Former Defiance High School standout, Robert Zeigler, has jumped right into his new role as assistant baseball coach at Defiance College under head coach Derek Woodley.
After being approved to the position on Aug. 2, Woodley and Ziegler hit the road looking for potential prospects to add to the Yellow Jacket roster in the spring.
“It’s been great to work with coach Woodley because of his experience,” said Zeigler of the choice to join the DC staff. “He has 22 years of coaching under his belt. He will be a great person to learn from and teachings will continue to broaden my knowledge of the game. He has turned this program around and they had one of their best seasons in program history last year. I look forward to continuing that push to be a top program in our conference.”
Zeigler was formerly with the Midwest Stars as pitching coach.
He was a member of the 2013 Defiance Baseball state championship while earning Division II Player of the Year, being named to the Rawlings first team All-Region and was a Louisville Slugger and Under Armour All-American.
After high school, Zeigler attended the University of Kentucky before transferring to Kent State, earning All-MAC honors in 2017.
He holds an undergraduate degree in organizational communication and a Master of Arts in recreation from Kent State University.
His hire brings the Defiance native back to his roots with the potential to work very closely with his former mentor and coach, Tom Held.
“I couldn’t be more proud of Robert taking advantage of an opportunity to get his coaching career started,” stated Held. “It really is special as DC is my Alma Mater and Coach Woodley is a great friend of mine. I know Robert will make a difference at Defiance College with the pitching staff and the program.”
Held believes Woodley will be a perfect mentor for Ziegler.
“There isn’t a better person for Robert to learn from than Derek,” he explained. “I really look forward to learning more about pitching with and from Robert while he is here in Defiance.”
For Woodley, adding Ziegler to the staff, on more than one level, was a perfect fit for the Jackets.
“Rob’s experience speaks for itself, he has a genuine passion to get into coaching,” he said. “When I met with him it was obvious he had the passion. That was step one, I wanted a guy with passion. The fact that he’s a local guy and a very accomplished player who went on to pitch at a high level in college, will be beneficial to our players.”
Added Ziegler: “Just yesterday we spent about 3 hours on field work getting it prepped for fall ball to begin Sept. 9. With the help of some players, we were able to get the majority of the field de-weeded and edged. So between office work and outside of the office work, we have been working tirelessly to see that this program continues to rise and establish itself as a top contender in the HCAC.”
Ziegler’s past experiences along with a history in Northwest Ohio will give the Jackets an instant pipeline to the area.
“Arguably, he has pitched for two of the best pitching coaches in the area in Tom Held and Mike Birkbeck at Kent State,” added Woodley. “With his connections and his knowledge from those two, I felt he would be a perfect fit. I really thought with him being local, he would help us as we try to build this program.”
Job one for Ziegler will be his forte, coaching pitching, but with a small staff, he will also be asked to take on many different roles under Woodley.
“My first couple of weeks have been spent getting settled in and traveling to find future Yellow Jackets,” said Ziegler. “I’ve been to Dayton, Columbus, Kent, and Michigan twice to attend showcase events and find prospects. In addition, I’ve been working to develop a throwing and arm care program for my pitchers, a strength and conditioning program for all players.
“Coach Woodley and I also talked about ways we can utilize technology to give our players a competitive advantage. That came in the form of a rapsodo unit we recently purchased. This device will tell us measurables such as launch angle and exit velocity, so we can work to a hitters strengths and also find areas that need improving. “
“He’s going to work with our pitching staff, we have a very veteran group returning so that will be his priority,” explained Woodley. “But obviously, he’ll help with other things too, positionally with first baseman or outfielders and as a two-man staff, it’ll be a bit of everything”
When not coaching on the field, Ziegler will focus on adding prospects according to Woodley.
“Primarily he will be involved with recruiting,” he said. “I’m going to lean on him to get on the road, make phone calls and go and meet these athletes.”