Sept. 29, 2005
By Brian Witter
The Santa Clara
Following a momentous 2005 season in which the Santa Clara baseball program expanded significantly with the christening of Stephen Schott Stadium in April, Athletic Director Dan Coonan announced a three-year extension on Broncos head coach Mark O'Brien's contract on Friday. Terms of the extension were not released.
Effective immediately, the augmentation to the 35-year-old's current agreement comes after four previous seasons which saw their fair share of ups and downs. However, now that his team does not have to deal with a coaching change, the energetic skipper feels that his program only has room to grow.
"I think we've gotten a lot better in a number of different ways since I've been here," O'Brien said. "Despite losing several players to injury, not to mention the professional draft, I think with the new facility here, that we'll be able to develop immensely. My goal is for us to make an appearance on the national scene and hopefully get into the Top 25 in a three-year period."
The 35th head coach in Santa Clara baseball history, O'Brien's enthusiasm and appeal to both players and the athletic administration comes across in his recruiting classes, which have been ranked in the Top 20 nationally. Coupled with the completion of $8.6 million Schott Stadium, O'Brien will more than likely add to the list of All-Americans, first-round picks and major-league signees that he has coached.
With an overall record of 111-113 and 63-56 in the West Coast Conference, O'Brien was the fourth coach in school history to win 50 games in his first two seasons on the Mission Campus. Furthermore, he is the only coach at Santa Clara to produce at least four All-Americans in only three years at the helm. When it comes to his devotion for coaching college baseball, O'Brien insists he does it for the kids.
"You get to make a huge impact on lives when you have a job such as mine," O'Brien said. "I get to see these guys get a degree and grow into men. Whenever any of my players feel like they have a problem involving something off the field, they can always come talk to me. It's quite a feeling."
Success is nothing new to this head coach. Before he arrived at Santa Clara, O'Brien worked as an assistant coach at nearby Stanford University. Additionally, he served as a recruiting coordinator for the Cardinal and saw three classes ranked in the nation's Top 10, including the 2001 class which was heralded as the best in the country. While at Stanford, O'Brien was part of the team that made it to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. three years consecutively. Stanford placed third in 1999 and second in both 2000 and 2001.
This summer, O'Brien was instrumental in signing two top players from Puerto Rico -- Hector Pellot and Juan Parra. Pellot was chosen in the fourth round by the New York Mets and was listed as one of Major League Baseball's Top-20 prospects earlier this year. Even though he has gotten some of the best players in the country to sign a national letter of intent for him, O'Brien knows that his success at Santa Clara is due to the dedication of his entire team.
"I've always said that the harder we work, the better we get, and I've got to give my guys a ton of credit. They are, without a doubt, some of the hardest workers that I've ever coached. They're a great group of guys who have been blessed with this amazing facility, as I have, and I know that they'll be rewarded in the near future with bigger and better things."