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Head baseball coach Chris Ramirez

Photo of Chris Ramirez.
Photo courtesy of UIS Athletics

Photo of Chris Ramirez. Photo courtesy of UIS Athletics

Nick Zambito, Sports Reporter

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Prairie Stars head baseball coach Chris Ramirez has played ball all the way up to the start of his coaching career.

Ramirez played both as a pitcher and outfielder for Fort Madison High School in Southeast Iowa, and one of his favorite memories was during his junior year of high school, when his team won the state tournament.

Committed to the sport, Ramirez decided to play baseball at Iowa State University in the Big 12 Conference.

Unfortunately, during his senior year, Iowa State dropped its baseball program, and Ramirez was forced to take a different path, playing at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. There, he was the team’s starting center fielder and closer on the pitching staff.

After Kirkwood, Ramirez transferred to High Point University, a small Division I program in North Carolina.

Of his time at High Point, he said it “was a great experience to spend a couple of years on the east coast and get to play teams like North Carolina, Duke, Wake Forest, Miami, Virginia Tech, and Coastal Carolina.”

As a senior at High Point, one of his favorite memories was playing at the University of Miami, which at the time had current MLB players Ryan Braun, Gabi Sanchez, and Jon Jay on their roster.

“I threw Jon Jay out at home plate from the outfield trying to score on a base hit from second,” said Ramirez. “Ryan Braun made a diving play at third base, stealing a hit from me.”

After his senior season ended, Ramirez received a job offer to be a financial advisor with American Express, but he decided he wasn’t quite ready for a full-time office job.

Ramirez explained, “I ended up taking the job as assistant baseball coach at [Southeastern Community College] in Burlington, Iowa. In the summer I coached for the Northwood Collegiate Summer League in Madison, Wisconsin. I then took the job at Texas A&M Corpus Christi as recruiting coordinator and third-base coach. From there I took the job here as head coach at UIS.”

Ramirez said he loves coaching at UIS and having the opportunity to start a program from scratch and mold it into a winner. With a passion for competition and bringing a group of individuals together as one, Ramirez said his expectations never change.

“I expect to win every time we step onto the field. We will play it one game at a time. We recruit these players and work each day to hopefully be in a position to win a championship at the end of the season.”

It’s not all about baseball, though.

“Ultimately what drives my message and purpose as a coach is to prepare young men to be successful after college,” said Ramirez. “We get to relate the lessons learned on and off the field here at UIS to what they will have to face as an adult in the real world.”

Last year, the Prairie Stars were 28-23. This year, they return with three players that have been all-conference here at UIS: Trey Hannam, a senior, was first-team All-GLVC last year; John Sechen was second-team All-GLVC as a freshman last year; and Mike Rothmund is a junior who was All-GLVC two years ago as a freshman.

Also returning on the pitching staff is sophomore Adam Gregory, who ended last season in the starting rotation.

The Stars are certain to shine this season under the direction of Ramirez. Though the Great Lakes Valley Conference is tough, the UIS team is tougher.

“I don’t pay too much attention to the [conference] standings. If we play clean baseball, we will be in the mix at the end of the season.”

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Award winning, student run, weekly campus newspaper of the University of Illinois, Springfield..
Head baseball coach Chris Ramirez