INA, Ill. (July 23, 2020) — Rend Lake College is in the market for a couple of new coaches as vacancies have opened for the baseball and softball teams.
Earlier this month, longtime head softball coach Dave Ellingsworth announced he would be retiring after 27 years leading the Lady Warriors. And recently, head baseball coach Tyler O’Daniel announced he would be stepping down from his position as he moves on to a teaching position in his hometown area in Kentucky.
“My decision to step down and move back to Kentucky was not an easy one,” O’Daniel said. “I think everyone who knows me knows that no matter what my family is always my priority. When I was given an opportunity to move my family back to where I grew up, to be close to relatives, we had to take it.”
O’Daniel has been the Warrior’s head coach since 2017. He previously served as an assistant starting in 2014 and the Warriors showed marked improvement in hitting during that period. Since taking over to start the spring 2017 campaign, the Warriors have compiled an 84-85 record under O’Daniel over four seasons, including last season, which was truncated due to COVID-19. The Warriors found postseason success under O’Daniel when they claimed the first Region XXIV Championship in 11 years during the 2018-19 season with a win over John A. Logan College.
“Being the Head Coach for the last four years has been one of the greatest experiences of my life, and I can only hope that the players that have played for me can say the same thing,” O’Daniel said.
O’Daniel did not only coach at RLC. He started his career with the Warriors as a player in 2008 and, after a couple of successful seasons, would go on to play at the University of Indianapolis.
“We are very sorry to see Tyler leave our program, but we understand that he feels like this is the best decision for his family. We really appreciate the way he ran our baseball program over his tenure here and will definitely miss his contributions to our athletic department,” said RLC Athletic Director Tim Wills. “Tyler took over the program at mid-year which was a difficult circumstance to start his head coaching career. However, he did a great job of running our program with integrity and class and I am grateful for that. We will be trying to find a new head coach who will run our program with the same type of integrity and class going forward. I wish Tyler and his family the very best in this new endeavor. No matter where he goes, he will always be a Rend Lake Warrior.”
Along with plenty of team success, individual players earned plenty of accolades under O’Daniel’s leadership. During his four seasons as head coach, 44 players continued their playing careers at four-year universities and 34 players earned NJCAA Academic All-American honors.
“As a program, we are 100% player focused. Our goal every year is to build a better student, athlete, and man. When you focus on the player as an individual, you build a strong program as a whole. When I was a player here, I made some of the best friends I have ever made, and I feel like that tradition has continued because of our closeness and culture within the program,” he said. “Junior College is different. Ask anybody that has played at this level, we are built a different way. Everybody playing college baseball works hard, it is what got us to where we are, but to play, train, and succeed at Rend Lake takes a different kind of commitment and dedication to bettering yourself.”
RLC is now looking for its 11th head coach in program history. The RLC Baseball program has compiled a 1,656-1,190 (.582) since the 1967-68 season (some early-season records are not available). The Warriors won Region XXIV Championships in 1985-86, 1996-97, 1998-99, 2007-08 and 2018-19. They won Sectional Tournament Championships in 1981-82, 1985-86, 1992-93, 1996-97, 1998-99 and 2007-08. And the team advanced to the District (Interregional) Tournament in 1985-86, 1996-97, 1998-99 and 2007-08. The program won Great Rivers Athletic Conference Championships in 1983-84, 1985-86 and 1987-88.
Last season, the Warriors were off to an 8-7 start before COVID-19 cut the spring season short. The NJCAA is continuing to monitor the pandemic and current guidelines state the baseball program will only be allowed to practice this upcoming fall. RLC will honor all scholarships and is willing to work with any student-athletes interested in transferring due to coaching changes.
To learn more about the RLC Baseball Head Coach opening, or to apply, click here