Update: Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Biola University Athletics announced on March 15 that it would cancel all remaining spring competition and team activity. For more details on this announcement, visit athletics.biola.edu.
The grass is cut, the chalk lines are down and the bases are freshly painted. It’s baseball season at Biola and the beginning of a new era. The 2020 season is Biola baseball’s first year under new head coach Jeff Calhoon and the first time Biola is eligible for NCAA Division II postseason play.
We sat down with Calhoon — a former Division I player with several years of successful coaching experience at other Southern California universities — to catch up on his first few months and get a gauge on the future of baseball at Biola.
What are you most looking forward to this year?
I am excited to be able to make a difference in our players’ lives. I’ve been around really good programs and have seen the way things are done at a really high level. For me it’s been just prioritizing that our guys know they are cared for and loved on. That’s priority number one.
What drew you to Biola?
The transition to NCAA Division II wrapping up was a huge part of it. Being able to work again at a Christian college is huge to me. We’re in a great conference, in a great region and there’s an opportunity to go win. There’s a history of winning here. In the late ’90s, early 2000s, there were a lot of wins. We’re trying to get back to getting that type of baseball presented again.
What’s been your impression of Biola so far?
I love it here. We were at the [American Baseball Coaches Association] convention and that was the question I was asked by everybody. I told them all how this place is unbelievable. The way you feel the faith on this campus is in the way you’re treated. You can genuinely feel the love of Christ in people on our campus. There are people who really want to talk with you, care for you, pray for you and make sure you’re doing OK. That’s been stunning for me.
At Biola, our mission is to help our student-athletes “Reach New Heights” athletically, academically and spiritually. How is that built into your program?
We challenge our guys a lot. We have a dress code. We talk about “four for 40,” which means what we are trying to teach them now is going to affect them for the next 40 years. We talk about being 1% better every day. It’s about constantly getting a little bit better at everything we do. That doesn’t mean getting better at fielding a ground ball every day. It might be getting better at starting their day in the Word. It might be getting better with their sleeping habits or treating people better. It’s a real holistic approach to making sure our guys get 1% better every day.
What would make this year a success?
We talk a lot about being able to compete to go to a national championship. That’s the opportunity this team has. They’re the first team at Biola to have that opportunity at the NCAA Division II level. This group gets to set the foundation for the legacy of Biola baseball at the NCAA Division II level. They do not take that lightly.
What’s the potential of this team? What do you want to accomplish?
In the long-term, the way our assistant coaches recruit is at such a high level that the players we’re trying to bring in are guys who fit the mold of the university. They are Christ-centered kids with a lot of talent. They are guys who want to go work their tails off and win a national championship. Those are the kind of guys coming down the pike, and we’re really excited about that and think we’re going to be very good in the future.
Interview by Neil Morgan
Photo by Austin Prock