Mark Wasikowski was an assistant coach at Arizona when he first recruited Jack Marder as a catcher out of Calabasas, Calif.
Marder turned down the Wildcats for Oregon where he played two seasons and later returned to begin his coaching career on a staff that included Wasikowski, an assistant at UO from 2012-16.
In the past three years, Wasikowski has recruited Marder twice as an assistant coach and landed him both times, including a reunion with the Ducks.
“I knew Jack was my first hire,” said Wasikowski, who was named head coach at Oregon in June. “He was the first guy I hired at Purdue. He’s that good.”
Marder transitioned from player to coach in 2015 as an undergraduate assistant at Oregon with Wasikowski, who left the Ducks to become head coach at Purdue in 2017 and took Marder with him as a volunteer assistant. The following year, Marder got a full-time job at Stanford and spent two seasons with the Cardinal, which was ranked in the Top-10 for most of last season.
“I woke up every Saturday morning in football season and Oregon was the one game I was watching,” Marder said. “Even though I was coaching at Stanford and we were trying to win a Pac-12 title, I certainly wanted Oregon to be at the top as well. When Waz called and said there was an opportunity to come back home, that’s what I’ve been searching for. That’s why I went to Stanford, to give myself an opportunity to get in this conference and earn the right to come back.”
Marder was a catcher and infielder who batted .232 with seven homers and 52 RBIs in 102 games for the Ducks in 2010-11 before being selected by Seattle in the 16th round as a draft-eligible sophomore. He played four years in the minor-leagues before returning to Oregon to begin his coaching career under George Horton and finish up his degree.
“I have always wanted to stay in baseball as long as possible, so the minute I was done playing, it was ‘What’s the next best way to stay in the game?’,” Marder said. “I was really in shock, to be honest, when I wasn’t able to play, but coming back to work with those guys and learn from them, I thought ‘Man, I’m playing with house money’. The minute I got here as a coach, I knew this was what I wanted to do.”
The 29-year old Marder is joined on Wasikowski’s staff by pitching coach Jake Angier, a 34-year old who spent the past six seasons as an assistant at Sacramento State.
“I didn’t know (Wasikowski), so it was really the old-fashioned way of getting a job,” Angier said. “I went through the interview process and he was pretty diligent about making calls to get references.”
The most meaningful call Wasikowski made was to UCLA coach John Savage, whose Top-10 team totaled nine runs against the Hornets in a three-game series early last season.
“Savage told me that Jake’s pitching staff was the toughest to compete against,” Wasikowski said. “His guys were trained, prepared, confident and had a plan so that checked the on-field box. Then I made sure of the off-the-field things like recruiting and rules and his awareness of what he was getting into. This is a lifestyle so I needed to make sure he was good with all that.”
Wasikowski, Marder and Angier spent most of the first two months after being hired on the road recruiting before returning to get Oregon ready to begin fall practice on Sept. 15.
“I have not spent much time in Eugene other than official visits with the guys we have been recruiting,” said Angier, a native of Bellevue, Wash. who played and began his coaching career at South Dakota State. “I have some contacts in the Northwest from growing up here, but getting the lay of the land and getting names of players and following them around has been good. We did an all-out blitz to get as many names as we could and start building our lists for 2021, 2022, and 2023 so we have a plan of attack moving forward.”
Marder signed to play at Oregon during the first season Horton brought baseball back to the school.
“We are not going to miss on the work ethic side, nobody is out recruiting more than us,” Marder said. “A place like Oregon should be getting the best recruits in the country, but for that to happen we have to establish a foundation that will be blue-collar in how we go about recruiting.”
Marder saw fertile recruiting ground in Oregon while at Stanford where West Linn’s Will Matthiessen and Tim Tawa were among the top players last season.
“If there are more guys like that roaming around here, I plan on Oregon getting them,” Marder said. “From the standpoint of feeling like this place is home for them, they will have someone in me that has been through that.”
Marder left a national-title contender at Stanford to try and get the Ducks back to that level after missing the postseason during four consecutive years.
“It was extremely tough for me to leave because I had a great experience at Stanford and was giving everything I’ve got to that program,” Marder said. “But when it comes down to where you played, a place you have unbelievable pride in, it is hard to turn down that opportunity as well.”
Angier did not have a similar familiarity with the university, but found his own reason for joining the Ducks.
“I was looking for an opportunity where I had a chance to go win a national championship,” he said. “Oregon has the resources to put together a roster where you can do that.”
Follow Steve Mims on Twitter @SteveMims_RG or email at email@example.com. For more Oregon sports coverage, visit DuckSports.com