Jim Penders has been associated with the University
of Connecticut baseball program as a student-athlete, an assistant
coach and now head coach, working with the Huskies in 16 of the last
18 seasons. In 2008, he begins his fifth season at the helm of the UConn baseball program.
Last season, Penders guided the Huskies to the BIG EAST
Championship game after battling their way through the BIG EAST
Tournament by upsetting three higher seeded teams. UConn’s
appearance in the title game as the eighth-seed marked the lowest
seed in BIG EAST Tournament history to reach the final game. In
addition, Penders guided the Huskies to their third straight 30-win
season as his 2006 and 2007 squads ended the year with 34 and 39
Penders guided the Huskies to
the most wins in a season in program history with 39 en route to
being named BIG EAST and New England Intercollegiate Baseball
Association Coach of the Year. After a preseason prediction to
finish ninth in the league, Penders led the Huskies to a second
place finish in the BIG EAST while being named NEIBA Team of the
Year at the conclusion of the season. In fact,
Penders guided the Huskies to their third straight 30-win season as
his 2006 and 2007 squads ended the year with 34 and 39 victories,
In July of 2003, Penders became just the fifth head
the program’s history since 1924 joining Sumner Dole
(1924-35), J.O. Christian (1936-61), Larry Panciera (1962-79) and
Andy Baylock (1980-2003).
Penders was an assistant coach for the Huskies for seven years from
1997-2003 as UConn posted winning seasons in each of those
campaigns. As an assistant coach, Penders coordinated the Huskies
recruiting of student-athletes, served as a hitting coach and worked
with the catchers and outfielders.
standout on the baseball field for Connecticut during his
undergraduate career, Penders was a four-year letterwinner as a
Husky. He was co-captain of the 1994 UConn squad that won the BIG
EAST Conference tournament, and the Huskies advanced to the NCAA
Championship in both his junior and senior years. He hit .354 with
seven home runs and 46 runs batted in as a senior in 1994. He earned
First Team All-Northeast, All-New England and All-BIG EAST in his
senior year as a catcher. During his UConn career, the Huskies
played in the championship game of the BIG EAST Tournament three
times. Penders helped the Huskies to 99 wins over his four seasons,
including a 30-18 record in 1994. He also excelled in the classroom
as a three-time BIG EAST Academic All-Star.
Penders was a four-year member of the UConn Captains’ Council and
served as that group’s president during his senior year. Penders
graduated from UConn in 1994 with a degree in political science and
added a master’s degree from UConn in 1998 from the School of
Education. Penders worked in Washington, D.C., from 1994-96 as a
political fund raiser for U.S. Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa.
Penders returned to UConn for the 1997 season as a graduate
assistant baseball coach and became a full-time assistant coach for
the 1999 season. He also founded and directs the Connecticut
Baseball School, an overnight camp for boys held at UConn. The
popular camp holds sessions during the summer and winter vacation
periods, along with a one-day fall session and a father-son one day
camp in June.
The connection between the Penders family and UConn athletics runs
deep. Penders’ father, Jim, and uncle, Tom, both graduated from
UConn and played on the Huskies’ 1965 College World Series team. Jim
is a 1966 UConn graduate and has been the baseball coach at East
Catholic High School since 1969, where he coached his three sons. He
was an infielder for the Huskies and had a career batting average of
.279, including a .323 mark his senior year. He was a captain of the
’65 squad and the only player to hit over .300 for the Huskies that
season. Jim has won four Connecticut high school state championships
at East Catholic and was named the national high school coach of the
year in 1996.
Tom, a 1967 UConn graduate, was the head men’s basketball coach at
Tufts (1971-74), Columbia (1974-78), Fordham (1978-86), Rhode Island
(1986-88), Texas (1988-98) and George Washington (1998-2000). He
currently is the head coach at the University of Houston. Tom was a
two-sport star at UConn in baseball and basketball as he played in
two NCAA tournaments (1965 and 1967) and the 1965 College World
Penders’ extended family also includes a prominent former Husky. His
former classmate, teammate, battery-mate and 1994 Lawrence R.
Panciera Most Valuable Player, Aaron Quinn, is now his
brother-in-law. Quinn pitched for the Huskies from 1991-94 and
married Penders’ sister-in-law, Courtney in 1999.
Penders’ younger brother Rob is the head coach of Division II St.
Edward’s University of Austin, Texas. His grandfather Jim was the
longtime baseball coach at Stratford (Conn.) High School from
1931-68 and won four state championships, a record matched by
Penders’ father at East Catholic. He was also the head of the
physical education department and the town’s recreation director.
The Stratford High School baseball and football complex is named in
Penders is also actively involved with several baseball clinics around
the globe. In 2004, he was the featured catching clinician at the
ABCA National Convention in Nashville, Tenn. Penders has also spent
several years working at the World Baseball
in Uncasville, Conn., and the Be The Best You Are Clinic in Cherry
Hill, N.J. In addition, Penders conducted a clinic in Regensburg,
Germany tailored for German baseball coaches for the International
Sports Group/Major League Baseball International. He recently
contributed a chapter in the newly published book, Gold Glove
Baseball, in which he dissects catching techniques.
In January of 2008, he ventured overseas again to instruct Swedish
coaches of an international sports group.
A native of Vernon, Conn., Penders was an all-state performer in
baseball at East Catholic High School and served as his senior class
president. Penders and his wife, Brooke, reside in Old Wethersfield,
Conn. and have three children – a daughter, Tess, born May 9, 2001,
and sons, James Henry “Hank”, born June 2, 2003 and Charles Edward
"Charlie", born November 12, 2007.
New UConn baseball coach Jim
Penders has deep Husky roots.
uncle Tom (left) and father
Jim both played on the 1965