WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Casey Powell, a one-time Northwest Conference (NWC) Player of the Year, is the new head baseball coach at Whitman College.
Powell, 27, replaces Travis Feezell, who left the coaching ranks last July to become the full-time athletic director at Whitman. Feezell served a dual role as baseball coach and part-time athletic director the past two years.
A 1997 graduate of Linfield College in McMinnville, Ore., Powell has been an assistant baseball coach at his alma mater the past four seasons. He completed a master's degree in sport management last summer through the U.S. Sports Academy, which is based in Daphne, Ala.
Powell, a native of Bend, Ore., earned NWC Player-of-the-Year honors during his junior season at Linfield. A second baseman, he hit .405 that season while stealing 17 bases in 22 attempts.
"I think Whitman is fortunate to have attracted one of the best young coaches in the Northwest," Feezell said. "Casey's understanding of the game is tremendous. He knows our conference and has recruiting contacts throughout the region. He understands what it takes to have a successful baseball program at a small college."
Powell, who also served as assistant coach the past two summers for the Bend Elks semi-pro team, credits Feezell with easing the transition into his first head coaching position.
"Because I was at Linfield for so long, as both an assistant coach and as a player, coaching in the Northwest Conference is a comfortable fit for me," Powell said. "At the same time, Travis has been great with the transition. He checks to make sure my head stays above water, and it was Travis who recruited the strong freshman class that I've now inherited."
Beginning with his father, Powell has had no shortage of coaching role models. His father, Clyde, was a teacher and the head football coach for nearly 20 years at Bend's Mt. View High School, where Powell played football as well as baseball. "It isn't every high school kid who goes home with his father at night to work on a game plan or look at film," Powell said.
While at Linfield, Powell played and then coached under head coach Scott Carnahan, now in his 20th season at the helm of the Wildcat baseball program.
It also was Carnahan who served as the on-site administrator for Powell's master's degree program, which he completed through the U.S. Sports Academy's internet-based distance learning program. "Completing my master's through distance learning was great for me," Powell said. "It allowed me to complete my degree while staying at Linfield and gaining coaching experience."
The U.S. Sports Academy, which recently marked its 30th year of operation, offers bachelor, master's and doctoral degree programs in the fields of sport management, sport coaching, sport studies, and recreation management. With the exception of the final comprehensive examinations, students are able to complete entire curriculum programs away from the academy.
As a player at Linfield, Powell earned First-Team All-NWC honors as both a junior and senior. He served as a team captain as a senior, when he hit .397 in a lead-off role. His team awards included Most Valuable Player as a junior and Most Improved Player as a sophomore.
Following his graduation in the spring of 1997, Powell traveled to Australia to play one season for the Pine River Rapids, a semi-pro team in Brisbane. While there, he also coached a team of 16-year-old players.
"From the moment I graduated, coaching is what I've wanted to do," Powell said. "I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity at Whitman. My players and I will work hard to be successful, on the field and off."
Powell and his wife Jennifer are making their home in Walla Walla. Jennifer Powell, also a Linfield graduate and a sprinter/hurdler on its track team, recently resigned as the corporate fitness director at Portland General Electric, a position she held for four years.
"Jennifer has always been tremendously supportive as I've pursued my coaching career," Powell said. "She understood that we might have to move around a bit until the right spot opened up for me."