Stratchko named new baseball coach of St. Mary's College of Maryland
By TAMMY SHOWALTER firstname.lastname@example.org
Jun 10, 2016
Bernie Stratchko is moving on from his assistant baseball coaching and recruiting position at Frostburg State University to come back home.
Stratchko, a La Plata native and 2002 McDonough High School graduate, was named head baseball coach at St. Mary's College of Maryland, taking over for Lew Jenkins, who retired last month after 22 years as frontman.
Stratchko, will begins his baseball coaching duties in mid-August, said the interview process went well and he's excited about the opportunity.
"It was a kind of hectic because we were still finishing the season [at Frostburg State]," Stratchko said of the interview process. "In fact, I had an interview right before we found out we were going to regionals, so it was a rollercoaster kinda, going home and then heading back up to get ready to go to New York. It was great though. I didn't have to wait because we were busy playing so there wasn't any time for anxious waiting.
"It was nice because I was home with my family for my niece's baptism and so they were all there when I was told. It was pretty exciting because my family has always wanted me to have this opportunity. For most people, coaching baseball is a dream job and to get to do that where I grew up is kinda special."
Stratchko played third base for McDonough and was a first-team All-Southern Maryland Athletic Conference member his senior year. He then went to play at the College of Southern Maryland and later transferred to the University of Maryland Eastern Shore where he also played infield.
Stratchko has also spent years coaching American Legion baseball for Chaney Enterprises from 2010 to 2012. His exposure to local talent has enabled him to recruit some of the best talent in Southern Maryland.
He continued his education at Frostburg State and became a graduate assistant coach in 2011 and later a recruiting assistant coach. Among his recruits were La Plata pitcher Anderson Burgess, North Point catcher Zach Keeler, North Point pitcher Nick Huff and North Point infielder Jeremy Remalia, all of whom graduated from Frostburg this year.
Keeler was just named the Capital Athletic Conference senior scholar athlete of the year and was honored as an academic All-American for the second consecutive season.
"It was just time for me to move up and begin a new challenge," Stratchko said. "The five years at Frostburg have been great and we've achieved a lot of things but it was time to start looking for my own opportunities.
"I knew Lew [Jenkins] from my time coaching at Chaney and from him being in the same conference as us. He's an awesome guy. He does everything the right way. I'd spent some time with him when we were out recruiting together. He's a good guy and I told him I'd have no problem with him staying around."
Frostburg State head coach Guy Robertson said, "Any time a guy just starting out that has had a solid career and a good background coaching high school players at the Legion level, he knew what a good college player looked like. He got out there and got a feel for recruiting and it was something that he embraced and he enjoyed going out and identifying talent and he matured in the recruiting process and was never afraid to go and communicate with parents, coaches and players face to face and really sell our program. He brought a lot of energy and enthusiasm to that process and I think that is infectious and that rubs off on players and gave prospective athletes a look at what our program was all about.
He became quite good at that and he certainly helped in the development of our guys as they came in as freshman.
Stratchko said he's determined to set goals for the team.
"I want to bring St. Mary's back into the mix for the CAC tournament," he said. "We've missed out the last few years and I think it's very important that this program is in the tournament every year, but as far as what I'd want to instill in the team is a winning mentality. We have to make sure the culture is moving in the right direction to allow us to do those things. I think from meeting some of the players, they want the same treatment that some of the teams at the top get."
Seven of Stratchko's players from his Chaney teams followed him to Frostburg State and he hopes to make that same impact from a recruiting standpoint.
"I think there's a lot of great talent in Southern Maryland and so I did a lot of recruiting there as well as on the Eastern Shore and I think that experience will help," he said. "There are great players that are St. Mary's caliber students down here. I haven't been able to get into the recruiting stage just yet."
Robertson said he has no doubt that Stratchko will do well at the collegiate level.
"His goal was always to coach collegiately and we kinda worked through the process," Robertson said. "We started to see the light at the end of the tunnel I guess and we had conversations about it all along. I think it was always something he was looking toward.
"There's only a few of these opportunities out there to be a head coach at the collegiate level. It's a pretty competitive market and you have to go when opportunity knocks and it happened to knock in his home area and in a program that he now gets to put his thumbprint on and rebuild in a highly competitive conference and I know he's looking forward to the challenge."
Stratchko said he may move to St. Mary's County and cut down on some travel time. Ultimately, he wants to be as close to the college as possible to lead the team down a successful path.