the Tide won the SEC Tournament in 1995 and was one win away from the College World Series. By the time Gaspard returned to NSU, Alabama had earned six NCAA Regional appearances and three College World Series berths, including a national championship game loss to LSU in 1997.
In each of his seven seasons at Alabama, Gaspard molded the Tide into one of nation’s finest defensive units. Alabama set numerous school records and ranked among the nation’s Top 10 fielding teams twice in his tenure.

Gaspard was the chief recruiter for Alabama. In each of his first five seasons, Alabama ranked among the nation’s top 20 recruiting classes, including three straight Top 10 recruiting classes, according to Baseball America and Collegiate

“Mitch is a bright, young, energetic coach with a great passion for the game of baseball,” former Tide coach Jim Wells said. “He is an outstanding recruiter and teacher. He is a tireless worker and is one of the main reasons that we were so
successful in the early stages of building our program at Northwestern State and Alabama.”

Gaspard got his first head coaching job at Northwestern State in 2002 and compiled a 211-128 (.622) record in his tenure at Northwestern State. During those six years, he led the Demons to a pair of Southland Conference championships, one SLC Tournament championship and a berth in the 2005 NCAA Baton Rouge (La.) Regional.

After the 2007 season, Gaspard decided to return to Alabama, where he would be reunited with Wells. After two years as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, Gaspard helped the Tide regain its baseball momentum and for that
he was named the Tide’s 30th head coach on Sept. 2, 2009 after Wells retirement.

“It’s the ultimate for me and I know I’m extremely excited and honored to take over the program and move forward and strengthen where we’re at right now,” Gaspard said. “I consider Alabama to be the greatest University
and we play in the greatest conference (SEC) against the top competition that there is in the country in college baseball.”
With his pedigree, energy and intensity, Gaspard is sure to be a success with the Crimson Tide program.

Gaspard has enjoyed success at every level of his baseball career as a player, assistant coach and head coach. The first-year Crimson Tide head coach has worked more than 1,500 games and his teams have compiled a 1,052-530-3
(.665) overall record. Those teams have won 10 conference championships, nine conference tournament titles and played in 14 NCAA Regionals. In addition, Gaspard has played or coached on 16 teams that have won 40 or more
games and three of his teams have 50 or more wins in a season.

Gaspard has been associated with some of college baseball’s top coaches, including Skip Bertman, Bragg Stockton and Jim Wells. Bertman changed the face of baseball in the Southeastern Conference and led the Tigers to five
national championships. Stockton had great influence on the Gaspard’s career and offered the young infielder his first coaching position. That first job has turned into 20 years of coaching excellence, with Gaspard demanding the best of
his players on and off the field. Gaspard played a vital role in the revival of Alabama baseball in the mid 1990s. His keen eye for talent and his ability to teach the game of baseball sent the Crimson Tide to College World Series in 1996, 1997 and 1999.

Gaspard’s four-year collegiate career at LSU and Houston saw his teams compile a 148-91 (.619) overall record, post two, 40-win seasons and play in two NCAA Regionals (1985 and 1987). He began his career at LSU in 1984 and
1985, earning one varsity letter on Coach Skip Bertman’s first LSU squad in 1984. The 1984 edition of the Tigers posted a 32-23 overall record. The 1985 team went 41-18 en route to the SEC Western Division championship and collected the school’s first NCAA Regional appearance since 1975. He transferred to Houston following his sophomore season and played two years for the Cougars and lettered in 1986 and 1987. He played on Coach Rolan Walton’s final UH team in 1986, helping the Cougars to a 35-23 overall mark. In his final season as a UH player, Gaspard helped the Cougars to a 40-27 overall record and a berth in the NCAA Central Regional in Austin, Texas under first-year head coach Dr. Bragg Stockton. The Cougars finished the year ranked 14th nationally.

HOUSTON (1988)
Gaspard’s first coaching job came at Houston in 1988 under the legendary Stockton, where he tutored with the Cougars’ infielders. Houston posted a 33-22-3 overall record in 1988. Gaspard’s first game as an assistant coach came on Feb. 13, 1988 against Texas Lutheran.

UL LAFAYETTE (1989-92)
Gaspard spent four years at Louisiana Lafayette and the Ragin’ Cajuns won four conference titles during his time on campus. ULL posted a 183-74 (.712) during Gaspard’s time under Coach Mike Boulanger. In 1989, the Ragin’ Cajuns posted a 49-13 overall record and captured the American South Conference championship with an 11-4 record. The following year, ULL (47-18, 11-4) repeated as conference champs and advanced to the NCAA South I Regional in Baton Rouge, La., before losing to LSU and Southern Mississippi in consecutive games. The Ragin’ Cajuns (49-20, 14-4) pulled off the three-peat in 1991, winning its third straight American South Conference championship. ULL beat Texas, Clemson and Mississippi State during the regular season. The Ragin’ Cajuns advanced to the NCAA Regionals for the second straight year, finishing runner-up to eventual national champion LSU in the NCAA South II Regional in Baton Rouge. After an opening-round loss to Texas A&M, ULL bounced back to beat Northwestern State, South Alabama and Texas A&M, before dropping the title game to the Tigers. In 1992, ULL (38-23) finished first in the Sun Belt Conference Western Division and played in the school’s third straight NCAA Regional, losing two straight games to Long Beach State and VCU in the NCAA Central Regional in Austin, Texas.

Gaspard hooked up with Jim Wells for the first time in 1993 and the two built a close friendship and working relationship over the next 15 years. In his two seasons at NSU, the Demons went 85-29 (.737) and won two Southland Conference championships, one SLC Tournament championship and played in one NCAA Tournament. The 1993 NSU squad went 40-14 en route to the SLC title. The 1994 team won a school-record 45 games en route to a 45-15 slate and a berth in the NCAA Midwest II Regional in Stillwater, Okla. The Demons won eight games against top 25 clubs in 1994 and set 19 school and SLC records en route to an 18-6 conference mark.

ALABAMA (1995-2001)
Gaspard followed Wells to Alabama and played a prominent role in the revival of Crimson Tide baseball. During his seven years on the staff, the Crimson Tide posted a 320-127 (.732) record and played in six NCAA Regionals and
made three College World Series appearances (1996, 1997 and 1999) in a four-year span. Alabama also won the 1996 SEC Championship and captured four SEC Tournament (1995, 1996, 1997 and 1999) championships. The Crimson Tide was also the No. 1 seed at the 1996 and 1997 CWS, the first team in history to be the top seed in consecutive World Series. Gaspard was responsible for bringing in some of the nation’s top baseball players with five top 20 classes, including three straight top 10 finishes. One of his star pupils, Lance Cormier, earned All-American honors on the field and in the classroom and left the Capstone as the all-time leader in appearances, innings pitched, wins and strikeouts. A fourth-round draft pick, Cormier now pitches for the Tampa Bay Rays. Under Gaspard’s watch, Alabama has some fine defensive units. Alabama led the SEC and ranked fourth nationally with a school-record .971 fielding mark in 1996. The following year, Alabama led the league and ranked ninth nationally with a .968 fielding mark in 1997. The 1997 squad was the most prolific offensive team in school history, leading the nation in total hits (860), runs scored (679), total bases (1,571) and slugging percentage (.622). The Crimson Tide also ranked second nationally in home runs (160), home runs per game (2.29) and wins (56), all school records.

Gaspard was named the head coach at Northwestern State following the 2001 season, following in the footsteps of Jim Wells, Dave Van Horn and John Cohen, all who had left the Louisiana school for SEC head coaching jobs. His six-year record was 211-128 (.622), which included two Southland Conference Championships, one SLC Tournament Championship and one NCAA Regional appearance. Under Gaspard guidance the Demons had 28 All-Southland Conference selections, including 12 first-team picks. Gaspard had two players win major awards under his watch, including 2002 Southland Conference Pitcher of the Year O.J. King and 2004 CoSIDA/ESPN the Magazine Academic
All-American Bobby Barbier. Gaspard led the Demons to a pair of SLC Championships in 2002 and 2005. His first NSU squad captured the Southland Conference championship and finished with a 43-17 overall record, including a 14-10 mark in league play. The Demons ranked third nationally in fielding (.974), 11th in double plays (1.17), 12th in earned run average (3.54) and 18th in winning percentage (.717). The 2002 NSU team set the school record with 612 hits and 53 sacrifice bunts. Despite a solid RPI and key wins over South Alabama and Minnesota, the Demons were left out of the NCAA Tournament. The 2003 team posted a 35-22 record, including a 16-11 mark in SLC play, and ranked 12th nationally with 2.02 stolen bases per game. Tigger Lyles was 19th nationally with 0.59 thefts per game. The 2004 Demons posted a 33-23 record and 16-9 mark in conference play. NSU set a school record with 134 stolen bases to rank sixth nationally with 2.34 thefts per game. Lyles and Josh Boop were among the nation’s top stolen base artists with 0.52 stolen bases per game to tank 29th nationally. Gaspard led the 2005 NSU team to a 41-20 overall record and his first trip to the NCAA Regionals. The Demons posted a 22-5 conference record, setting the SLC record for wins, en route to the league championship and a berth in the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional. The 2005 squad also set the school record with 19 saves. Daniel Desclouds (10) and Blake Jones (8) accounted for 18 of the saves and both ranked among the nation’s top 50 closers. The Demons compiled a 33-28 record in 2006 and set the school record with 522 1/3 innings pitched. Gaspard was 25-28 in his final season at NSU in 2007.

ALABAMA (2008-09)
Gaspard came back to Alabama as assistant coach and recruiting coordinator on July 9, 2007. He spent the last two years as the Crimson Tide chief assistant coach and ace recruiter. Alabama went 72-49 over the last two seasons and played in 2009 NCAA Clemson Regional. The 2009 squad was one of the most prolific offensive squads in the nation as the Tide ranked among the nation’s top 25 teams in home runs per game (7th), slugging percentage (7th), home runs (8th), doubles (12th), runs scored (18th), runs per game (18th), batting average (22nd), doubles per game (23rd) and total hits (25th). The 2009 Alabama team featured SEC Player of the Year Kent Matthes and a school record tying five first-team All-SEC selections.

Source: Alabama Baseball website June 21, 2010