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Upping Our Game


The University of St. Thomas announced Clayton VanderLaan as the head coach of the school’s varsity baseball team, which will take the field in spring 2020 for the first time since the 1968-1969 season.

It’s not just going to take the team, it’s going to take the whole University community to help really get this thing off the ground.
– Clayton VanderLaan, Head Coach, UST Men’s Baseball

Clayton VanderLaan, Head Coach, UST Men’s Baseball

Clayton VanderLaan, Head Coach, UST Men’s Baseball

VanderLaan, a Houston native with more than 20 years of baseball experience as a player and a coach, recently served as head baseball coach at Saginaw Valley State University, an NCAA Division II institution in University Center, Michigan. The hire of VanderLaan will also serve as a homecoming of sorts, as he spent three years on the coaching staff at nearby St. Thomas High School.

“We are extremely excited to welcome home Coach Clayton VanderLaan,” UST Athletic Director Todd Smith said. “We wanted a leader who knew and loved Houston, understood our institution and would relate to the young men who want to play college baseball. Coach VanderLaan embodied all of these qualities.”

When Coach guides the 2020 Celts onto the field for their first home game, VanderLaan will likely be in a familiar setting: The Celts will play most of their home games at St. Thomas High School for the foreseeable future.

The UST Athletics Program is getting in the swing of things. The program was recently approved for exploratory membership in Division III of the National Collegiate Athletic Association for the 2018-2019 academic year. Membership requirements of the NCAA Division III include sponsorship and participation in at least 12 intercollegiate sports, six men’s sports and six women’s sports. With the baseball team and the men’s and women’s tennis teams, the 12 programs are soon to be complete.

It’s rare to have a brand-new sports program at a school. It’s a special time to be here to be a part of it and to lead the direction of the program.
– Jack Brasington III, Head Coach, UST Tennis

Jack Brasington III, Head Coach, UST Tennis

Jack Brasington III, Head Coach, UST Tennis

Former professional tennis player Jack Brasington III will serve as the head coach of the school’s varsity men’s and women’s tennis teams, the first in the University’s 71-year history. The teams will take to the court in fall 2019.

“We want to welcome Coach Brasington to St. Thomas and the Celt athletic family,” Athletic Director Todd Smith said. “We are fortunate someone with Jack’s pedigree, reputation and experience will lead UST’s first tennis team. He will be the leader who builds the foundation of a terrific tennis program.”

From 2000-2004, Brasington played on the Association of Tennis Professionals tour, eventually advancing as high as #125 in singles (July 2002) and #315 in doubles (June 2003) and captured four tournament titles. In 2002, he consecutively quaalified for all four major grand slam tournaments in a row. During the grand slams, he played against such players as Roger Federer and Andy Roddick, and he played in the Arthur Ashe Stadium, the largest tennis stadium in the world.

Brasington retired from the tour in 2004 and began his coaching career at the University of Maryland as the men’s assistant tennis coach under Jim Latta. He returned to Houston in 2006 to become the tennis coach at the Houston Racquet Club and then moved to the Jewish Community Center in 2009 as Director of Excellence. Brasington returned to the HRC in 2013 as the High Performance Coach. He joined Rice University men’s tennis staff in the fall of 2017 as a volunteer assistant coach for the men’s team before coming to UST.

About the Author — Sandra Soliz, MLA '01 Soliz

AvatarSandra Soliz, director of Communications for University of St. Thomas, has served the University for 20 years in Marketing Communications Department. In her position, she handles media relations and serves as the editor of the Encounter Magazine.

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