The league also draws some of the top up and coming coaching talent from across the country who are looking to develop themselves, just like the players, into the future stars of the college and professional coaching ranks.The Northwoods League has become a hot bed for excellent coaching. Many of the league’s coaches were once MLB and Minor League Baseball players and coaches including Twins star Al Newman, Donnie Scott, Duffy Dyer and one is even the current skipper for the New York Mets, Terry Collins.
The Bismarck Larks named Sean Repay its Field Manager, who will recruit and coach the team through its inaugural season in 2017. Repay is currently the Associate Head Baseball Coach/Recruiting Coordinator at Lakeland University, a Division 3 program located in Plymouth, WI. He is in his 3rd season with the Muskies, who have seen a yearly increase in wins and roster size since Repay’s arrival. Prior to Lakeland University, Coach Repay coached two other collegiate programs. In 2013, Repay was the Pitching Coach/Assistant Recruiting Coordinator at Dominican College, a top Division 2 program in New York. He oversaw a pitching staff that led the conference and was one of the top in the nation with a 2.93 team ERA in conference play. In 2014, Repay moved on to the University of Antelope Valley, an NAIA program in Lancaster, California. His pitching staff posted a team 3.93 ERA when 25 of its 50 games were played against nationally ranked opponents.
Repay spent the last 3 summers coaching at the professional level. In 2014, he was named the Field Manager for the Bisbee Blue of the Pecos League where he led the team to a 33-30 record, one of the best seasons for an expansion franchise in league history. Nine of his players from that roster ended up moving to higher-level leagues, including pitcher Michael Heller who was signed by the San Francisco Giants. In 2015, he took a job as the Bullpen Coach for the Gary Southshore Railcats of the American Association. Repay oversaw a bullpen that finished statistically as one of the top bullpens in the AA in ERA and strikeout/walk ratio. The Railcats also saw many pitcher contracts purchased by MLB organizations with the likes of Alex Gunn (Diamondbacks), Spencer Mahoney (Yankees) and Matt Solter (Giants). Most recently, Repay served as Pitching Coach for the Florence Freedom of the Frontier League. The Freedom pitching staff was one of the top in the league in strikeouts and included player Matt Pobereyko, who was purchased by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Sean Repay resides in Plymouth, WI with his wife, Hope, and has 2 children (Nadia and Maddux). He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Loras College in 2008, where he played his collegiate baseball.
The Bismarck Larks named Brandon Nelson one of its Hitting Coaches, who will help with all things hitting throughout the inaugural season in 2017. Nelson currently coaches at Lakeland Univeristy in Plymouth, WI, along with Repay, where he works with Lakeland’s catchers and helps with hitting coach duties. In 2016, Nelson helped increase the Muskies team batting average to .277 where in the year prior the team finished at a .241 mark. In Nelson’s two years at Lakeland University, he has coached five total players to hit over .300 and one player to hit over .400.
Nelson played in the Pecos League which is an independent professional baseball league that has teams located all the way from California to Kansas. In the 2016 Pecos League season, Nelson hit .318 to go along with an impressive .429 OBP in 27 games for the Garden City Wind. Nelson’s baseball success started at a young age where he set hitting records in home runs, doubles, runs batted in, and batting average at his high school in Oklahoma.
Nelson resides in Plymouth, WI with his girlfriend Hannah.
The Bismarck Larks named Karsten Whitson as the Pitching Coach for the inaugural season in 2017. Whitson played at the University of Florida for three seasons and was a Freshman All-American with an 8-1 record and 2.40 ERA in 97 innings. In Whitson’s sophomore season in 2012, he went 4-0 with a 3.51 ERA. After missing his junior season as a Gator due to injury, Whitson posted a 3.86 ERA in 14 appearances in his senior season.
Whitson was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 11th round of the 2014 MLB Draft out of the University of Florida. In 2014, Whitson pitched seven innings for the Lowell Spinners, the Red Sox Class-A Short-Season team in the New York-Penn League.
Prior to attending Florida, Whitson played at Chipley High School in Chipley, Fla. and for the East Cobb Braves in the summers. Whitson was No. 3 on Baseball America’s Top 100 High School Prospects list after his senior season, and was drafted ninth-overall by the San Diego Padres in the 2010 MLB Draft.
The Larks have named Ryan Snyder as hitting coach for the team in its inaugural season in 2017. Snyder just finished his first season as a Graduate Assistant Coach in charge of Outfield and Hitting with the Division II Quincy University (Illinois) baseball team. He played two seasons for the QU Hawks before becoming a staff member.
In his final season at Quincy, Snyder broke QU single-season records for home runs (23), RBIs (88), and hits (92). He batted .444 that season, good for third in QU history. Snyder earned multiple postseason awards, including 1st Team All-American, Midwest Region Player of the Year, First Team All Midwest Region, and unanimous GLVC Player of the Year due to his senior season campaign.
Prior to attending QU, Snyder spent three seasons at the University of Central Missouri where he won two regular season MIAA titles and one MIAA conference tournament title.