By Alan Grosbach, Manager of Communications and Sports Information
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Baseball Coaches Association (BCA) Executive Committee has selected Grand View (Iowa) head baseball coach Lou Yacinich as the recipient of the 2014 Robert E. Smith Achievement Award. Yacinich will receive the award on January 3 during the Rawlings-NAIA Baseball Hall of Fame and Honors Luncheon at the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) Convention in Dallas, Texas.
“Coach Yacinich has dedicated the majority of his lifetime serving NAIA college athletics,” said Scott Dulin, NAIA-BCA Past President and USA Baseball Liaison, in his recommendation letter. “He directly – or indirectly – makes baseball the best experience he can for all that he has touched through his various positions. One comment of Lou’s that really stuck out to me was when he told me, ‘If the other coaches in the NAIA think I can help NAIA Baseball and all of the players that play NAIA baseball, then it’s my duty and my chance to make it better.’”
Yacinich has served as the head baseball coach at Grand View for 39 years – the longest tenure among active NAIA coaches – and owns a career record of 1,024 – 717 (.589) with the Vikings, which ranks fifth on the active coaching wins list. He is one of only 15 NAIA coaches all-time to record more than 1,000 victories. Yacinich has led the Vikings to three NAIA World Series appearances, three NAIA Baseball Championship Opening Rounds, seven Midwest Collegiate Conference Championships and eight District 15 crowns. He is a member of the NAIA Baseball Hall of Fame, ABCA Hall of Fame, Grand View Hall of Fame and the Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
In addition to his duties as head coach, Yacinich devoted his time throughout all aspects of NAIA baseball. Peaking as NAIA-BCA President in 2011-12, Yacinich has been an officer and served on many different NAIA baseball committees during his tenure. He has been a member of the NAIA World Series Games Committee – responsible for the administration and supervision of the championship – while also serving as the events host from 1992 – 1995.
“I have had the pleasure to work with Lou in many capacities for a number of years and have developed a great respect for him as a person and as a coach,” said Troy Plummer, Grand View Director of Athletics, in his recommendation letter. “He always works to uphold the integrity of the game of baseball and is uncompromising in his values. He impresses upon his athletes the impact that participating in the sport of baseball can have on their development as young men. It’s never about winning or losing with Lou. It’s about having a positive impact on his players and helping them develop into productive citizens in the community.”
Established in 1999 by the NAIA-BCA, the Smith Award is presented to an outstanding NAIA coach or administrator who has demonstrated unselfish promotion of NAIA baseball. The award’s namesake, Robert “Ish” Smith, was the first recipient of this award in 1999. Smith, an NAIA Hall of Fame baseball coach and former President of Greenville College (Ill.), also served as the President of the International Baseball Association.