Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Panther Nation!

By now you may have seen we did have one coaching change in our ranks over the summer.  The main page lists Brian Walth as taking the reins of the baseball program as Nick Harlan has accepted a job at NCAA University of Central Arkansas.  We are sad to see Nick go, in many ways for many reasons, but are happy to have the chance to keep Coach Walth who has been so essential to that program's success.  As we begin the Walth era and say goodbye to friend, colleague and teammate, Nick Harlan, I realize how grateful I am to call both of these men "friend" and fellow employee.  I will eagerly watch Nick's career as he continues elsewhere and at the same time Coach Walth and I already have a strong working relationship that I know will continue to grow.  For now, here's a piece we have put together to celebrate "The Harlan Era."

A Look Back on the Harlan Era

York College is saying farewell to one of the finest coaches who has ever walked the base paths for the Panthers. 
Nick Harlan ‘03 has accepted a job at NCAA Div I Central Arkansas University as Associate Head Coach, ending a nine year stretch as skipper of the York College baseball program. He leaves behind a long list of accomplishments and changed lives. 
It’s one thing to have the respect of your players—a lot of collegiate coaches can lay claim to that—but Coach Harlan also garnered the respect of the faculty, staff and administration of York College.  His deeply held convictions about Jesus Christ and his love for the Word of God is what he was known for around campus. 

I remember one Saturday, York College was preparing for game three of a four-game series against a team we typically would beat easily.  As I walked toward the dugout, I saw Coach Harlan addressing his players with a certain fire in his eyes. I assumed that someone on the team must have been taking pre-game warm-ups too lightly and he was calling them up to get them focused. 

When I got a little closer, I realized he was actually talking to the team about the meaning of Easter and Jesus's resurrection from the grave. I walked away with a smile on my face, impressed with how easily he was able to teach about life through the platform of athletics.

Nick is man of faith in Jesus first. He loves God and He loves God's people. But he also loves to win.

In his nine years as head coach, Harlan never finished lower than fourth in the conference. His teams competed in the MCAC tourney every year and won it twice (2010 and 2013). They also claimed the regular season title twice (2010 and 2011). 
His teams competed in five NAIA regional tournaments and advanced to the NAIA College World Series in 2013 by winning the Judson, Illinois bracket, sweeping the field in three straight games. 
His overall record stands at an outstanding 325-170. That’s a .657 winning percentage, averaging 36 wins a year.
Career batting average for the team during his time was a .327. He often boasted teams that featured players leading many categories in the NAIA. This past season, his World Series team posted a personal best earned run average of 2.63, which helped lead the squad to York College's highest ranking ever in the NAIA—#8 in the nation.  The numbers are impressive but more impressive—and more important—are the lives that he has helped to change along the way, as his players can attest.

"It was an honor and privilege to play for Coach Harlan. He was by far the most passionate coach I have been around. He is very selfless and always tried to do what was best for the team, the school, and God. I just want to thank him for helping me become the man and father I am today.” 
-Robert Enriquez

"Coach Harlan impressed upon us the importance of being men of character on and off the field. He taught me to be a man of integrity more than he taught me how to steal a base. He showed me how to push myself to my mental and physical limits. He taught me more about commitment than any other person. Coach Harlan was not just a baseball coach, but a life coach in my eyes."
-John Richards, (NAIA All-American 2008)

"Coach Harlan was a role model to all of his players…He always said no matter what time of day, if you needed someone to talk to, just call him and he would answer…We always talked about our core values—love, respect, work ethic, attitude, integrity, and code blue lockdown—and that’s made our team stronger and closer. We are all sad that he is leaving, but we will continue the tradition and we won’t let him down."
-Aaron Conyers (Honorable Mention All-American 2013)

"Coach Harlan treated his players like family, and that helped his teams reach their potential. He is the kind of coach that players would do anything for, and in return he would do anything for his players. Coach Harlan not only coached the game of baseball, but he also taught me about life. I was honored and blessed to play under Coach Harlan during his time at YC, and know his hard work and core values will help him succeed anywhere he goes."
-Bruce Amende, (NAIA All-American 2010)

"Coach Harlan isn't just one of those coaches you interact with at the ballpark. He's a part of his players’ off the field. He's more than just a coach. He's a mentor and a friend. There's a reason the program has had so much success since he took over. The values he has instilled into the program are the same values that he lives by in his personal life. Whenever I think back to Coach Harlan or York Baseball in the future, I'll always think of those values. Love, integrity, respect, attitude, and work-ethic."
-Alec Abend
Coach Harlan was, undoubtedly, a great coach, and I am sorry to see him go. Yet, I’m not worried about the future of York baseball. A large part of his success has been his right hand man, Brian Walth ’02, who has been an assistant coach in the program for more than ten years.

This fall, Coach Walth will take over leadership of the program he has helped build. I am confident he will continue the success that he and Coach Harlan have trained Panther fans to expect.

I want to thank Coach Harlan for the years he has dedicated to the students of York College and wish him well as he moves on to a new adventure.

We’re proud of you. We’ll miss you. God bless you as continue to transform students lives through Christ-centered education and equip students for lifelong service to God, Family and Society...regardless of whether you're here or in Arkansas!

Jared A. Stark
Director of Athletics, York College

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