Adam Neisius- Life before a Falcon
By Steven Martinez, senior
Adam Neisius is in his second year as the head baseball coach for Friends University. He took the job with the expectation from the athletic department to give the baseball program a 180-degree change from the year before he came.
The year before Neisius’ arrival, the baseball program had a record of 4-38. Friends University knew that a change was needed. Neisius was then hired to rebuild a baseball program that had reached rock bottom.
“I knew rebuilding a program would take time and be challenging,” said Neisius. “But it is something I have been a part of before, and with fortitude from the University, something that will happen. It will just take time, as all good things do.”
Neisius originally is a native of southern Colorado, where he played his first two years of college baseball in Grand Junction, Colo., at Mesa State College before transferring to Dakota Wesleyan University where he finished his undergraduate degree.
He received his bachelor of arts degree in behavioral sciences from DWU. Afterward, he would receive his master’s from the University of Northern Colorado in sports administration with an emphasis in coaching to conclude his education.
While working toward his master’s, Neisius signed a professional baseball contract with the Colorado Wolverines, a team affiliated within the Texas-Louisiana Independent Professional Baseball League.
Playing pro ball and working on a master’s at the same time was difficult, he said.
“However, I’m glad I did it, because one day you’re playing and the next you get released… but hey, I still had my education to fall back on.”
After a short two years, Neisius’ professional baseball career came to a halt after having career-ending shoulder surgery.
Originally, Neisius was not planning to become a head coach after his playing career concluded. His first plan as a career was to be an athletic director at a bigger, well-known college like New Mexico State.
His manager of the Wolverines sat down with Neisius one day after his rookie year and told him the ability to play will not always be there, and that he truly felt that one day Neisius could become a good coach.
After being released in October, he finished his master’s in December, and in January headed back to South Dakota to be the pitching coach for his old coach at Dakota Wesleyan University.
Neisius coached for a stipend of $750 a semester for a year and a half, before the head coach resigned and Neisius was offered his first head coaching job at the age 24.
The $12,000 salary as the head coach was not much of a step up from his pay as the assistant. However, Neisius had to make do, since this was now his choice of career.
“Once I got through the first year as the head coach, I knew this was what I wanted to do,” said Neisius. “I could grind through the little pay. I was young and dumb and said I don’t care, I can make it work. Never once did I think maybe I should look into another profession.”
After his third year as head coach, the University hired a new athletic director whose first duty was to get all the head coaches a real full-time salary with benefits. In hindsight, the grind paid off.
Neisius remained the head coach of the DWU Tigers for 10 years before moving along. Neisius currently remains the most winning coach in DWU history with a record of 263-202 overall.
The University of Nebraska at Kearney was where Neisius landed next. He was assistant coach for two years, coaching under a buddy of his. Their goal was to put together a team that had a shot for the College World Series Tournament. After not reaching that goal, Neisius moved on and took the head-coaching job at Friends University.
The No. 1 goal Neisius wants to accomplish as a college coach is to reach the World Series tournament with his team.
“I refuse to attend the College World Series Tourney unless my team and I are down on the field playing in it,” said Neisius.
Neisius credits his coaching personality to his first college coach at Mesa State.
The Mesa State coach was a hard-nosed coach who challenged players’ mindsets day in and day out. Neisius admits to not understanding his methods until he himself was in his first year as a head coach.
“Looking back, as a coach, he made our team so mentally strong and tough,” said Neisius. “Because he knew if we could handle the screaming and putting us down every day, that the adversity the game brings itself would be much easier endure, and he was right.”
In his first season as head coach of Friends, Neisius made a change from the previous year. The Falcons ended his first season with a record of 17-32-1, one game out from the KCAC playoff tournament. He felt that was not a terrible start to the restructuring of the program, but it still could have been better.
“Coach Neisius is very structured and in a way a perfectionist,” said Tyler Gunelson, assistant head coach. “I have learned so much under him in the last two years… in numerous situations I now know how to react as a hopeful head coach later in my career. His persistency towards coaching baseball is something I will always keep with me.”
Now in his second year, Neisius has a young team, consisting of mostly freshmen. While rebuilding this program, he has to start from the ground up, which may mean things will get worse before they become great. Currently they have a record of 12-33, which means for this team the only way to go from here is up, and Neisius has no other intentions than to take them in that direction.
The strong-minded coach despises failure and leaves no tolerance for error. He refuses to allow his young players to dwell on the fact that they are still young, and he wants to be sure his team is with him when he says they will not rely on excuses for their losses.
He loves to win and intends to get his team at Friends to do just that.
The Falcons’ next baseball game is at 1 p.m. today at Tabor College.