South Carolina pitching coach Mark Calvi knows how important it was that the Gamecocks took advantage of their opportunities on the way to winning their first College World Series title.
A little more than two weeks later, Calvi is taking advantage of his own after accepting the head-coach-in-waiting position at the University of South Alabama.
“You don’t get these opportunities every day,” Calvi said Thursday. “Life is about getting opportunities and making the most of them.”
Calvi, who finished his sixth season as USC’s pitching coach and 17th in the collegiate coaching ranks, guided a staff that keyed the Gamecocks’ postseason run, which included a CWS-low 2.15 ERA in seven games. In four of the past six seasons, the Gamecocks have ranked among the top five in the SEC in ERA, finishing first this season with a 3.45 mark.
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South Alabama athletics director Joel Erdmann told Calvi that his track record had put him on the school’s watch list before the championship run.
“He (Erdmann) said, ‘I’m not trying to capitalize on South Carolina’s success. I had your name long before the World Series. There’s a lot more to your coaching career than one season,’” Calvi said.
But Calvi also knows the championship gave his candidacy a boost in terms of visibility and viability. For the 2011 season, he will serve as associate head coach for the Jaguars, replacing coach Steve Kittrell when he retires at the season’s conclusion. Calvi will be introduced at a news conference at 2 p.m. today in Mobile, Ala.
“I’m very excited for coach Calvi and his family as he embarks on his career as a head coach,” USC coach Ray Tanner said. “He is deserving of this opportunity and will be a great leader for Jaguar baseball. Coach Calvi is a tremendous pitching coach and friend. He has done a magnificent job here at Carolina, and we wish him success at South Alabama.”
During his career at USC and Florida International, Calvi has had 35 pitchers drafted or signed by Major League Baseball teams. That group includes USC senior right-hander Blake Cooper, who earned All-America honors this year after posting a 13-2 record with a 2.76 ERA in his fourth season working with Calvi.
“I wouldn’t have left South Carolina for anything other than a head coaching position,” Calvi said. “This is one of the best places to live and a great place to work. I would have stayed as long as coach Tanner wanted me.”
Calvi joins a program that has played in the NCAA tournament 24 times in the program’s 46-year existence — coming within one win of advancing to the CWS six times. The Jaguars have claimed 15 Sun Belt regular-season championships and 11 league tournament titles. But the program hasn’t made the NCAA tournament since 2006.
Calvi, a 41-year-old Marco Island, Fla., native who played at Nova Southeastern as a catcher as well as season in the Seattle Mariners organization, is ready to take the next step in his career.
“I’m ready to give the program a shot in the arm,” Calvi said. “It really is a great opportunity, and Mobile is a great town. The school is moving in a positive direction. There’s a great feel to it.”
Another USC assistant might be moving on as well. USC associate head coach Chad Holbrook has been mentioned as a candidate for the Winthrop position. Calvi said the chance to run his own program was too good not to consider.