Nebraska Introduces Will Bolt as Head Baseball Coach

Quotes from Head Coach Will Bolt and Athletic Director Bill Moos

Bill Moos Opening Statement
“I’m starting to get used to this. It’s a great day today for the University of Nebraska and really what a compliment when as an institution we can bring one of our own home as we are doing today with Will Bolt. A two-time captain during his playing days, involved in all three of the Huskers’ College World Series appearances and all four of the super regionals. I really emphasize the captain piece, because there’s no greater honor for an athlete than to be elected captain by your own teammates and he did it twice, that shows a lot right there. Will went on and built a resume at a championship caliber program at Texas A&M, was a head coach, and I love this, when I sat and talked to Will (Bolt) I said, ‘I like the fact that you were at a small place where you have to share a secretary, you have to make your coffee, you have to ride the bus and he said, ‘Heck Bill, I drove the bus,’ and I like that in the coaches I’m able to hire. We got the full package here; a scrambler, a winner, a beautiful family and he’s back with us now, and I’m excited to hear what he has to say. Let’s welcome the 24th head baseball coach at the University of Nebraska, Will Bolt.”

Will Bolt Opening Statement
“Well this is a little surreal to me to be honest. The first thing I’d like to do before getting into anything else, I really want to take a moment to thank and honor Darin Erstad for all the time and effort and heart and soul he poured into Nebraska Baseball for the last eight years. I just wanted to take a moment to do that. Him making the decision to go and be with his family is one I’m not surprised by just knowing Darin and being around him, just wanted to make sure I thanked him. He’s the greatest Husker I know; he’s been everything to Nebraska baseball and we just wanted to say thank you Darin for everything you’ve done and everything you’re going to continue to do in the background. I’d also like to thank Bill Moos, John Jentz, Bob Burton, Chancellor Green, President Bounds, really everybody associated with the athletic department for making this day possible. Of course, to the former players I’ve coached over the years, guys I’ve felt like I’ve had the chance to mold into young men, they’ve helped mold me. Guys that I’ve coached, I’ve played with, I see some familiar faces in the back today it’s been a long time. Of course my family here, Lauren, Jaxon, Austin, and little Bella. The rollercoaster ride that being a baseball coaches’ wife can provide and the rock that she’s been for me throughout my entire life, throughout my career, and for my boys.

My boys, they’re excited to be here too. My parents Bill and Debbie have always been a great support for me, really pushing me out of my comfort zone when I was 18 years old to come to the University of Nebraska from Texas and they helped start me on my journey. It’s the honor of lifetime for me to be standing in front of everyone here, and for my family and me to return to Lincoln and have the chance to be the head coach here, it’s truly something I can hardly describe. It’s something dreams are made of. For as much as the university’s given me, the athletic department has given to me, the experiences, the friendships that I’ve made, just having the opportunity to feel like I can give back and serve in this capacity as head coach is something that is truly special.

As I started thinking about the last seven days—I guess it’s been seven days, maybe a full year, I can’t even remember, it’s been a blur—since our season ended. Reflecting back on all my journeys as a Husker, it’s really a unique situation. I’ve had the opportunity to literally sit in every chair that you can sit in at Nebraska Baseball. I think back to it, I was a scrawny kid coming out of Texas, and Dave Van Horn and Rob Childress took a chance on me to come up here and play, have a chance to play in two College World Series and actually have a locker, as a senior, for the first year of Hawks Field/Haymarket Park, to have that seat and to be a player in this program.

And then when I was finished playing, I had the opportunity to be a student assistant, help the program out in any way possible. Mostly, my number one thing that I did every day was I sat next to Renee Brinkman, who’s really the boss of Nebraska Baseball as most of you know. My duty was really to bug her every day. I sat next to her, I stuffed envelopes, I cut some things out for her, mailed some things out, like I said just basically bugged Renee for an entire year. Then the next year, having the chance to be a graduate manager, which was kind of a new position. Some of those tasks and duties I really remember was going and stocking the coach’s locker room with shampoo and soap, doing some laundry for the team, and organizing equipment. Those were the duties of that first year as graduate manager. Then the next year, as volunteer assistant coach, where I had the chance to learn and be around Mike Anderson, Rob Childress and Andy Sawyers. And then, associate head coach with Darin coming back here in 2011 when he was named head coach, ushering Nebraska into the Big Ten, a new era of Nebraska Baseball, allowing us to see some new things and new experiences and having the chance to get to a regional in 2014 was big, first time in five years for the program.

And now, to today. Just having the chance to be the head coach, I can look back on all those experiences as a player, as a manager, as a coach, and truly say that this is the highlight of it all, is to be the head coach of Nebraska Baseball. I just look forward to carrying on the momentum that Coach Erstad has helped provide for this program, and strive every day to just do the little things, do whatever it takes to help us become a team that has a chance to play in Omaha year in and year out, and be the last team standing. I can’t wait to get started, I’m very thankful for the opportunity.

I have my two assistant coaches with me here today as well, Lance Harvell and Jeff Christy, some of you guys may recognize Jeff Christy’s name. I’m excited to get going, I’m fired up, and I’m almost as excited as Bella is over there, she can hardly contain herself. I’m excited to get going, and ready to open it up for questions.”

On developing as a coach since his days as a Husker
“I’ve seen a lot you know, just having the chance to go coach in the SEC every day and kind of seeing what that’s all about, the players, the guys you’re going up against are major leaguers or guys that are big league ready. I’ve learned a lot, it’s just a different league and different experiences and playing in different venues and it was fine here. I feel like I’ve grown a lot, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned what I could do all over again, some things that I’ll probably do differently but I will say more than anything, just having five more years of being a coach at the highest level kind of helped prepare me for this day to be a head coach.”

On being able to see the differences of the Big 12 and Big Ten as a player and coach
“Just kind of being familiar with some of the venues, being in so many different parks and those kinds of things, knowing some of the rules as the conference as far as travel days and those kind of things. Anytime you’ve had a chance to be around for a few years, you’re going to learn a few things. So just having that chance to be in the Big Ten certainly goes a long way.”

On making the final out to send Nebraska to its first College World Series and what it will take to get back to the series
“Back to that moment, I think we had a three-run lead, we had two runners on and there was a pop up to shallow center field and honestly I can say there was no thought that crossed my mind other than I cannot wait to dogpile when the ball comes down. So that was kind of what I was thinking right there and, you know, just having that opportunity to be in that spot, it was honestly a huge moment for Nebraska Baseball and I guess just being around a bunch of winners every day, the coaching staff and the players and those type of things. Those are things that you draw every day from this game, the people that you’re around. We have a lot of really good things in place here right now to be able to take this program to the next, I guess carry the momentum that Darin [Erstad] left.”

On the brand of baseball Bolt wants at Nebraska
“Winning. Whatever that’s got to look like, honestly just whatever it takes. Just a bunch of guys that are fighters, they’re going to scrap, you’ve got to have talent, too. If you have talent and guys that play that way, you’ll win a lot of games. So I’d say just a bunch of guys that are tough, hard-nosed and can play the game where the fans can watch the game and say, ‘those guys get after it,’ that if you say anything, that’s what I want to have here.”

On the staff he assembled to help him coach
“I’ve been thinking about this for a while, you know, just having the opportunity to be a head coach I guess, people you coach with, you work with, you kind of get a feel for their personalities and what makes them go. With Jeff (Christy), we’ve been together for five years at two different places and with him making the move to go to Oklahoma from Nebraska I think really kind of helped with his career just as far as getting that experience, you know just going out and getting out of that comfort zone, getting that experience. And I guess talking him into coming to Texas A&M and being a volunteer coach again, I said, “Hey, if you come here, you’ll have a chance to do a better job.’ Jeff, he’s an intelligent guy, he’s very organized and I think his experience as a catcher over all these years, he’s kind of seen the game from a different set of eyes when it comes to the pitcher and so, and he’s a great pitch-caller, too. And Lance has been with me for two years at Texarkana Junior College and our paths crossed when I first started coaching, my first volunteer year at A&M, he was still a player, so he’s had a lot of good experience as well with the Louisiana-Lafayette teams that were really close to going to Omaha and been a recruiting coordinator. We’re all really good friends, but I didn’t choose these guys because we’re friends, I chose them because they’re great coaches, but we’re going to have that camaraderie.”

On communication with Darin Erstad
“ I’ve talked to Darin. I’ve talked to him a few times when the process first started and when I accepted the job, he’s one of the first ones I’ve called. He’s very supportive. I have learned a ton of baseball from him in my time here as a volunteer. Like I said, he’s the greatest Husker I know. There’s nobody who loves Nebraska more than him. He’s a brilliant baseball man, and obviously a family man. I’m going to continue to lean on him. I know he’s going to be in the background a little bit. He doesn’t want to be front and center anymore, which I totally understand. He’s going to be there for me to lean on or at least he better be because I’m going to bug him a little bit. He’s a great man, and I’ve had positive communication with him.”

On lessons learned from prior coaches and positions
“How to compete. I feel like I’ve got a pretty good idea of that as a player. I kind of had to do that as an undersized guy. The difference between competing and staying focused and being able to keep your emotions in touch. Dave (Van Horn) was the ultimate competitor. He was the ultimate in that he takes you through the small things and really just playing the game the right way. Rob (Childress) is the ultimate mentor and he’s the guy who was always there for, around you, listen to what was what was going on, on the field. Maybe not even as a coach, just kind of as a friend and I think that kind of balance and things I’ve learned from those two guys.”

On his message to the high school coaches and players in the state of Nebraska to make them come to Nebraska?
“This is a great place to play baseball. We are talking about the University of Nebraska, the Huskers. We want every kid to think it’s cool to be at Nebraska. And I think they do. I think it’s just a matter of making sure that we identify the right guys and we get on them early enough. But we are going to make it a priority and there are enough good players here. You can go back and look at the roster of every great team Nebraska has ever had it’s a really good combination of in-state players, maybe some junior college hitters mixed in, and really the development of the pitchers in the state. And there is a lot of them. There is a lot of really good players in the state and we want to keep them. We can’t necessarily keep every single guy because of roster things and everything else, but we are definitely going to make it a priority to keep these Nebraska kids in state and we are going to start there. “

On Nebraska’s ability to compete for Big Ten Championships and more in the near future
“All you have to do is look at where they were last year, very close to winning a regular-season title, a Big Ten Tournament title, basically one pitch away from being 2-0 in Regionals. From a team that really didn’t catch its stride till late in the season, so maybe just finding some consistency early in the year allows you to win one or two more games, which maybe allows them to host a regional. It’s that paper thin and that line is always that thin I think with every team every year where you are awfully close to a team that can host a regional or awfully close to being a team that may not even get to the postseason. I think it’s what you do in the days in between that allow you to be the team to have a chance to play the most.“

On his adjustments to the job during the past week in Lincoln
“I guess meeting the players and all the support staff. Getting our staff here, kind of getting the paperwork filled out, all that good stuff. Recruiting. It started immediately. Getting on the phones, visiting with high school coaches and that type of thing. I’ve hardly seen these guys (assistant coaches) even though we have been in the same office. Been running around doing different things. They have hit the ground running when it comes to those things. Recruiting. It’s been fast and furious. I’ve really done my best to slow down and enjoy it. Like I said, this is an honor of a lifetime.”

On the positive comments he received from Dave Van Horn and Rob Childress
“What it means I feel like if you just show up and work hard anything is possible. And I feel like that has just been the path that I have taken as a player, as a coach. I’ve never really been one to care about anything other than just being the best I can that day, and so I like to think that is probably what allows them to feel like they can put their name behind it and say that they feel like I would be a good fit and a good coach, and I think if you make it more about the next job, or make it about the next place you are going to go, you know, looking too far in the future, we just totally lose sight of what’s right there in front of you. I feel like I’ve always had a pretty good sense of doing that and I’ve had it pretty good being grounded with Lauren. She’s kept me in my place a few times when I needed it, so that helps too. But yeah, just the day to day, going up and being the same every day.”

On the initial days of the hiring process
“It was a frantic 48 hours after our season ended. Basically our season ended, I got home from Morgantown, West Virginia, walked through the door, hugged Lauren, hugged the boys, sat down on the couch, I had my phone in the other room. I took a deep breath, like OK, season is over, we are in recruit mode now. And then my phone started blowing up. It was like, ‘Hey Darin resigned, this is going on, what do you think?’ It just has been a whirlwind from there. And obviously things move pretty quickly from there. I had interest right away. This was a no-brainer for me. It was just the job, the opportunity, everything Nebraska does, so that moved very quickly. I had the chance to meet with Bill (Moos) and the rest is history.”

On meeting with current players
“We have had probably 8 to 10 guys that are here that we have visited with. Yesterday we kind of addressed them as a team just a couple of things and introduce our staff to them also. Probably 8 to 10 guys in town and reached out to others on the phone, text, we got group messages going, kind of just getting the ball rolling.”

On keeping Nebraska high school players in the state
“I think every kid wants to play at Nebraska, actually. That’s the way I look at it. They want to be here. We’ve just got to make sure we can foster those relationships early, whether it’s a kid that we don’t feel can fit our roster at that particular time, talking to the junior college coaches and making that a priority. (We want to) be like, ‘look these guys are coming down from the state, we want to make sure we get first dibs on getting these guys back.’ Really just keeping that line of communication open with the kids when they go down there. We’ve got a lot to offer. We have the great facilities. We’ve got the unbelievable fan base. We’ve got everything in place that we need. We just need to make sure we foster those relationships early and keep those kids in state.”