Jonathan Stavinoha has been on the field at Riverside Stadium for four days.
But Stavinoha has already made an impression on the UHV players.
“The No. 1 thing is his intensity with the structure and the organization he brings with him,” said senior Ty Williams. “I think it’s going to pay dividends in the long run. The intensity and fire and his attention to the little details are what is going to carry this team and it’s really getting everyone to buy in that small things matter.”
Stavinoha replaced Terry Puhl as head baseball coach in July and has been working with most of the players during 6 a.m. offseason workouts he instituted.
But Stavinoha, a Columbus graduate who was an assistant coach at Texas A&M-Texarkana last season, was glad to get fall baseball practices under way in preparation for the 2023 season.
“Monday came around and we got to be out here as a team,” Stavinoha said. “I got to implement some of the stuff that I want to bring to them as a team. They’ve been very attentive. It kind of feels like we’re dragging along. But now, at the end of the week, we’re looking good.”
The Jaguars have a number of returnees who played their entire college career for Terry Puhl, who became the head coach when the UHV program started in 2008 and retired after last season.
But senior Zach Lee has no doubt the players will adapt to Stavinoha’s coaching style.
“It’s a lot of organized stuff, a lot of new stuff,” said Lee, an El Campo graduate. “It’s high energy. Young guys flying around picking up. Returners flying around picking up.”
Stavinoha welcomed 34 players to the first week of practice and hopes to have more out as fall ball continues until the Thanksgiving break.
UHV will play an intrasquad scrimmage Saturday, and has a scrimmage scheduled for Oct. 14 against Alvin Community College at Riverside Stadium.
“I want to get that team aspect of the game drawn up and have them really come together as a team,” Stavinoha said. “On top of that, just have them improve individually as well as team-wise.”
The Jaguars weren’t without a familiar face during the first week of practice, as pitching coach Doug Heinold has returned for his 16th season.
UHV will look to build on last season when it advanced to the championship game of the Red River Athletic Conference tournament.
“I think a lot of guys are carrying that confidence with them that we ended on such a high note,” Williams said. “I think it’s more important than people realize to end the year on a high note. I think it shows everyone in the conference that we’re competitive.”