MASON CITY | NIACC head baseball coach Travis Hergert knew he was going to need a little extra help this season.
“As the head coach, I am the pitching coach, however I’m coaching 16 pitchers, but 38 total players,” Hergert said. “I wanted to bring a guy with a pitching background and training base background with the scientific side as well.”
Through Driveline and Brownlee baseball connections, Hergert found Connor Faix, a 22-year-old pitching assistant at Oberlin College in Ohio, a division III NCAA program.
Faix graduated from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, with a degree in finance. He was a pitcher on the baseball team for two years, then spent his remaining years training by himself, hoping to go pro.
But Faix experienced pain in his elbow, and after a while, it was too much to overcome. The learning process, though, was valuable.
“In trying to learn to get more physical and make my elbow stop hurting, I learned a lot of intricacies on learning to throw hard.” Faix said.
Faix decided to use that knowledge to help others with dreams like his. Coaching was where his heart was, but with a finance degree in his pocket and a job offer on the table, the move was a bold one.
“My family had an equal mix of concern and excitement because they have known for many years that this is the stuff that really gets me energized,” Faix said. “Once I was able to prove to them that I could quickly get to a place like NIACC, they seemed to worry a lot less than I thought they would.”
Faix was a volunteer coach at Oberlin College for a few months before finding his job at NIACC. He said that while the experience was valuable, he’d rather work at the junior college level.
“I have a ton of respect for the urgency that these kids have to come in and quickly develop so they can move on,” Faix said. “Coach Hergert was a guy that I knew I wanted to reach out to more so just to learn about JUCO baseball. And just to get to know him in order to make a relationship and get some guidance.”
As a young coach, Faix believes in being more relatable to players and bringing out their motivation to get better. He says that if they aren’t buying into his fresh ideas, then he’s not doing the job right.
Herbert also sees young coaches as advantageous, given his own history.
“Big thing for him is learning the game day management, situational management, daily preparation for our guys, training base portion of it,” Hergert said. “He relates to the players, that’s always a talent. When I started this at NIACC I was 24, that can be challenging but it could be a strength.”