Florida National Tabs Former Wiley College Assistant Nick Strong as Head Baseball Coach

Former Wiley College pitching and hitting coach Nick Strong was recently hired as the next Florida National head baseball coach in sunny Miami, Florida. Once considered for the Huston-Tillotson baseball job a few months back, when that failed, Strong set his sights on the Florida National job.

While playing his college ball at Texas Southern University, Strong took to coaching collegiate student athletes in summer leagues. That opportunity led Strong to work summers with the Houston Banditos which is a highly ranked summer organization. In his short stint at Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, Strong was the pitching coach/recruiting coordinator for Wiley. There he was responsible for bringing in the largest recruiting class in Wiley College history with over 45 incoming student athletes.

Strong has been a proven leader in collegiate baseball. As a coach, he communicates well and connects with people. At previous stops such as University of Houston-Downtown where he led the Gators to its first conference title and its first ever regional appearance.

Strong is a tenacious recruiter. He communicates well and connects with people. I met Coach Strong while he was in the broadcast booth during last year’s Black College World Series, the site for the 2022 Black College World Series in Montgomery, AL.

Black College Nines caught up with head coach Nick Strong in Hialeah, Florida. This is what he had to say.

Black College Nines:

How did you hear about the opening at Florida National?

Head Coach Nick Strong:

After Wiley College decided to go in a new direction, I knew that I wanted to coach this spring. Florida National posted their job opening and I was all over it. I applied and just went through the procedure. I did my homework, knocked my interviews out of the park, and now I’m in South Florida.

Black College Nines:

What led you to Florida National and were there any ties from HBCU?

Head Coach Nick Strong:

Again… I previously worked at Wiley College as the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator this fall. I had the best experience there. I was able to recruit 45 kids for the fall of 2021. (Previously Wiley had not played since 2020 so the roster only returned five kids). Coach Biggs let me implement my pitching and defensive plans in the fall. We used a shift ready defense and pitching was phenomenal under structure. We had velocity gains and walks and hits we’re down. As the pitching coach, I was able to gain a lot of confidence in my defensive philosophies. I’m an HBCU graduate from Texas Southern, so it was an honor to work with a HBCU baseball program.

Black College Nines:

When we last talked, you were pretty confident going in that you would get the job. Now that you have it how are you going to run your program?

Head Coach Nick Strong:

I felt the interviews went well. I’ve had many coaching interviews in the past two years, I turned down jobs to go volunteer at Wiley.

The first thing I want to do is establish a great culture with the guys. Build trust and honor relationships. The locker room has to be right.

I then plan to access the team and hop into recruiting mode.

The junior college scene is really a hot area right now… afull scholarship program in South Florida, I do believe that we should be able to compete with any team in the NAIA Top 25.

Once we work on recruiting then we will get to promote the program in the community. Hialeah is a city that also supports Florida National. Who wouldn’t want to play in front of 500 fans each weekend? We have to win at home first, and I understand that.

Black College Nines:

South Florida has a hotbed of baseball talent when it comes to recruiting. What would be your approach to get kids to buy into your program and stay home?

Head Coach Nick Strong:

Just learning the landscape here in the area, but from what I’ve seen, I don’t think many kids want to leave Florida and go north to play in 40-degree weather.

I definitely have to build relationships with the high school coaches in the area and let them know about the FNU baseball team and all of the academic opportunities we have to offer. Take a look at this school. The job placement opportunities are through the roof. This school is doing big things.

I also plan on hosting showcase camps in the area so that I can show kids what the FNU way may look like.

We want kids to understand that experience you can get at FNU will be different… Education, Baseball, Community Service, Leadership.

Black College Nines:

What’s the difference between coaching and HBCU versus a non-HBCU?

Head Coach Nick Strong:

I think the main difference for me is the address of the school.

I am attacking FNU the same way I attack Wiley.

Pitching is pitching. Hitting is hitting.

We get so into names on jerseys we forget that the body in the jersey makes the team. In practice, we have to develop that body into the best player we can.

Black College Nines:

Coach, give us your final thoughts what are your plans to grow the program?

Head Coach Nick Strong:

Plans to grow the program would be implementing core values, graduating students, recruiting, promotion, community service, getting into the Continental Conference Tourney, and advancing to an NAIA regional soon. This is a marathon and I understand it takes time. I have faith in my Athletic Director Ryan Raposo to support us in getting these things done. He is really interested in making Florida National a national contender.  I’m definitely here for the ride.

 

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