Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Chris Pollard, the 2012 Southern Conference Coach of the Year who guided Appalachian State to six consecutive 30-win seasons, has been named Duke University’s 25th head baseball coach as announced June 14 by Duke Vice President and Director of Athletics Kevin White.
After joining the Mountaineer staff in 2004, Pollard successfully transformed a program saddled with back-to-back 10-win seasons into a team on the verge of the College World Series in 2012. This past year, he led Appalachian State to one of its most accomplished seasons in the program’s 109-year history as the Mountaineers set a school record for victories with a 41-18 overall record and won the Southern Conference championship with a 21-9 league mark. Appalachian earned a berth in the 2012 NCAA Championship, advancing to the championship round of the Charlottesville Regional with wins over national powers Virginia and Oklahoma.
In addition, the 2012 Mountaineers won their first conference championship since 1987, advanced to NCAA postseason play for the first time since 1986 and won their first NCAA Tournament game since 1973. Appalachian also claimed four wins over nationally-ranked opponents and spent six weeks in the national rankings. Prior to the record-breaking 2012 campaign, the Mountaineers boasted just one win over a nationally-ranked team since 1982 and one appearance in a major college baseball poll.
Pollard took the helm of Appalachian’s program in 2004 and by 2006, his second season with the Mountaineers, he led ASU to 24 victories, four more than the previous two seasons combined. Six-consecutive 30-win seasons would follow as the Mountaineers have won at least one SoCon Tournament game every season and finished among the top-50 teams in the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) rankings twice during that span.
Pollard’s tenure at Appalachian State has been punctuated by his ability to recruit top-notch talent. After Appalachian went without a Major League Baseball draftee for a dozen years, three members of Pollard’s initial ASU recruiting class were selected in the first 12 rounds of the 2008 MLB Draft. In total, Appalachian State has produced 13 MLB draftees under Pollard’s watch, including a school-record four draftees in both 2008 and 2012.
Prior to his arrival at Appalachian, Pollard served as the head coach at Pfeiffer University from 2000-04. In his final year at Pfeiffer, he coached the Falcons to the winningest season in school history, a 41-14 campaign that culminated with its second straight Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference regular season championship and a berth in the 2004 NCAA Division II South Atlantic Regional. In addition, Pfeiffer reached as high as No. 2 in the South Atlantic Regional rankings and No. 109 in the national polls according to Collegiate Baseball newspaper. Pollard was named the 2004 CVAC Coach of the Year both by the league’s coaches and the American Baseball Coaches Association for his efforts.
Similar to his time at Appalachian, Pollard took over a Pfeiffer squad which had suffered three losing seasons in the four years prior to his arrival and began a rebuilding project that led to the Falcons’ record improving in each of his five seasons as head coach. In addition, he also served as Pfeiffer’s director of athletics for the 2003-04 year, overseeing the daily supervision of the school’s 16 varsity sports including NCAA compliance, budget and salary management, public relations, fundraising and facility oversight.
Prior to his stint at Pfeiffer, Pollard served as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Davidson College. His primary responsibilities for the Wildcat staff included serving as the team’s pitching coach and recruiting coordinator.
Pollard also gained coaching experience in the NCAA-certified Coastal Plain Summer League as the head coach of the Durham Braves in 1998 and pitching coach with the Rocky Mount Rock Fish in 1997.
As a player at Davidson from 1993-96, Pollard became just the third pitcher in program history to win 20 games for a career. He ranks among the all-time top-10 in Davidson history with 20 wins (3rd), 168 strikeouts (8th), 59 appearances (t-7th), 309 innings pitched (4th), 39 starts (6th) 18 complete games (t-7th) and two shutouts (t-3rd). As a sophomore, Pollard defeated both No. 1 Georgia Tech and No. 25 Western Carolina before tying an NCAA record by earning victories in both ends of a doubleheader versus Georgia Southern as a junior.
Pollard graduated from Davidson in 1996, earning a B.A. in psychology with a concentration in child and adolescent development. He played professionally in both the Western League and the Northern League before returning to Davidson to begin his coaching career. Pollard also received a Master’s degree in physical education/health education from Mississippi State in 2004.
His wife, Stephanie, is a 1997 Davidson graduate. The couple has two sons – Thomas and Brady.