Baseball coach celebrates anniversary with NKU

The first pitch in NKU’s season opener against the Campbell Camels will mark the 15th year Todd Asalon has been the head baseball coach of the Norse.

“It’s been an incredible journey,” Asalon said. “To come back and be in charge of the baseball program where I once played has been a blessing without a doubt.”

Prior to accepting the position in 2000, Asalon spent six years as the skipper at Thomas More College, where he led the Saints to a school record 32 wins in his final season. His success at TMC ultimately landed him the head coaching gig at NKU, superseding legendary coach Bill Aker, who won more than 800 games in 29 years with the Norse.

“Bill called me up and said he wanted me to be his successor,” Asalon said. “Getting the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of my old college coach and mentor made it really special.”

Since Aker’s retirement, the baseball program hasn’t missed a beat with Asalon at the helm. During his tenure at NKU, Asalon has accumulated 456 victories, winning back-to-back Great Lakes Valley Conference titles in 2008 and 2009 and propelling the Norse to eight NCAA Division II Tournament appearances before the program switched to Division I in 2013. He has also sent numerous players to the big leagues, most notably Nate Jones of the Chicago White Sox.

“It’s really the icing on the cake,” Asalon said. “It’s so hard to get drafted and nearly impossible to reach the big leagues, so for us to develop them, it says a lot about the program and our coaching staff. When you hear their name called on draft day followed by ‘Northern Kentucky University,’ it’s really a cool moment knowing you helped them get to that point.”

Asalon truly cares about his players and their success, as junior pitcher Aric Harris can attest to.

“It’s been a great experience playing for him,” Harris said. “He provided me with a lot of playing time my freshman year, which was beneficial to get that experience at a young age. I felt like he gave me a great opportunity to succeed as a baseball player.”

The Norse are entering their third year at the Division I level, and although it’s been a struggle adjusting to the superior competition, Asalon expects his team to continue to progress and compete with the bigger schools in the Atlantic Sun Conference.

“We’re just trying to get better year after year and win as many games as possible,” Asalon said. “I’d like to be .500 and finish in the top six so we can qualify for the conference tournament.”

Asalon believes that is a realistic goal going into the season, especially since almost all of his players are returning from last year, including senior infielder David Head.

“Todd pushes us to be the best baseball player possible,” Head said. “He expects a lot out of us because he knows how good we can be as a team.”

You can catch the Norse baseball team in action when they take on the IPFW Mastodons in their home opener on March 11.