New baseball coach returns to home state

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Michael Pearce, Editor-in-Chief

After two seasons coaching at Akron University in Ohio, Oakland University Baseball’s new head coach, Jordon Banfield, is returning to his home state.

The Ann Arbor native graduated from the University of Michigan in 2008, and after graduating, traveled across the United States working for various baseball teams.

Banfield previously worked as a head coach for the Ann Arbor Travelers while employed as a scout for the Texas Rangers. The Travelers produced 20 Division I athletes and qualified for the Connie Mack World Series in back-to-back years.

His first collegiate coaching job was at the University of Illinois-Springfield (UIS), where he worked as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator.

“I’ve been quite a few places and then got to experience in parts of the country, working for different people and honestly you take pieces from all of it,” he said. “You take different pieces that you think work and integrate those into your own style.”

Recruiting is a major responsibility for a head coach, and Banfield has experience in both recruiting and scouting. While at Akron, he was the recruiting coordinator as well as assistant coach, overseeing all aspects of recruiting.

“I won’t be throwing any pitches or taking any swings next spring — thankfully,” he said. “It’s all about the players. Good players make coaches look good. That’s the biggest piece of how we’re going to work to improve the product on the field.”

As a 32-year-old head coach, Banfield said his age is neither an advantage or disadvantage.

“I don’t like to call myself a young coach — I think I’m just a coach,” Banfield said. “I don’t think it’s a benefit or a negative — the fact that I’m in my early 30s. I want our players to take me for me. That’s the answer I’d give if I were 33 or if I were 63.”

While at UIS, Banfield made the most impactful relationship in his coaching career — his best friend, Chris Ramirez.

Ramirez was the head coach of the Prairie Stars and won the most games in UIS history, winning 158 games over nine seasons.

“He has sort of become my sounding board for everything, we talk damn near every day and developed a relationship,” Banfield said. “He’s somebody I can rely on — I’d say in my coaching career that’s the relationship I’ve made that has made the biggest impact on me.”

When he recruits players, Banfield said he first looks for extraordinary athletic ability — something that isn’t coachable.

He expects his players to not only be great on the field, but great off it as well. He said he wants everyone who interacts with the Golden Grizzlies to have a positive impression.

“I want to run the program where our guys just do stuff right,” Banfield said. “That’s a pretty broad statement, but it applies to all areas. We want the general population around campus to think ‘those baseball guys do stuff right. They’re good kids to have around, and we never have a problem with them.’”

Twelve years after graduating from Michigan, Banfield is happy to be back where he was raised and at a job he’s always had his eye on.

“I’ve sort of worked my way back home — it’s great” he said. “My dad is still in Ann Arbor, he actually used to coach with me when I coached travel ball. It’s awesome to be back around him. It [Oakland] was sort of a job that every time it came open when I was younger, I was like ‘man, that’d be good.’”

The major difference Banfield expects from coming back home is not getting booed when he reveals his alma mater.

“I’m a Golden Grizzly now — not a wolverine — but I’m definitely a Michigan alum and was raised to be anti-Ohio,” he said. “Every time someone asked where I went to school, they’d boo me. I certainly think I’m headed back to the state in the Midwest that I belong in.”