While attending the University of Maine, Aaron Izaryk spent two memorable summers playing for the Sanford Mainers of the New England Collegiate Baseball League.
This month, the former Black Bears standout, and current UMaine assistant coach, is returning to his old stomping grounds as Sanford’s manager.
The 26-year-old Izaryk, a native of Markham, Ontario, said Tuesday he has agreed to coach Sanford in the wooden bat league for college-age players. He replaces Joe Brown, who was promoted at Cortland State and had to step down.
“It’s going to be a great opportunity,” said Izaryk, who just completed his second season as UMaine’s pitching coach.
“This is certainly about making me a better coach for the university,” he said. “It’s not about the next job, it’s about doing a good job where you’re at.”
Sanford is the defending NECBL champion.
It is the first head coaching position for the native of Markham, Ontario, who has worked the last four seasons at UMaine under coach Steve Trimper.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for Aaron to get a different perspective on things in the coaching world,” Trimper said. “The Mainers are getting a young coach who’s enthusiastic and a very knowledgeable person in the game.”
Izaryk’s staff will include former UMaine teammate Joel Barrett of Brewer (hitting) along with Harvard assistant Aaron Landis (pitching).
Izaryk played at Sanford after his sophomore and junior seasons at UMaine in 2003 and ’04. He helped the Mainers earn the 2004 NECBL title and made some lasting friendships.
“There’s a certain comfort level I have here,” said Izaryk, whose fiancée, Jamie McCurry, is a native of nearby Biddeford.
Izaryk also will be charged with serving as a UMaine ambassador during his stay in Sanford. He said there is a nucleus of UMaine supporters there, including UMaine grads Jeff Titherington and Bob Hardison, both of whom serve on the Mainers’ board of directors.
“It’s a huge move not just for our baseball program but for the university down in southern Maine,” said Izaryk, who had planned to spend his summer working summer camps and doing some recruiting.
He thanked Trimper, UMaine athletic director Blake James and UMaine president Robert Kennedy, for allowing him to pursue the position.
Izaryk has inherited a team recruited by Brown. The players report June 1 and play their first game June 4.
Izaryk will make lots of phone calls to the players’ college coaches to find out about their abilities. He said the aim is to keep things simple.
He said his offensive philosophy will be built on ABCs: a. get somebody on base; b. get them over into scoring position; and c. get them in.
“In the end, it’s up to the kids to go out and execute and have fun and develop,” Izaryk said. “Calling the shots will be a challenge, but it’s something that I’ll be excited for.”
After graduating from UMaine in 2005, Izaryk was a graduate assistant in 2006 and 2007. He also was an assistant coach for the NECBL’s Keene (N.H.) Swamp Bats during the summer of 2006.
In 2007, former UMaine player and Thomas College coach Greg King offered Izaryk an assistant spot with the Hyannis Mets of the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League.
Izaryk had a stellar career for the Black Bears from 2002-05. The lefthanded-hitting catcher was a four-time all-conference selection for former coach Paul Kostacopoulos an and helped lead UMaine to NCAA tournament appearances in 2002, when he was named a Collegiate Baseball/Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American, and 2005.
Izaryk finished his career with a .318 batting average, 134 runs scored and 123 RBIs in 197 games at UMaine.
He earned a degree in kinesiology and physical education, winning the 2005 M Club Dean Smith Award given to the top student-athletes at UMaine.
Izaryk became the program’s first second-team Academic All-American in 2005. He also was honored as the America East Baseball Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2004 and ’05, when he was named the America East Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year.