AZUSA, Calif.-- Azusa Pacific head baseball coach Paul Svagdis has announced the hiring of former Biola head coach John Verhoeven as the Cougars’ pitching coach for the 2014 season. Verhoeven, a former Major League baseball player for the Minnesota Twins, has been at the helm of the Eagles program for the past 16 seasons, with 2013 marking his last year with the program.
“John’s one of the most respected college baseball coaches, not only in Southern California, but the country. For us to have the chance to coach with him, we’re ecstatic. He brings a wealth of knowledge, not only in pitching, but in all aspects of the game,” said Svagdis. “Personally, when I came to Azusa Pacific the one program I looked to emulate was John's, and what he was doing with Biola. To have the opportunity to coach with someone of John's caliber, and have someone bring that kind of expertise and experience to our players, it’s going to be an honor to coach with him. I can’t say enough about him as a coach and as a person. He’s going to be a huge asset to our players and program as we make our transition to the NCAA and PacWest. John's character, player-coach perspective, and desire to be the best is something I am very excited to be a part of for many years.”
Verhoeven oversaw a Biola program that made three NAIA World Series appearances, and won five Golden State Athletic Conference championships, trailing only Azusa Pacific’s 11 titles since the GSAC’s inception in 1987. He earned five GSAC Coach of the Year honors, and was the Region’s Coach of the Year when he led the Eagles to their most recent trip to the World Series in 2005.
“I’m really excited to be going to Azusa Pacific, where they’ve experienced so much success. I’ve been watching first hand for the past 16 years and it’s neat to know that I’m going somewhere like that,” said Verhoeven. “I’m looking forward to working with Paul. I’ve coached against him for 11 years and I would say that he and I are sort of kindred spirits when it comes to the game. He’s got the same kind of spirit about the game that I feel I have. There are a lot of things that we would try to emulate about Azusa Pacific, and I hope they did the same. There is a lot of mutual respect and I feel that with Paul, that we’re real close with our philosophies. I think it’s going to be a real good situation.”
For Verhoeven, who was the pitching coach at Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount prior to his tenure at Biola, transitioning from head coach to pitching coach won’t be difficult.
“Being a head coach is so much work. Dealing with all of the things that don’t have a whole lot to do with baseball, like schedules, paperwork and everything else that a head coach has to do I’ve gotten tired of. For me, becoming a pitching coach is about going back to baseball. It’s hard to concentrate on one facet of the game when you have to be concerned about the offensive side, the defensive side, and everything in between. I’m looking forward to just being concerned about baseball. It’s where I got my start, and I feel like that’s where I’m going to end,” said Verhoeven.
Verhoeven was a 12th round selection in the 1974 MLB draft out of the University of La Verne, where he was a first-team NAIA All-American. He made his first Major League appearance in 1980 for the Twins, and in 2000 was named to La Verne’s All-Century Team.
At Biola he put together a 546-298 record, and registered a 313-160 record in GSAC play. His Eagles are also the only GSAC team to hold a winning record against Azusa Pacific, going 43-33 against the Cougars since 1998.