2012 Iowa Conference champions
Veteran assistant Matt Schirm is the new head baseball coach at Central College.
Athletics director Eric Van Kley said that Schirm, most recently an assistant at Iowa Conference rival Wartburg College, will replace Adam Stevens, who left Central after a successful 11-year run to take a similar post at Aurora College (Ill.).
“We’re really excited about the experience Matt brings, both as a player and a coach,” Van Kley said.
Schirm was a two-year starter at catcher at Coe College, earning all-Iowa Conference honors and serving as a team captain in 2001. He also traveled to Nicaragua and El Salvador for Athletes in Action in 1999.
An assistant coach at Anamosa High School while at Coe, Schirm also assisted at the University of the Cumberlands (Ky.) from 2001-03 before spending 2004-06 as assistant director and instructor at the North Carolina Baseball Academy.
Schirm received a masters degree in education at Cumberlands, then continued his studies at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro before earning an additional masters in human movement at A.T. Still University (Ariz.). He was a school teacher in Kentucky before returning to coaching as an assistant at Wartburg in 2011.
“Matt’s a relationship-builder,” Van Kley said. “He cares not only about his student-athletes’ success on the field, but in life. His value system and his vision for the program line up totally with Central’s.”
There won’t be a need for a rebuilding effort at Central, where the Dutch have posted five straight 20-win seasons, averaging more than 25 victories per year in that span. Central was 28-16 this spring, making a strong stretch run and taking second in the league tournament. Schirm is excited about the opportunity that base provides for championship baseball in the future.
“I couldn’t be more excited,” Schirm said. “There’s a lot of momentum built up in the program.
“The most important thing is to develop a great team atmosphere. I’ve talked to most of the returning players and it’s clear that already exists. They have some great leadership and we want to maintain that. We want to get better every day and help us achieve our potential.”
That includes more than trophies and titles. Schirm identifies four goals for his players.
“We want to have a great team atmosphere and we want academic success,” he said. “We want every one of our guys to be successful in the classroom.
“No. 3 is we want each player to reach his maximum potential and No. 4 is to win championships.”
Van Kley likes Schirm’s recruiting track record.
“He’s got a tremendous work ethic and he’s an excellent recruiter,” he said. “He really relates well to young people.”
The lessons learned at his previous stops will be beneficial, Schirm said.
“I’ll be able to draw from my experiences at all those places,” he said. “Plus that’s helped me develop a lot of connections from a recruiting standpoint. I’ve already started using those.
“Central’s an easy sell. There are a lot of great things going on at the school and in the baseball program.”
The future looks promising for Central baseball, Van Kley said.
“Matt’s coming into a very solid situation,” he said. “We’re excited about building on that and we’re excited to have Matt, Jessica and their children as part of the Central family.”
The Schirms have two children: Anderson, 7, and Gabriel, 1.
Cody Baethke is in his first season as an assistant baseball coach at Central College.
A native of Williamsburg and 2010 Central graduate, Baethke was a four-time letterwinner for the Dutch football team and was named second-team all-conference defensive back in 2009. He is second on the school leaderboard with 26 career pass breakups. Central won three Iowa Conference championships and posted a 46-9 overall record during his career.
Baethke served as an assistant coach at the University of Wis.-Eau Claire in 2012, where he coached outside linebackers and was the video director.
Phone: (641) 628-5590
Former high school coach Todd Zylstra is in his fifth season as a volunteer assistant baseball coach at Central College.
Zylstra works with Central’s junior varsity squad. A 1990 Dordt College graduate, Zylstra piloted Pella Christian to the Class 2A state high school baseball championship in 1994 during a two-year stint as head coach, following a season as an assistant. He returned as an assistant coach in 2007-08.
Zylstra earlier was head baseball coach at Ontario (Calif.) Christian High School in 1992 after a year as an assistant, and was head coach at Denver (Colo.) Christian High School in 1998, leading the team to the Metro League Conference title. He served as pitching coach at Denver Christian in 1996-97 and 2000, helping the club win the Class 3A state crown in 1996.
A former teacher and school administrator, Zylstra has served as a pastor to teens and young adults at Calvary Christian Reformed Church in Pella since 2002. He is pursuing a Master of Biblical Studies degree from Birmingham (Ala.) Theological Seminary.