Head coach may be a new title for Jay Sirianni, but in a sense, he’s been preparing for this moment his whole life.

Sirianni, who was officially introduced as Sam Houston State’s 10th head baseball coach last week, grew up around the baseball diamond. His father, John, was the athletics director at Division III Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa for 28 years, spending two decades as the school’s head baseball coach.

“It’s a true honor to follow in his footsteps.” Sirianni said during his introductory press conference. “Growing up on a field and watching how all this has been done is really special to me.”

Growing up around the game, Sirianni watched how coaches managed their teams, and learned from the mistakes they made. He also recognized the life-long relationships his father was able to build through more than a quarter-century in college athletics, an aspect of coaching that has always appealed to him.

“It’s a little different scenario Division I versus Division III, but it’s still developing players and developing kids into men,” Sirianni siad. “Some of my dad’s best friends are his former players now that he’s retired. ... You kind of just learn how to get through and deal with situations. But the best part was I grew up on a field. I was a bat boy, I did it all. That was probably where I learned to throw BP too.”

Sirianni began his collegiate career at Texas A&M before transferring to Nebraska and ultimately signing with the Cleveland Indians organization. When his professional baseball career ended in 2001, he returned to Nebraska to graduate and turned to a trio of mentors for advice: his father, his uncle and Texas A&M head baseball coach Rob Childress, who was an assistant at Nebraska when he was there.

“A lot of people ask me who the three influences on my life are,” Sirianni said. “One is my dad, one is my uncle that retired as a lieutenant colonel from the marine corps and the other is Coach Childress, the head coach over at Texas A&M. When I got released from the Indians organization, I called all three. ...

“Coach Childress told me I was coaching, my dad told me I was coaching and my uncle said to go to officer school. (Going into the) military scared me, so that’s kind of how I ended up doing it.”

Over the past five years as Sam Houston State’s pitching coach and associate head coach, Sirianni was prepared for the moment that arrived late last month, when he got the call from athletics director Bobby Williams that confirmed he would be the Bearkats’ next head coach.

The coach credits his predecessor, Matt Deggs, for getting him ready to hit the ground running.

“He let me work, let me do my thing on the pitching side and most importantly, he challenged me to think like a head coach,” Sirianni said. “For five years, he’s been preparing me for this, and I can’t thank him enough.”

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Listen to our full conversation with Jay Sirianni at itemonline.com/pods