Assistant Coach Justin Blood
Justin Blood is in his third season as an assistant
coach at UConn. He spent the summer of 2005 as the pitching coach
for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox of the Cape Cod League before
joining the University of Connecticut baseball program in August.
Blood, a former professional baseball player, is the pitching coach
and recruiting coordinator for the Huskies.
Under Blood’s direction, the UConn pitching staff
posted a 3.47 earned run average in 2006, its lowest since the 1989
season. The Huskies’ team ERA was good for second in the BIG EAST
and 17th in the nation. At the conclusion of the season, Tim Norton
and Nick Tucci were named to the All-BIG EAST First Team. In fact,
Norton, Tucci and John Slusarz were each taken in the Major League
Baseball Draft in early June.
“Justin is an excellent communicator,” said Penders.
“His professional experience, work ethic and organizational skills
are true assets to our program.”
Blood was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in 2001 and
excelled in the minor leagues before retiring to pursue coaching on
the collegiate level. Upon retirement, Blood had accumulated a 3.97
ERA in 82 games as a minor league player with a 7-4 record. He
helped to lead the Inland Empire 66ers to the California League
Class A title in 2003, posting a 5-2 record with two saves and a
3.07 ERA with 77 strikeouts and just 27 walks in 58.2 innings out of
The New Hampshire native joined the coaching staff at
Quinnipiac University in 2003, serving as a volunteer coach. In
2004, he returned to his alma mater, Franklin Pierce College, to
complete his degree and work as the baseball team’s student
assistant. Prior to assisting, Blood played three years for Franklin
Pierce before being drafted. He ranks among career leaders at the
college with 235 strikeouts (second), 12 wins (fourth) and a 4.62
ERA (seventh) in 204.2 innings (fourth) over 38 appearances (third)
with 12 complete games (fourth). In 2001, he struck out a
program-record 20 New Hampshire College batters, which still ranks
fifth in NCAA Division II single-game history.
the former Hannah Walters in September 2006. The couple resides in
Assistant Coach Christopher Podeszwa
Chris Podeszwa enters his fifth season as an assistant coach at the
University of Connecticut. Podeszwa’s focus is primarily on the
instruction of infielders and hitters.
After graduating from UConn in 1993, Podeszwa served as an envoy
coach for Major League Baseball International in New York and
Europe. His responsibilities included preparing the German Junior
National Team for the European Championships and organizing and
developing coordinated clinics for youth players and coaches.
"Dez is a full-time teacher and there
is nobody that works harder than he does," said Penders. "His energy
is contagious and his contribution to our success is immeasurable."
In 1995, Podeszwa moved to Sweden to become the head coach of the
Skelleftea Bears Baseball Club in Skelleftea, Sweden. His stay in
Scandinavia was highlighted by his U-19 team capturing the Swedish
In 1996, Podeszwa was hired as the assistant baseball coach at
Mitchell College in New London, Conn., and in 1998, he became the
assistant baseball coach for the University of Connecticut’s Avery
Point branch under head coach Roger Bidwell. At Avery Point,
Podeszwa helped lead his squads to the NJCAA Region XXI Championship
in 1999 and 2000. Avery Point also captured the Northeast Region
Championship in 1999 and earned a trip to the NJCAA Division II
In between summer evaluation and recruiting assignments for the
Huskies, Podeszwa continues to serve as a part-time assistant
baseball coach for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox of the Cape Cod
Baseball League, who won the league championship in 2004, 2006 and
Since 1997, he has assisted in the recruitment of players nationwide
and is the coordinator of defensive strategies.
Podeszwa played at UConn from 1990-93. He was part of the 1990 BIG
EAST Championship club and played every position for the Huskies
except center field. He and Penders were teammates at UConn for two
is married to UConn alum, Isabella Basile, and the couple has
three children, Sophia, Connor and Emilia. The Podeszwa's reside in