Despite being a younger coach in comparison to many within his field in “baseball years”, Blaine Brown is as mature and experience as they come. After an extensive career as an assistant coach between the Division I, II, and NAIA levels and serving as a talent scout for various levels throughout his career, the second-year head coach is setting a fantastic foundation while enjoying successes along the way.
In his first season manning the top step, Brown led the Tornado to a 30-win season and a postseason berth in just their first season as a member of Conference Carolinas and NCAA Division II. Led by a three-headed monster pitching staff that finished 22-14 in 39 starts and posted 10 complete games, King went on to win five of their last six games against the top two teams in their division, qualifying them for the Conference Carolinas Tournament. Not only did the Tornado make the tournament, but won their first postseason game in a 9-4 decision against Pfeiffer University.
The 2012 squad finished in the top-3 as a team in multiple offensive categories including runs scored (3rd), triples (1st), home runs (2nd), runs batted in (3rd), stolen bases (t-3rd), batting average (3rd), and slugging percentage (3rd). That offense helped King break into the league with a monster 22-3 win over Barton College in its first Conference Carolinas contest in the program’s history and was one of two 20-plus run games of the season.
Brown and the Tornado were rewarded for their successes in 2012 when three members of the team were named to the Conference Carolinas All-Conference Team and were awarded the Messick Sportsmanship Award by the conference. The Tornado helped King achieve the most student-athletes named to the 2011-12 Presidential Honor Roll, 190, by leading all teams with 19 recipients. Bryant Walker achieved one of the highest academic honors when he was named a Capital One Academic All-American, presented by CoSIDA.
While an assistant with the Tornado from 2009-11, he helped construct a team that made two NCCAA World Series appearances and was one win away from the championship game in 2011. Brown was responsible for hitting and defense while overseeing the catchers and infielders of a Tornado team that finished with a 30-16 overall record in 2010 and ended the year ranked fifth in the country by the NCCAA. That year, King was ranked eighth in NCAA Division II in stolen bases, 18th in stolen bases per game, and ninth in defensive fielding percentage. Brown reloaded the Tornado lineup in 2010 with one of the largest recruiting classes in the country, topping out at 32 players representing eight states. That class produced eight All-Mid-East Region players and one All-American between 2010 and 2011.
Prior to joining the Tornado, Brown was an assistant coach with the University of Maryland from 2005-2009. He helped 10 Terrapins sign Major League Baseball contracts, including current MLB players Brett Cecil (Toronto Blue Jays) and Justin Maxwell (New York Yankees). His 2008 squad was the second Terrapin team in school history to hit the 30-win plateau and made an appearance in Baseball America’s top-30 rankings that season. That season, Maryland finished second in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and set a school record in fielding percentage (.975).
Brown’s involvement with top-tiered baseball programs began when he served as the top assistant coach at Slippery Rock University (Pa.), a perennial top-25 NCAA Division II program. In two seasons (2004-05) with The Rock, he helped his teams to a NCAA regional berth and averaged 30 wins per season. Three of his recruits went on to earn NCAA All-Region honors and 10 played their way to All-PSAC honors.
From 2004-06, he was the head coach of the New Market Rebels (Va.) of the Valley Baseball League (VBL). Eighteen players signed professional contracts and an unprecedented franchise turnaround after he inherited the team mid-way through the 2004 season. Brown took the helm of a 6-20 team and led the Rebels to a 16-4 record in their final 20 games of the season en route to a playoff berth. Over the next two seasons his teams amassed a combined 65-35 record. In 2006, the team recorded 34 wins to set a new franchise record and won its first pennant in 26 years. They were ranked as high as 13th for collegiate summer league teams, the first such ranking in team history.
Brown began his coaching career at Drexel University (NCAA Division I) in 2002. In just one season, he helped the team improve in its play behind the dish and in the outfield while accomplishing many of the behind-the-scenes tasks to help Dragon Baseball earn its fifth-best record in school history.
He spent the summer of 2003 in Sao Paulo, Brazil working for Major League Baseball as an International Envoy to help develop and scout talent at the high school and semi-pro levels. He also assisted the Brazilian Junior National team in their quest for the 2003 World Championships.
A native of Richmond, Kan., Brown was a four-year letterman at the University of Saint Mary (NAIA) as a catcher for the Spires from 1998-2002. During his tenure at Saint Mary he was a two-time All-Conference and All-Region honoree. In 2002, he was named to the NAIA All-American and Academic All-American teams after establishing himself in the top-10 of multiple offensive categories that still stand today. In 2009, Brown was inducted into the Saint Mary Athletics Hall of Fame. He graduated from Saint Mary’s with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting in 2002.
In just one season the effects of Luke Howard’s teachings to the King Tornado pitching staff have become evident after the Scarlet and Navy achieved 30 wins and advanced to the conference postseason tournament, largely behind the Tornado’s arms. Howard begins his second season with King serving as the team’s pitching coach and recruiting coordinator.
Despite the loss of the team’s ace from 2011, Howard helped mold a three-armed machine that accounted for 22 of the team’s 30 wins last season. He helped Cory Rhoades become the Tornado’s No. 1 hurler, leading the team in wins (9), earned run average (3.09), and strikeouts (74) en route to achieving All-Conference honors. Rhodes was second in the conference in overall wins and third in strikeouts while posting numbers across the board that were personal improvements for the sophomore. Howard also groomed lefty Reiss Stanley into a full-time starter while turning Wes Houser into a threat from the bump at any point in the game with his seven wins, two saves, and three complete games while leading the team and finishing second in the league in innings pitched (98.0).
Prior to coming to King, Howard spent the last three seasons at NCAA Division II affiliate Ouachita Baptist University (Ark.) of the Gulf South Conference. While at Ouachita, Howard coached two pitchers to All-Conference honors, while overseeing one Player of the Year and All-Region player. In his three years at Ouachita, four players went on to sign professional contracts, including left-handed pitcher Kolby Moore who signed with the River City Rascals in the summer of 2011. In his first season with OBU, Howard helped the team to a 37-20 overall record, including a 23-5 mark at home, and housed a 10-game winner on the team’s starting pitching rotation.
After spending a season as an assistant coach at his high school alma mater, Springboro (OH), Howard began his collegiate coaching career at the University of Cincinnati during the 2006-2007 season. After one season he moved on to fellow Division I affiliate Murray State University for the 2007-2008 campaign. During his time at Cincinnati and Murray State, Howard coached nine players who went on to play professional baseball. At UC, Howard coached the Bearcats’ winningest pitcher in program history and Minnesota Twins 2008 MLB Draft seventh round selection, Dan Osterbrock.
Howard began his collegiate playing career as a pitcher at Purdue University (2000-03) before transferring to Ohio University (2003-05), where he finished his career. While at Ohio, Howard earned his bachelor’s degree in marketing and sociology. He completed his master’s degree in leadership from Fort Hays State University in August 2012.
A native of Springboro, Ohio, Howard is married to the former Annie Brumback and has one son, Drew Engel Howard (1).
Jake Cockerham is entering his third season as an assistant coach for the Tornado baseball program. His primary responsibilities include assisting in scouting and recruiting while serving as the team’s hitting coach.
Cockerham helped build a lineup that in 2012 finished in the top-3 as a team in multiple offensive categories including runs scored (3rd), triples (1st), home runs (2nd), runs batted in (3rd), stolen bases (t-3rd), batting average (3rd), and slugging percentage (3rd). That offense helped King break into the league with a monster 22-3 win over Barton College in its first Conference Carolinas contest in the program’s history and was one of two 20-plus run games of the season.
Two position players earned Conference Carolinas All-Conference Second Team honors in 2012 after Stephen Mullins and Tyler Gaby had breakout seasons in their first wearing a King uniform. Dating back to the 2009-10 season, Cockerham began his coaching career on a high note when he helped the Tornado to a NCCAA World Series appearance where they were one win away from the championship game.
The following season, the Cincinnati, Ohio native took a head coaching position with Patrick Henry High School in Glade Spring, Va. where he took the Rebels to a second place finish in the A Hogoheegee District with a three-game swing from the previous year’s finish. The Rebels advanced to the district tournament and earned a bid to regionals with continued success. That season, Cockerham had four players named to the All-District and two more named to the All-Region Team prior to his return to King.
Cockerham began playing his collegiate baseball at the Miami University Hamilton where he spent two seasons with the Harriers. He set school records in single-season hits (71) and runs scored (54) in 2006 before transferring to King, where he was a three-year member of the varsity squad.
In addition to his current coaching duties with the Tornado, Cockerham is the head coach of a 17U summer league baseball team, the Anderson Heat, located in his hometown of Cincinnati. He also coaches the Cheviot Patriots of the Southern Ohio Valley Collegiate League (SOVCL) in the Cincinnati area. The team celebrated its 100th season of existence (1912-2012) with a fantastic playoff run to earn a league championship after finishing 19-11 overall and 11-5 in the SOVCL.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in sport management from King in 2009 and currently resides in Meadowview, Va.
Adding to the compliment of coaches that has helped King Baseball enjoy top-notch offenses that have led to 30-win seasons, championship contention, and postseason appearance over the last three seasons is George Laoo. Laoo enters his fourth season as an assistant coach with the Tornado.
In his first two seasons with the Tornado, Laoo helped construct a lineup that stormed into consecutive NCCAA World Series from 2010-11. In 2011, King was one win away from competing the NCCAA National Championship after going deep into the postseason.
They followed up that season with a 30-win showing in 2012 during their first year of play in Conference Carolinas and as a full member of NCAA Division II. The Tornado won five of their last six games against the top two teams in their division to propel them into the Conference Carolinas Tournament where they won their first tournament game against Pfeiffer University.
Three players were named to the All-Conference Team in 2012 supporting an offense that finished in the top-3 in the conference in runs scored, triples, home runs, runs batted in, stolen bases, batting average, and slugging percentage. Cory Rhodes led the pitching staff in his All-Conference bid with a 9-2 overall record and finished second in the league with 74 strikeouts in 84.1 innings pitched. That year, the Tornado also earned the Messick Sportsmanship Award, which would be just one a many accolades part of Laoo’s trophy case.
In addition to his duties with the Tornado of King College, Laoo also is an assistant coach for the Tennessee Tornado summer collegiate squad, a southern baseball league located in the Carolinas. The team, based out of Johnson City, Tenn., won the SCBL Championship in 2009 and during Laoo’s time with the team has sent three players on to play professional baseball.
Laoo is a full-time teach at Haynesfield Elementary (Bristol, Tenn.) and was recognized as the one of the district’s top teachers in 2012. The sixth grade math teacher was named 2012 Teacher of the Year at Haynesfield Elementary. Shortly after, he was donned the honor of being the 2012 Teacher of the Year for system elementary teachers and to top it off, was named 2012 Rotary Teacher of the Year.
The Abingdon, Va. native is a 2000 graduate from Emory & Henry College with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science. He earned his master’s degree from East Tennessee State University in teaching in 2008. He played collegiately for Virginia Intermont College from 1995-1997 before transferring to Emory & Henry where he completed his career.
Laoo and his wife Jane live in Bristol (TN) with their two boys, Zion (11) and Killian (6).