T JUST 31 YEARS OF AGE, Manhattan College head baseball coach Kevin Leighton has become one of the hottest young coaches in NCAA Division I. His accomplishments speak volumes. Leighton recorded 166 wins in his first five seasons since taking over the reigns, and he ranks second alltime in career victories in Manhattan’s most historic athletic program, which is 144 years old. From day one, he began guiding the Jaspers to unprecedented heights. In his initial year at the helm, Leighton led the program to its first Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Championship in 2006 and first NCAA Tournament berth in 49 years. During his tutelage, Manhattan has won three MAAC Regular-Season Championships and advanced to the MAAC Tournament each year. Leighton has mentored 49 All-MAAC selections, three MAAC Pitchers of the Year, two MAAC Rookies of the Year and one MAAC Player of the Year. Eight of his student-athletes have gone on to play professionally, and two have made it onto a Major League roster. Most notably, Leighton has not compromised his beliefs in academic excellence for success on the diamond, which is evident with his long list of MAAC All-Academic Team selections, 48 to date. The successes have not come easy in Riverdale, but his work ethic,
ability to identity and develop talent and vast coaching knowledge has put Manhattan College on the map as one of the top baseball programs in the Northeast corridor. “Our progress over the years has hinged on our ability to recruit the right student-athletes to our program,” Leighton says. “Studentathletes who are the complete package, who get the job done in the classroom and on the playing field. Many of our achievements can also be attributed to our emphasis on recruiting student-athletes who come from winning high school programs, and who have previously experienced success in their careers. It gives them an edge over other talented players who reach this level.” The 2001 Seton Hall graduate, who earned a master’s degree in administration and leadership in education at Manhattan, credits much of his success as a head coach to his experience as an accomplished student-athlete in South Orange, N.J. He helped lead the Pirates to back-to-back NCAA Regional appearances (2000 and 2001) and the program’s first Big East Championship (2001) in 15 years. Mentored by long-time Pirates’ head coach Mike Sheppard, the winningest coach in Seton Hall baseball history (998 wins, 31 years), Leighton learned firsthand from one of the best to grace collegiate baseball. “Coach Sheppard prepared us for life,” Leighton says. “Not only did he teach us baseball, but, more impor-
MANHATTAN COLLEGE ATHLETICS
Leighton’s Leadership is a Homerun for Jaspers
Published on Dec 3, 2011
Published on Dec 3, 2011
SPRING A Day in the Life of the College 56 OBITS 22 A DAY IN THE LIFE MANHATTAN COLLEGE EDITORIAL Lydia Gray, Director of College Relations...