Jason Harvey was literally learning on the job a year ago.
His first full-time coaching stint was as an assistant at his alma matter, Husson University, two falls ago.
And when head coach John Winkin collapsed and was unable to return, Harvey became the interim head coach last spring.
Under his tutelage, fourth seed Husson came one win away from winning the North Atlantic Conference championship, dropping a pair of games in the championship round to top seed Castleton State.
They finished up 16-23.
This season, Husson set a school record for wins with 31 (31-12) and won the NAC title to earn its first trip to the NCAA Division III Tournament. Husson overcame a two-run deficit with three ninth-inning runs to beat Castleton State in the championship game, ending a string of six consecutive runner-up finishes.
“The guys were determined not to get shut out [of a championship] again,” said Harvey. “They came up big all year. Every time there was a big situation, somebody else stepped up.”
He is grateful to the university for giving him the opportunity to be the full time head coach after his interim season.
“It was a relief and it gave me the chance to put my coaching philosophy to use over the course of this season,” said the 25-year-old Harvey. “I started in the fall and built on it from there.”
He said the most important lesson he learned last year was to be organized and prepared for practices and games and to “make sure everybody was on the same page.”
He said he was more open with his players this season when it came to letting them know where they stood and what their role was.
His coaching philosophy stresses being aggressive on the bases and at the plate.
“I tell the guys to be aggressive until somebody stops us. We don’t hit and run or bunt much. Most of the time, the guys have the green light [to swing the bat]. The more freedom you give them, the more relaxed they are,” said Harvey, whose Eagles have stolen 88 bases in 94 attempts and have set a school record with 27 home runs.
However, he will also bunt if the situation warrants it and his Eagles have 18 sacrifices.
There is an adage that you never want to be the coach who follows a legend, you want to be the coach who follows the coach who follows a legend.
But Harvey didn’t have much time to dwell on his plight when he took over for multiple Hall-of-Famer Winkin.
And he is grateful to the players on last year’s team for their instant acceptance of him.
“They showed me respect and that made my transition a lot easier,” said Harvey who, by his own admission, is learning every day.
Harvey, who played golf and basketball at Husson in addition to baseball and also spent a year as the starting shortstop at the University of Maine, is quick to acknowledge that he has had the benefit of playing for several outstanding coaches. And learning from all of them.
That list includes former Bucksport High baseball coach Dave Gonyar, former Brewer American Legion coach Dave Morris, Winkin, ex-Husson baseball coach John Kolasinksi, former Maine coach Paul Kostacopoulos and Husson basketball coach Warren Caruso.
“Each coach had his own style,” said Harvey, who works in the admissions office at Husson, which is ideal for him.
“It’s nice. Recruiting is a year-round job for me, not only for baseball but for the university as well,” he said.