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Head Coach Jim Penders

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 victories, respectively.

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, respectively.

In July of 2003, Penders became just the fifth head coach in 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.
 

A 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 Series.

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 his honor.

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 Convention 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.
     His uncle Tom (left) and father
       Jim both played on the 1965
       College World Series team.

 


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