Former MIT assistant coach Kristaps Aldins has made the trip across Cambridge to join Harvard’s staff. Aldins followed helped MIT to a team-record 25 wins last season, but was ready to continue his career in Division I.
Two small stops on the Red Line, one giant leap for Harvard Baseball. That is what the Crimson is hoping for as it welcomes volunteer assistant coach Kristaps Aldins, previously a coach at MIT.
During his stay as a coach for the Engineers, the MIT baseball team set a program-record for wins in 2008 with 25 and reached the NEWMAC Championship Game for the first time in 2006.
As a player at Vassar College, Aldins had similar success. Aldins’ graduating class was the winningest group in school history.
Individually, Aldins led the way, setting seven single-season Brewer records as well as the career record for doubles. Harvard believes Aldins can bring his winning ways to this end of Cambridge.
“After two sub par seasons, he’ll help us win,” said sophomore pitcher and outfielder Brent Suter.
Crimson head coach Joe Walsh has known about Aldins for a while through the Harvard baseball camp and the close relationship between the Crimson and MIT baseball programs. For Walsh, Aldins was an easy choice.
“He’s a real go-getter, a young guy [with] a lot of enthusiasm,” Walsh said.
Interestingly enough, it was budget cuts in the athletic department that allowed the hiring to happen.
“We have always had a JV program,” Walsh said. “Recently JV moved to a club sport, which we think will be a good thing. JV had a coach, and we were always one man down. Now we are able to have a fourth spot. This is the first time we can add a third assistant.”
According to junior captain Tyler Albright, many of the Harvard players already had a relationship with Aldins, often because they looked at both Harvard and MIT. One of these players was Suter, who said his interactions with Aldins tempted him to play for the Engineers.
“[Aldins is] a great addition, a great guy [who] really knows how to translate his baseball knowledge,” Suter said. “He ran an outfield drill for us, and in one day, we got a ton better as an outfield. We were all talking about it afterwards.”
The close relationship between MIT and Harvard makes it so that Aldins’ departure was not one of bitterness.
“We stole him from MIT, but the schools have a very good relationship,” Walsh said.
Operating in separate divisions, the schools are more like collaborators than competitors. According to Walsh, he always alerts MIT coach Andy Barlow if, while recruiting, he comes across players who could be a good fit for the Engineers. Likewise, Walsh says, if the MIT coaches see someone heading for Division I, they tell Walsh and his staff.
“We can get out across the country and recruit, more than Division III,” Walsh said. “So if we go places and see people who would be a good fit for MIT, we let them know.”
Such cooperation is helpful for two academically-oriented schools competing with institutions with fewer restrictions.
“With the way recruiting spirals, the pace has picked up,” Walsh said. “We play some schools who are already getting commitments from 2011s—high school juniors.”
With an additional coach, the Crimson hopes the management of the all-consuming recruiting process will improve.
“[Aldins is] a great recruiter who will bring in great talent...in years to come,” Suter said.
Aldins reciprocates the feeling of excitement, saying that he jumped at the opportunity to coach for Harvard.
According to Aldins, taking the job was a “really easy decision.”
Having known Walsh and the Harvard staff well during his time at MIT, Aldins had been looking for the opportunity to coach for the Crimson. Aldins emphasized his excitement about the team’s talent, particularly on the pitching staff.
“[The team is] a great group of guys [who have been] very welcoming,” Aldins said.
To improve his coaching ability, Aldins has been working toward a master’s degree in Sports Leadership at Northeastern.
“Coaching is something I want to continue and do for a living,” Aldins said. “I think the program is going to help me become a better coach, and having a master’s degree will help me in the future.”