NMJC Names New Head Baseball Coach
6/28/2007 6:11:09 p.m. - Hobbs, NM. When New Mexico Junior College's legendary baseball coach Ray Birmingham was recently tapped by the University of New Mexico to head up the Lobo program, many people wondered where the junior college would find someone who could measure up. NMJC had it covered. In fact, they found someone who could not only hold his own but who had also defeated Birmingham's Thunderbirds -- not once, but five times in two seasons!
In a specially called meeting on Thursday, June 28, the NMJC Board approved Cory L. Hall as the new NMJC Thunderbird head coach. Hall, who has served as defensive coach at NMJC for the past two years, had previously served as assistant coach at Western Illinois University (NCAA D-I) and, prior to that, as head coach at Clarendon [Texas] College (NJCAA D-I), one of the smallest junior colleges in one of the smallest towns in the NJCAA. In his first season as head coach at Clarendon, the team finished with a 43-13 record and was ranked 10th in the nation, garnering the first national rankings in the school's history. His team also earned the division championship -- and defeated NMJC four times, which finished second that year. In the National Regional tournament, Hall led Clarendon to a third place finish, the highest ever for the Bulldogs.
Prior to serving as head coach at Clarendon, Hall was assistant coach there, where he helped lead the team to a Division Championship and their first ever National Regional tournament appearance.
But coaching wasn't his first visit to the JUCO championship in Grand Junction, Colorado. Having learned firsthand about hard work and commitment on his grandparents' farm in Oklahoma, Hall played ball in 1995 for Seminole Junior College in Oklahoma, where he experienced his first taste of world series play with the Seminole Trojans. Red shirted in 1996, Hall transferred in 1997 to Hill College in Texas, where he again competed in the JUCO world series.
Hall completed his education at Northwestern Oklahoma State University (NAIA), earning his Bachelor of Science in Health and Physical Education Degree in 2000, as well as his Master of Education Degree in 2002. There, Hall began his first college position, serving as pitching coach and recruiting coordinator and helping lead the Rangers to a school record of 49 wins and a national NAIA ranking of 7th in the nation, as well as their first ever NAIA National Regional Tournament appearance.
In addition to coaching and assisting in a number of American Legion state and national regional tournaments, Hall has also served as an assistant coach in the Texas Junior College All-Star Games and as an Oklahoma State University Baseball Camp pitching instructor. He has also coached numerous NAIA and NJCAA All-Americans, as well as players who have signed professional contracts, and has a proven record as a recruiting coach and fundraiser.
According to Dr. Steve McCleery, President of NMJC, Hall is the ideal candidate. "Cory Hall is an outstanding young man who brings a wealth of baseball experience at both the four-year level and at the junior college level. And as the assistant coach here at NMJC for the last two years, he understands Thunderbird baseball inside and out. He understands the pressure to win, and he understands that he's replacing a legend. With the many skill sets that he brings, Cory Hall is definitely the right person to take over."
Richard Morris, who will be stepping down as Athletic Director in the fall, agrees. "Cory brings the kind of experience and talent that is critical for maintaining and developing Thunderbird baseball's winning program. Here at the college, he's made all his own decisions and has done a fantastic job as pitching /defensive coach and recruiting coordinator. I have no doubt that he's the perfect choice for this high profile position."
As for the new head coach of the New Mexico Junior College baseball team, he wants it known that he doesn't intend to tinker much with the way that Thunderbird baseball is played. "I'm a pitching guy," said Hall, "and while there may be a little more emphasis on pitching, there won't be many significant changes. We've worked out a winning formula these last few seasons, and we just want to improve on that. I like the challenge of keeping Thunderbird baseball in the national spotlight. It's where we belong."
Nicely spoken for someone who defeated the Thunderbirds in conference play. Five times.