Patrick Conlin took notes on Fox Valley Conference baseball teams throughout his first season at Dundee-Crown and understands how difficult the FVC, which has produced a state champion, runner-up and fourth-place finisher since the start of 2017, can be to navigate for both players and coaches.
“In just one year, I see how well they’re coached and I see how hard they work,” said Conlin, a varsity assistant with the Chargers last season. “I understand winning in this conference definitely will be a challenge ... but I think we can build a program that can compete with anybody.”
Conlin, 28, was hired as D-C’s varsity baseball coach last week. He replaces Matt Mueller, who resigned at the end of last spring to spend more time with his family, going 27-73 in three years at D-C.
Conlin, who teaches special education at D-C, previously was a sophomore assistant baseball coach at Lake Zurich and varsity assistant at Stevenson. The 2009 Rolling Meadows graduate pitched at Concordia.
D-C went 6-28 last season and lost to McHenry, 6-1, in the Class 4A regional semifinals. The Chargers have not won a postseason title since 2013. Conlin’s focus for now is accountability.
“I want to set a standard that everyone is held accountable from the beginning of the year until the end,” Conlin said. “Making baseball a priority is going to be important. I know baseball isn’t the only priority, but the expectation is that you’re a part of this program, through thick and thin, wins and losses, until the end.
“Making the program something the kids want to be a part of, and are proud to be a part of, is very important.”
D-C returns the majority of its starters, including senior pitcher and outfielder Nick Gregory, a Northwest Herald All-Area honorable mention pick in the spring. Senior first baseman Nick Cuciarone and junior outfielder Justin Colon will also be key to D-C’s success, Conlin said.
“I think its important for us to go in with a chip on our shoulder and a little bit of edge,” Conlin said. “I’m going to preach that grinder mentality. I think that’s something we’re going to live by, and I think we have the right kids to do it. They want to succeed, they want to work hard and I can see that.”
Conlin is excited to get started.
“As a first year head coach, I don’t think I could have chosen a better place to get a start,” Conlin said. “The people here are great and the kids here are great. There are 100 things I think we do well, and there are another 100 things I think we can do better. It’s going to be a bit of a process, but having spoken with kids at camp, I think they’re looking forward to it, as well.”