Hawks center fielder earns all-conference honors for second straight season
by: David Whigham
UMES improved from three to seven conference victories in 2011
Team adds strong mix of freshmen and junior college transfers
Three Hawk athletic teams involved in the season of giving
Will Gardner enters his sixth season as head coach of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore baseball team.
The 2011 season saw the Hawks make strong strides in the MEAC. Though UMES went 9-41 overall, the Hawks more than doubled last year's conference win total with seven, including a series sweep of Florida A&M and a pair of wins over Coppin State, earning the 5-seed in the conference tournament. Bryan Chaikowsky became the first UMES player in 20 years to earn First Team All-MEAC honors, while center fielder Tre-von Johnson earned Second Team. The team also earned its first victory in the MEAC Tournament since 2007 with an 11-6 victory over Florida A&M.
In 2010, UMES went 8-43, earning the No. 6 seed in the MEAC Tournament. Both Chaikowsky and Phil Vaughn earned MEAC honors under Gardner. Chaikowsky was named a Preseason All-MEAC Honorable Mention and was named All-MEAC Second Team at season's end along with Vaughn. Vaughn also named to the MEAC All-Tournament Team.
He led the 2009 squad to an eight-win improvement over 2008 and helped the Hawks earned to the No. 4 seed in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament with a 9-9 mark in league play. Under Gardner's watch both Pat Hercinger and Chaikowsky were named All-MEAC Second Team selections while Russel Deautschmann and Chaikowsky garnered a spot on the All-MEAC Tournament Team.
Gardner lost just two seniors from his 2008 squad which was 6-50 and 4-12 in the MEAC. He saw Vaughn led the MEAC in stolen bases (23), while senior Ken Richardson, garnered All-MEAC Tournament honors.
After Gardner's first year at UMES, he sent three Hawks into the professional ranks. Eric Gaines and Dustin Longchamps signed to play with the Utica Brewmasters of the New York State League and, after completing his degree, Joel Gonzalez played with Amarillo in the double-A Texas League.
In his 11-year coaching career, Gardner has coached 15 all-conference performers and 11 all-tournament players.
The 2007 team leaped from a solid 2.81 team grade point average in 2007 to an impressive 3.22 mark in 2008 and earned the coveted the UMES Team of Scholars award. The baseball team also boasted more academic scholars per team than any other team on campus. The Hawks also claimed five conference academic awards in 2008.
Gardner's coaching path has wound through many parts of the Eastern Shore with stops at Bowie State (1998-2001), Anne Arundel Community College (2001-2003) and Delaware State (2004-2006).
As head coach at Bowie, he brought the team back to a third-place finish in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, which was the most success the team had seen in four seasons. Gardner tallied a 51-70 record over his three seasons while in Bowie, with his best season coming in 2001 at 26-22.
At Anne Arundel, Gardner assumed the positions of director of athletics and associate head baseball coach. He helped guide those squads to a combined 62-65 record.
Gardner's most recent stop was at Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference rival Delaware State, where he was an assistant coach for two seasons. Those DSU teams combined for a 37-64-2 record during his brief stint with the Hornets.
Prior to his coaching career, Gardner held positions with the Kansas City Royals, Cincinnati Reds, and Baltimore Orioles. He also had a three-year stint serving as a coach in the Clark-Griffith League with the Maryland Battlecats and Takoma Park Thunderbolts where he helped coach Major Leaguers Mark Teixeira and Jonathan Papelbon.
Gardner earned two Bachelor of Arts degrees (Business Administration and Physical Education) from Catawba College in Salisbury, N.C. in 1993. He resides in Dover, Del. with his wife of 14 years Andrea, their two sons, Drew (12), and Cole (nine), and their daughter, Kendall (four).