Former San Diego Padres scout joins the Tigers baseball coaching staff
With more than 25 years of collegiate coaching experience, Russ McNickle was named the new associate head coach and pitchers/catchers coach for the Tigers in July 2013.
"We're thrilled to have somebody with Russ' experience join our staff," said head coach Daron Schoenrock. "He's been a head coach and a pitching coach at the highest level. He's been to the College World Series twice. It's been a privilege to hire somebody who I have served on a staff with previously. Our pitchers and catchers will be in great hands with him on our staff. Russ is familiar with our system and we welcome Russ, Robin, Jordan and Trey to the Tiger family."
Included in his 25 years at the collegiate ranks, McNickle has spent seven years as a head coach. A five-year tenure at Saint Leo University (Division II) and Meridan Community College (NJCAA) comprise McNickle's head coaching experience. McNickle stepped down from Saint Leo after the 2012 season to pursue a scouting job with the San Diego Padres, which he has held since.
At Saint Leo, McNickle recruited and developed three Sunshine State Conference Freshmen of the Year over a four-year period. Prior to his tenure at Saint Leo, McNickle was the pitching coach at Mississippi State from 2005-08, helping the Bulldogs to a SEC Tournament title in 2005 and the 2007 College World Series. McNickle began at Mississippi State in 2002 and crossed paths with Coach Schoenrock in the 2002-04 seasons. Schoenrock was the pitching coach for the Bulldogs while McNickle oversaw the catchers and hitters.
The Mobile, Ala., native began his coaching career as a graduate assistant coach on Ron Polk's staff at Mississippi State University in 1989 and 1990. The Bulldogs advanced to NCAA tournament competition both seasons, claiming the 1989 SEC regular season title. In 1990, the Bulldogs won a share of the SEC Tournament championship before advancing to the NCAA College World Series in Omaha.
McNickle coached the next 10 seasons in the Sunshine State. He coached pitchers and catchers during a two-year stint (1991-92) as an assistant to Dr. Roger Martinsen at Central Florida Community College in Ocala, Fla. In 1993 he joined the staff of ABCA Hall of Famer Chuck Anderson as an assistant coach at Florida Southern College. During a six-year term (1993-1998) at the NCAA Division II school in Lakeland, Fla., McNickle helped direct the Moccasins to a 265-84 mark, five NCAA postseason appearances, three Sunshine State Conference titles and a pair of berths in the NCAA Division II College World Series. Florida Southern won the national title at the 1995 CWS in Montgomery, Ala., after claiming runner-up honors in 1994. Fifteen FSC players earned All-American status, two earned ABCA National Player of the Year honors, and 28 players were selected in the Major League Baseball draft.
His coaching career continued at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Fla., the next two seasons (1999-2000), where he served as pitching coach and top assistant under coach Eddie Cardieri. Following the 2000 campaign, McNickle returned to Mississippi, this time as head coach at Meridian Community College. His 2001 MCC Eagles club posted a 38-16 record and claimed the Miss-Lou Conference championship.
McNickle's resume also includes past summer collegiate baseball league coaching stints in both the Cape Cod League and the Valley Baseball League. He's also made numerous appearances at clinics and summer baseball camps.
A catcher by trade, McNickle earned all-state honors during his prep baseball career at Mobile Christian High School. He continued his playing career at Patrick Henry State Junior College in Monroeville, Ala., in 1984 and 1985 before earning his bachelor's degree at the University of South Alabama in 1988.
He is married to the former Robin Elliott of Houma, La., and the couple has a son, Trey, and daughter, Jordan. Trey is currently a junior pitcher at South Carolina.