More than winning: Baseball coach seeks to be mentor in life for players

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There may be one thing more important than winning to Chris Pfatenhauer, head coach of the Dixie State University baseball team — being a mentor to his players.

Pfatenhauer was hired as the head baseball coach in August 2012. He’s led his teams to win two Pacific West Championship titles during that time. He said that how he runs the team off the field may be more important than winning. 

“[Off the field], I want our guys to act professional,” Pfatenhauer said. “I want us to treat people the right way. In general, our guys do it right in terms of going to class, getting good grades and treating people with respect.”

Pfatenhauer said his ultimate goal is to win a national championship, but more so, he hopes to be a positive mentor for his players. 

“It’s tough to see kids graduate and leave the program,” Pfatenhauer said. “As tearful as [senior day] can be, seeing those guys move on, you hope that you’ve done a good job of mentoring them to be good husbands and parents.”

Redshirt senior second baseman Drew McLaughlin is the only player that has been on the team with Pfatenhauer since he was hired. McLaughlin said he felt welcomed by Pfatenhauer the minute they met. 

“The first time I met [Pfatenhauer], I thought he was very easy to talk to,” said McLaughlin, a criminal justice major from Scottsdale, Arizona. “It was nice to feel welcome from a guy who didn’t recruit me to accept me with open arms. It just made me want to stay and play for him.”

Pfatenhauer said when he was hired, he wanted to establish a system that would help the players perform on the field as well as off the field. Although maintaining that system may be hard, Pfatenhauer said he loves doing it.

“I felt [DSU] was a place where I could have an impact on young men,” Pfatenhauer said. “My goal was to be able to implement that kind of a system. When we talk about the system it’s the way we travel, it’s the way we eat, it’s the way we dress; It’s also the way we practice.” Pfatenhauer said he does things a bit quirky at times. He wants his team to be prepared in every situation and that when it comes to practice, nothing is off limits.

“We practice everything,” Pfatenhauer said. “We practice the national anthem. We practice how we are going to take batting practice, and how we are going to take infield and outfield.”

Junior pitcher Dylan File said Pfatenhauer is one of the best coaches he’s ever had. He says the most impressive thing he’s witnessed with Pfatenhauer’s coaching style is the way everyone buys in.

“There are guys on every team that don’t necessarily agree with the way the coach runs things,” said File, a criminal justice major from St. George. “Everyone on the team has seen the success that [Pfatenhauer] has had, and even though some may not agree with the way he does things, they still do it that way because it’s a successful way.”

Pfatenhauer said he hopes people recognize the way the program is run.

“We do a lot of things a bit unique at times,” Pfatenhauer said. “That’s the beauty of what we do. I just hope people outside here identify how great our kids are and how hard they play, and that will be enough.”