Svagdis comes to Azusa Pacific after spending the past 6 seasons as the head baseball coach and an assistant football coach at Pomona-Pitzer, an NCAA Division III institution in Claremont, Calif., where he posted a 122-107 career mark. This past season, Svagdis guided the Sagehens to a 36-7 mark, including a perfect 18-0 record in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC), as well as the institution’s first SCIAC baseball crown since 1955 and a trip to the 2002 NCAA Division III Western Regional Playoffs. For his efforts, Svagdis was named 2002 SCIAC Coach of the Year.
“Paul’s combination of his success as a coach on the college level, strong academic emphasis, and Christian commitment is what made him our number one choice,” said Odell. “The combination of those 3 pieces is what makes this an exciting hire for us. He has been a successful collegiate coach. He places an emphasis on academics both in his recruiting philosophy and in his own life, and his Christian lifestyle makes him a strong role model for our athletes.”
At Pomona-Pitzer, Svagdis inherited a program that had fallen on hard times, but in a matter of 3 seasons, he brought the Sagehens to prominence and returned the program to the top of the SCIAC. After finishing a combined 21-53 in his first 2 seasons as a head coach, Svagdis led the Sagehens to 4 straight winning campaigns and 3 straight 20-win seasons. In 2001, he guided the Sagehens to a 24-12 mark and a 16-5 finish in the SCIAC, just 2 games behind conference champion and SCIAC power California Lutheran.
Svagdis takes over the Azusa Pacific program from longtime head coach Tony Barbone, who resigned last month after 17 years at the helm. Barbone is the winningest coach in Azusa Pacific history, compiling an impressive 516-252 (.672) career record. He led the Cougars to a record 8 Golden State Athletic Conference championships, and his 250 career GSAC wins are the most in conference history.
Svagdis inherits an Azusa Pacific team that returns 16 players from last year’s 28-17 squad that won its first GSAC crown since 1995 with a 21-7 conference mark.
“I am excited about this new opportunity for me and my family,” said Svagdis. “In a sense it is bittersweet, because I’m leaving a positive situation at Pomona-Pitzer that is a result of the strong relationships I developed. However, the opportunity here at Azusa Pacific is a one-of-a-kind. It presents me with new challenges, and that is what makes this exciting for me as a coach and a teacher.”
As a player, Svagdis was a 4-year starter in both baseball and football at Tufts University in Medford, Mass., from which he graduated in 1993 with a bachelors’ degree in economics. He was an All-New England selection 3 years and was the team MVP twice. Svagdis was selected Tufts Outstanding Male Athlete of the Year as a 1993 senior.
Immediately after graduating, Svagdis spent 3 seasons as an assistant baseball and football coach at Tufts and earned his master’s degree in education in 1996 before taking the Pomona-Pitzer position. He is an active member of COIN (Coach of Influence), the American Football Coaches Association, and the American Baseball Coaches Association. While at Pomona-Pitzer, he was a member of the West Regional NCAA Advisory Committee and was the West Regional Chairman of the Division III All-American Committee.
Svagdis and his wife, Catherine, have one daughter Emma (3), and he is currently working on his Doctorate of Education at Azusa Pacific. He will also teach in the university’s physical education department.