Nick Harlan is the new associate head coach and pitching coach for the University of Central Arkansas baseball program, Bears head coach Allen Gum announced Monday.
Harlan joins the UCA program after nine years as head coach at York College, an NAIA school in York, Neb. Harlan led the Panthers to five regional berths and four straight Top 25 rankings. York advanced to the NAIA World Series in 2013 and finished with a 42-12 overall record.
“Coach Harlan is going to bring a lot of experience to our program," said Gum, who led the Bears to a school-record 42 victories, a Southland Conference Tournament title and an NCAA Regional Berth this season. “He’s been a head coach, and also a pitching coach, for nine years. His values and character lines up perfectly with what we were looking for in a coach. He’s going to being a lot of energy, a lot of knowledge.
“And the most important thing that came through when talking to him in the interview process was the fact that he really wants to help young men reach their goals. And that’s what we try to do here at UCA. He embodies the same beliefs that we’re trying to accomplish here at UCA." Harlan, a native of northern California, began his coaching carer in 2002 as an assistant coach at Feather River Community College in Quincy, Calif. While at Feather River, Harlan helped lead the Golden Eagles to their first California Final Four appearance. He also served as an associate scout for the Philadelphia Phillies during that time.
“I knew that UCA had a respected baseball program," Harlan said. “And then I had a chance to visit with coach Gum over the winter at the ABCA convention and get to know him a little bit. First of all, I was just really impressed with him as a person. I knew he had a great reputation as a baseball coach, but after visiting with him, just his character and his leadership ability... he’s a great family man.
“When he contacted me about being a part of UCA baseball, that was intriguing. But to know that I might have an opportunity to work with him as a person, I just thought that would be a great situation. A chance for me to be around a great coach and a quality person and to continue to grow. I am really excited about that."
Harlan’s 2013 York team was awarded the Hank Burbridge Champions of Character award, given to the one team in the nation that best exemplifies the five core values of the NAIA: integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership.
“That’s what’s so exciting, to be able to work with somebody who has a mission to impact players’ lives,’ said Harlan. “The whole coaching staff is committed to helping student-athletes reach their full potential here, really in every aspect of their lives. That’s my passion as well.
“I knew the baseball aspect of it was great. And I had heard great things about the athletic department and the school as a whole. And when I had a chance to really sit down and visit with Coach Gum, I knew it was a great opportunity to impact the lives of young people. I feel really blessed to be able to join this staff." Harlan replaces Kirk Kelley, who left to start the new intercollegiate football program at Lyon College in Batesville.