UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State Baseball is 9 days away. Head Coach Rob Cooper told College Baseball Central Thursday, that the staff are in the midst of preparing for a 4 game series against the Gardner Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs at Bill Masters Field at John Henry Moss Stadium in Boiling Springs, N.C., Feb. 14, 15 (a double header), and 16 to start the season.
“Gardner Webb looks good on the mound,” Cooper said. “Right now our guys are buying in great, however, I’m interested to see how they are going to do when they hit adversity, and Gardner Webb is capable of providing that adversity.”
Cooper and the PSU baseball program will be taking the field – for what is undoubtedly – the first temperature check of the program, collectively, for both staff and players on these dates.
“Even though we have a lot of junior and senior guys on the club, it’s essentially like everyone’s freshman year,” the 25-year coaching veteran added. “They don’t really know what to expect from me and my program coming in, after they have been doing another program for two or three years.”
“We lost some guys due to the length of the hiring process,” Cooper admitted. “But I couldn’t have asked for a better group of seniors to inherit. I loved my job at Wright State, but when the PSU job opened up there were so many things that made me want to join this program.
The fact that this is such a life changing degree for the student, and the commitment from administration to be good, along with recruiting, I felt all those things would give us a chance to do great things.”
David M. Joyner was named Penn State’s Acting Director of Athletics on November 16, 2011, and has been a knight in shining armor leading Penn State Athletics through tough times. Joyner’s commitment to help provide education at an elite level through athletics, along with coaches likes Cooper are what makes this university stand-out. Leaders – leaders off the field – leaders on the field – that’s what matters the most in college athletics and PSU baseball is short of neither.
“When I think of leaders on this team,” Cooper continued. “Alex Farkes pops out first. He is a leader. He walks the walk, he’s not an excuse maker, and when Alex talk’s people listen.”
There has been some concern as to how deep the Nittany Lions bullpen will be this year. Coach Cooper sheds a little light on that subject;
“That’s the biggest thing I’m excited to see,” Cooper exclaimed. “I want to see where we are at. People were worried about our depth on the mound but I think we are going to be fine. The guys have really bought in to what pitching coach Brian Anderson is teaching, and we are putting it together. Right now that weekend pitching rotation is still up for grabs.”
Cooper is making all the right moves and Nittany Lions baseball faithful can rest assured their program is in good hands and on the right track to success.
“We have a lot of things to get better at, and we are far from being the team we can be, but the great facilities here at PSU allow us to work at that,” Cooper said.
United States Air Force Academy grad and California native Cooper, was chiseled off a legendary baseball coaching block by the name of Jerry Weinstein, who currently serves on the staff of the Colorado Rockies. Weinstein began his coaching career at Sacramento City College (where Cooper grew up), and has coached at many prominent collegiate programs, including California State Polytechnic University, and served as director of player development for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2000 and 2001.
“Jerry Weinstein is my mentor,” Cooper explained. “He taught me to be a teacher, and not just to teach, but to teach why you do what you do. I want to be a teacher of the game and put the guys in a position to win, to coach the whole person, and show that I care deeply for them.”