July 28, 2006
Scott Lawler – considered one of the top young coaches in the nation and a product of an impressive baseball pedigree – has been named the Notre Dame baseball program’s primary assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, as announced today by first-year Irish head coach Dave Schrage. Lawler already is on the job and has hit the recruiting trail along with Schrage, as Notre Dame looks to maintain its tradition of attracting top-level talent to its baseball program.
- Dave Schrage Press Conference Transcript
- Dave Schrage Photo Gallery
- What They’re Saying About Dave Schrage
The 30-year-old Lawler previously served as an assistant to Schrage for five years (four with the additional role of recruiting coordinator), first at Northern Illinois University during the 2000 and ’01 seasons and then for three years at the University of Evansville (’03-’05). He now is reunited with Schrage after spending the 2005-06 season as the associate head coach and recruiting coordinator at Arkansas-Little Rock – where he had the unique opportunity to serve on the staff of his uncle Jim Lawler, whose status as a household name in the world of college baseball includes 22 seasons as a member of the Texas A&M baseball staff and being named national assistant coach of the year in 2003.
Scott Lawler (left) and Notre Dame head coach Dave Schrage (right) coached together for two seasons at Northern Illinois and for three years at Evansville (pictured).
The new Notre Dame assistant coach has even closer coaching ties, as his father Phil Lawler has coached for the past 30 years in the Chicago area – including 25 seasons as associate head coach of the Naperville Central High School team that just won the 2006 Illinois state title. The elder Lawler is widely known throughout the state’s baseball community and has been inducted into the Illinois High School Hall of Fame.
“Scott is a rising star in the coaching world and is going to get some great opportunities down the road to be a head coach. He was the first call I made when I got the job here, because I knew I was getting a guy who had a great passion for the game, who was a good person and who was going to be loyal to the Notre Dame program,” says Schrage, who has taken over the reins of a Notre Dame baseball program where three different assistant coaches recently have developed into Division I head coaches.
“Scott communicates well with the players, he knows the game and teaches the game very well. He’s not afraid to learn the next technique and always wants to improve himself as a coach. The players are going to love playing for him. Scott is fun to be around and keeps the guys loose, which is good because sometimes I’m too into the games and he kind of breaks the ice.”
Lawler’s coaching responsibilities, in terms of position coach duties, will not be finalized until Schrage completes his staff with the addition of the program’s second assistant and volunteer assistant. A utility player during his playing days at Morehead State and Simpson College, Lawler has remained a two-way talent on the coaching level with successful stints serving as the hitting coach at Northern Illinois and then the pitching coach for Evansville. He assisted his uncle in overseeing all positions on the team at Arkansas-Little Rock.
“Scott is very knowledgeable about the coaching profession and comes from a great baseball family,” adds Schrage, who has set a priority on hiring assistants who complement the head coach while also injecting their unique input and personality.
“He is not afraid to tell me if he thinks we should look at doing something different and I need that type of assistant – that’s how you become better as coaches and as a staff. A lot of things are second nature between us, because we have worked together so long and we know the type of player we are looking for. Your recruiting coordinator is very key, especially here at Notre Dame, to identify those kids who truly are interested in your program. Scott does a great job throughout the entire recruiting process of identifying the right kids.”
Lawler had been a key component of Schrage’s rebuilding success stories at NIU and Evansville before heading to Arkansas-Little Rock in July of 2005 to coach with his uncle, who specifically targeted his nephew for the staff due to his experience with rebuilding programs. In just one month’s time, the Lawler duo had assembled a new group of eight recruits that was rated by Collegiate Baseball magazine among the nation’s “best of the rest” (just outside the top-40) for classes entering in the fall of 2005. And prior to leaving for Notre Dame, Lawler had helped his uncle sign a class of 19 players for the 2006 season, as the Trojans look to continue on their rebuilding project.
Scott Lawler (left) grew up around the game of baseball while learning the game from his father Phil (center) and uncle Jim (right).
Two of the UALR pitchers who were coached by Lawler moved on to professional baseball after the 2006 season, as senior Rob Harmon was drafted by the Seattle Mariners while fellow righthander Trevor Clay was a free-agent signee. Lawler’s time in Little Rock also included coordinating the baseball program’s budget, fundraising and spring game schedule.
“It’s an honor to be at Notre Dame right now. After growing up I Chicago, it’s a dream come true. I’ve had a lot of opportunities as an assistant or head coach at other schools, but this is an opportunity where I’m not looking over my shoulder,” says Lawler.
“I’m coming into a program where these kids have won and know how to win, but our main goal is going to the College World Series and winning the College World Series. It’s the same general philosophy we’ve had in my previous coaching positions but certainly with a higher goal. These kids are further along, so now it’s a matter of setting the goals higher and going for it.
“I’ve coached with Dave [Schrage] for five years and he is a very loyal person to his program and to the kids. I respect that and it’s the reason I want to work for Dave again – because, with him, the kids come first and the program comes first. He has no ego and has a passion for winning. Every program that he has taken over, he has turned the program around and they’ve all been better programs after he leaves. I feel I’m a teacher and when you look at that aspect, you want to work for a guy who believes in the kids.”
Lawler’s three seasons at Evansville saw the Aces pitching staff lower the team ERA every season, culminating in a 4.46 ERA for the 2005 season. Many of the players that he had recruited to Evansville ended up being key ingredients in the record-setting 2006 season that saw the Aces win the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season and tournament titles before reaching the championship game of the NCAA Charlottesville Regional (capping a 43-win season).
His 2005 recruiting class at Evansville was included among Collegiate Baseball magazine’s annual “best of the rest” and his 2005 staff featured three pitchers who received all-Missouri Valley Conference honors. Most notably, Michael Greenhouse developed under the guidance of Lawler into a 2005 draft selection of the Chicago Cubs.
Scott Lawler’s recruiting highlights at Evansville included signing the 2004 Missouri Valley Conference newcomer of the year, Cody Strait (pictured).
Lawler’s recruiting highlights at Evansville included signing eventual 2004 MVC newcomer of the year Cody Strait, 2004 Freshman All-American Pat Tumilty. Prior to leaving Evansville, he had signed two prospects who were ranked in the nation’s Top 100 by Team One Baseball: Ben Norton (who went on to be named the 2006 MVC newcomer of the year) and catcher Kirk Bascu, who later received all-MVC honors. His numerous duties at Evansville also included organizing the summer camp program, managing the team’s compliance needs and coordinating team travel.
Schrage and Lawler joined an Evansville program that had won only 22 games in the 2002 season and proceeded to guide the Aces in building their victory total each season, including 24-31 in 2003, 28-32 in ’04 and 35-23 in ’05. The pair earlier had overseen a similar turnaround at Northern Illinois, where Schrage took over a program that had won just four games in the 1999 season. That victory total grew to 24 in the 2000 season before Lawler joined the staff for a 2001 season that produced the most wins in the history of the program (28-27) and the first winning record by a NIU baseball team in 20 years.
Lawler initially joined the Northern Illinois staff as a volunteer assistant coach but one month later he was moved into the vacant second assistant’s position, after making a quality impression on his head coach. He coached the Huskies hitters and outfielders, including Freshman All-America first baseman Trevor Stocking, while also organizing the program’s fundraising efforts during that 2001 season.
Lawler later was promoted to the additional role of NIU recruiting coordinator for the 2002 season and helped sign a class that produced two Freshman All-Americans (first basemen Scott Simon and pitcher Mark Badgley) and two players – infielder Joe Mazzuca (12th round, Seattle Mariners) and pitcher Nick Hall (free-agent, Philadelphia Phillies) – who eventually were drafted or signed by Major League teams. Another one of his signees at NIU, outfielder Mike Santoro, later signed with the San Francisco Giants in 2005. Lawler also took on the duties of infield coach and camp director for the ’02 season.
Lawler’s collegiate playing career began at Morehead State, where he played from 1995-98 as a pitcher, outfielder and first baseman before transferring to Simpson College (located in Indianola, Iowa) for his senior season. As a prep, he played baseball for his father at Naperville Central High School, where he earned all-conference honors as a senior utility player. Lawler also was a forward on the NCHS basketball team and a football tight end, with all three of his teams ranked among the state top-25 during his career.
A native of Naperville, Ill., Lawler graduated from Simpson College in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in sports administration. He went on to earn a master’s degree in public service administration from Evansville in 2005. He and his wife, Kim – who also comes from an athletic family and was a member of the cross country team at Northern Illinois – welcomed their son Lucas Raymond to their family on Dec. 21, 2005.