The Rochester Honkers on Tuesday named 27-year-old Paul Weidner as the 18th field manager in franchise history, marking a substantial step in preparation for the 2021 Northwoods League season.
“It’s an incredible opportunity,” Weidner said of receiving the position. “The track record of the organization [and] the success that they’ve had on the field is a tradition of winning, and that’s something that I want to be able to continue to do. I know that aligns with what the community is expecting. Putting a product on the field that they can be proud of is really important to me.”
Weidner currently serves as a volunteer assistant coach at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb. where he acts as the team’s first base coach, but also works as an assistant hitting coach and leads the development of Blue Jays outfielders. Under Weidner’s leadership, the Blue Jays returned to the NCAA Tournament in 2019 for the first time since 2012 by clinching the BIG EAST’s automatic bid. While there, they eliminated the then-defending College World Series champions, Oregon State, on the road. Weidner and the Creighton staff were awarded the conference’s Coaching Staff of the Year award.
The former outfielder brings experience from the summer collegiate landscape as well, having assisted the Cotuit Kettleers of the Cape Cod League in 2018 before signing on in Nebraska — something Honkers general manager Jeremy Aagard found particularly attractive about Weidner’s resume.
“Paul’s experience in coaching summer collegiate baseball will make this a smooth transition for our players,” said Aagard. “He will bring an exciting brand of baseball to our city and be an integral part in our effort to ingratiate our players in the community. The Honkers are ready to get back to our winning ways and Paul will be guiding us to greatness every step of the way.”
Well prior to his time at Creighton and in the Cape, though, Weidner grew up less than an hour’s drive away from Mayo Field in downtown Rochester. A native of Randolph, Minn., the 2011 graduate of Randolph High School acknowledges how special it is to be leading a franchise so close to his roots.
“It means a lot. There are a lot of summer ball towns in this league and throughout the country. I feel so lucky to be coaching in one that I’m so familiar with and feel very connected to,” he said.
It’s not the first time Weidner will coach close to home, as he spent three years on the staff of his alma mater shortly after graduating from Bethel University in St. Paul in 2015. After the 2021 spring season concludes in Omaha, Weidner will return to serve as an assistant coach on the Royals staff, working with all hitters and defensively with the outfielders.
Weidner also made note of the emphasis he intends to put on positively impacting the Rochester community during his tenure in the Med City, saying that he wants his players to be exemplars of good character on the way to making a difference.
“At the end of the day, what we’re doing is bringing a bunch of elite college players together to play a game in which they’re gonna develop. But, when you take a step back and you think about what it means in the grand scheme of things, if those players are role models for the people in the community, — if our team is something that the community can be proud of — that’s how you make an impact with the position that you’re in.
“My job is to play winning baseball… but I look at it as a facet of how we can fit into the community at large. If they don’t embrace us and what we are, then those things don’t carry weight. It doesn’t matter. And so we need to make sure that matters so that we can have that impact.”
Coach Cribby comes to Rochester from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wa. where he is an assistant coach. Cribby is also the head coach of the Washington A’s, an 18-and-under club baseball organization in Seattle. This summer, coach Cribby will serve as the hitting coach and bench coach for the Honkers. He played collegiately at Columbia Basin College before earning his degree in finance from the University of Washington. Coach Cribby and his wife Katarina have one daughter, Sóley, born in 2020.
Coach Dahlke is completing his masters degree in Coaching from Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, Minn., where he serves as SMSU’s pitching coach. He played collegiately for Augustana University where he won the Division-II College World Series during his time as a Viking. In Rochester, Coach Dahlke will take on the duties of pitching coach and will oversee all pitching development for the summer.
Coach Morris comes to Rochester from Monroe College in Bronx, N.Y. where he currently serves as the team’s hitting coach and third base coach. He also oversees the strength and conditioning program at Monroe College for the baseball team and works for Unlimited Action Sports in their baseball facility in Long Island, N.Y. For the Honkers, Joe will be an assistant hitting coach, coach first base, and will assist players with their strength and conditioning programs if they desire.