Ahead of the 2022 season, UChicago baseball welcomed a new head coach in Kevin Tyrrell. After serving as an assistant coach for three years, Tyrrell has stepped into the role that former head coach John Fitzgerald vacated.
Tyrrell grew up with sports, playing basketball, football, and baseball. While in high school, Tyrrell received a recruitment offer and scholarship from Lewis University, where he played second base and shortstop. Upon graduating in 2007, Tyrrell worked at a consulting firm and coached a summer travel team based in the south suburbs of Chicago, the Upper Deck Cougars, for three years.
Before joining UChicago, Tyrrell worked as the head coach at College of DuPage for seven years, after receiving a recommendation from his college coach. As a coach at a community college, Tyrrell would often send his graduating players to North Central College, where John Fitzgerald served as the head coach at the time. When Fitzgerald transitioned to UChicago, he convinced Tyrrell to join him as an assistant.
Now, Tyrrell’s responsibilities as head coach include recruiting players, scheduling games, and running practices. Due to COVID, recruiting so far has come in the form of conducting online research and video conferencing with prospective players. This summer, however, Tyrrell plans to travel for five and a half weeks to showcases across the country.
“After the season’s over, I can dedicate most of my time to recruiting, making sure that we continue to build off the momentum that [Coach Brian Baldea, who coached the Maroons from 1991 to 2014] set in motion years ago and bringing in high character, high-quality young men who are outstanding athletes,” Tyrrell said.
To get a full picture of candidates, Tyrrell reaches out to their coaches and teachers. “One of the most difficult things about baseball is the amount of times you’re going to fail. Even the best players in the world fail seven out of 10 times as a hitter,” the head coach said. “You need to know how to respond to adversity, because without it you can’t be a success. It’s a nine-inning game, a 45-game season, and at any given point you can be terrible and still win a championship.”
During the season, Tyrrell gathers his players’ schedules, compiles them into a spreadsheet, and determines optimal practice times. “This is an academic school,” Tyrrell said. “Sports should not conflict with academic schedules.”
This season, Tyrrell’s individual and team goals intertwine. As a team, Tyrrell hopes to win the team’s first Midwest Conference Championship. By winning this, the team would receive an automatic bid to go to regionals. “We need to win the conference. It’s in everyone’s mind from day one. The players talk about it on a consistent basis,” Tyrrell said.
Making it to regionals would give the team the opportunity to compete in the national championship
On an individual basis, Tyrrell seeks to have three players named All-Americans. The selection process for this award relies on statistics alone, drawing data on the success of the team as a whole, including their win-loss record. In addition to this, Tyrrell plans to continue last year’s legacy of having the entire team of 36 players selected as Academic All-Conference award recipients.
When asked about the best part of coaching, Tyrrell said he enjoys the relationships he forms with his team. “Watching them transform from a recruit who just stepped on campus to a graduate of the University of Chicago is just a really mind-blowing experience,” Tyrrell said. “I’m so fortunate to be a part of it. It’s easily the best part, all the time we get to spend together, working on becoming better, and bringing out the best in each other.”