One of the top pitching coaches and recruiters in the country, Rob Childress recently finished his seventh season as the head coach of the Texas A&M baseball program.
The Gilmer, Texas, native's expertise as a pitching coach is evident and has made an immediate impact as A&M's pitching staff has ranked first or second in the rugged Big 12 in earned run average in each of his seven seasons, including a Big 12-best 2.92 team ERA last spring.
This past season, Childress guided the Aggies to a school-record sixth consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament as A&M hosted an NCAA Regional in College Station for the second straight season.
In 2011, Childress captured co-Big 12 Coach of the Year honors as he led the Aggies to another milestone campaign as he guided the squad back to college baseball's promised land of Omaha, Neb., and the College World Series. The trip to Omaha was the fifth in program history and capped off another successful run in the NCAA Tournament.
The 2011 team also claimed the 23rd conference championship in program history as it brought home both the Big 12 regular season and tournament titles before emerging victorious in both the College Station Regional and Tallahassee Super Regional.
Additionally, the 2011 squad finished 14th in the country with a 2.90 team ERA, the Aggies' lowest since 1990 (2.80) while Childress' 2010 staff ranked 13th nationally at 3.70--the highest finish by an A&M staff in 16 years before last season.
A trio of Aggies (Tyler Naquin, Ross Stripling and Michael Wacha) garnered All-America honors in 2011 as Naquin was also named Big 12 Player of the Year while both Stripling and Wacha excelled on the mound under Childress' tutelage. Stripling blossomed during his third year in the A&M program as he led the nation in wins by turning in a 14-2 campaign with a 2.29 ERA.
Additionally, outfielder Krey Bratsen earned Freshman All-America accolades in his first season as a part of Childress' program.
During the 2011 season, Childress and the Aggies also accomplished something never done before in the program's 109-year history by earning a fifth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament. The 2011 campaign also saw Texas A&M claim 47 victories to surpass the 40-win plateau for the fourth time in five seasons.
Under Childress' guidance 2010 Aggies once again ascended to the top of the Big 12 as they claimed their another conference crown under Childress' direction when A&M won the league's postseason tournament. Along the way the Aggie pitching staff, led by All-Americans Barret Loux and John Stilson, ranked as one of the country's best, finishing atop the Big 12 and second nationally in strikeouts per nine innings (9.3). The Aggies' 612 strikeouts set a school record, topping the previous year's total of 568.
In 2009, Childress guided the Aggies to 37 wins and another trip to the postseason. The pitching staff set a then-school record with 568 strikeouts, leading the Big 12 and finishing seventh nationally with an average of 9.5 per nine innings.
Named the Big 12's Coach of the Year by his peers in 2008, Childress guided the Aggies to 46 wins, their first regular-season championship in nine years and the first back-to-back NCAA regional championships in school history. Along the way A&M set a new school and Big 12 record by winning 16 straight conference games.
After just one season at the helm, Childress orchestrated the biggest turnaround in NCAA Division I baseball. His 2007 team finished 48-19, winning 23 more games than in 2006, in addition to claiming the NCAA College Station Regional championship, a berth in the Super Regionals and the school's first Big 12 title since 1999.
Childress was named the 19th head baseball coach in school history on June 21, 2005, after spending the previous eight seasons at Nebraska--the first five as an assistant under current Arkansas Head Coach Dave Van Horn and the last three as an assistant with current NU skipper Mike Anderson. In those eight seasons, the Huskers made the NCAA Tournament five times, advanced to the Super Regionals four times and made three appearances in the College World Series (2001, 2002 and 2005).
Childress was a collegiate assistant coach for 14 seasons, including 10 years at the Division I level. He spent seven seasons at Nebraska overseeing the pitching staff and the Husker recruiting efforts after serving with Van Horn at Northwestern (La.) State from 1995 to 1997.
As a pitching coach, Childress has constructed his pitching staffs into some of the best in the nation. His teams have posted sub-4.50 ERAs in each of the past 12 seasons. The Nebraska pitching staff also turned in the top five single-season strikeout totals in school history under Childress' watch, including a school-record 538 strikeouts in 2005, while issuing fewer than three walks per game in his final five seasons in Lincoln.
Under his tutelage, 43 pitchers were drafted or signed as free agents over the last 14 seasons. In the last six years, 11 Aggie pitchers have been selected in the first 12 rounds of the Major League Baseball draft (Austin Creps, 6th round in 2006; David Newmann, 4th round, Kyle Nicholson, 7th round and Gary Campfield, 12th round in 2007; Kyle Thebeau, 9th round, and Alex Wilson, 10th round in 2008; Alex Wilson, 2nd round, and Brooks Raley, 6th round in 2009; Barrett Loux, 1st round in 2010; John Stilson, 3rd round, and Ross Stripling, 9th round, in 2011 ).
Over the past 11 seasons, Childress has coached 12 first-team All-Big 12 pitchers and 10 Freshman All-America hurlers. The list is headlined by Shane Komine, the only two-time All-American in Nebraska baseball history and a two-time Big 12 Pitcher of the Year. In fact, Childress has coached three Big 12 Pitchers of the Year (Komine in 2000 and 2001, Aaron Marsden in 2003), three Big 12 Newcomers of the Year (Joba Chamberlain in 2005, David Newmann in 2007 and John Stilson in 2010) and a Big 12 Freshman of the Year (Johnny Dorn in 2005). Not included in that group is Brooks Raley, who as one of the nation's top two-way players in 2009 earned first-team all-conference accolades and second-team All-America honors and Loux, who became the 6th overall pick of the 2010 MLB Draft after earning All-America honors for the Aggies in 2010.
In 2005, Childress' staff at Nebraska finished the season with a team ERA of 2.69, ranking in the top five nationally and at the top of the Big 12. In 2004, Nebraska tied for second in the Big 12 and was 25th nationally with a 3.76 ERA. In 2003, the Husker pitching staff guided Nebraska to 47 wins and the school's second Big 12 regular-season title in three years. The Huskers ranked second in the Big 12 with a 3.79 ERA, while ranking first or second in the league in seven categories, including a league-high five shutouts.
Nebraska's pitching depth carried the Huskers to 47 wins and a second straight College World Series appearance in 2002. The Huskers finished second in the Big 12 and 15th nationally with a 3.66 team ERA, while ranking first or second in the league in four categories, including ERA, complete games (nine, first), shutouts (five, second) and opposing batting average (.250, second).
The Husker pitching staff was instrumental in leading NU to its first regular-season conference title in 51 years in 2001 and in 2000, the Huskers led the nation with a 3.14 ERA. In 1999, the Huskers posted a 5.50 ERA, the lowest NU mark since 1994 at the time, and struck out a then-school-record 438 batters in 526 2/3 innings of action. Despite joining the staff 34 days before the 1998 season opener, Childress' impact was immediate, as Husker pitchers allowed just 236 earned runs, the fewest in seven years, and lowered the team ERA by nearly a run per game.
In his final season as the pitching coach at Northwestern State in 1997, Childress' staff had a 4.20 ERA and held opponents to a .268 batting average. He coached former major leaguer Brian Lawrence, who became the first Demon baseball player to reach the Major Leagues since 1954. In 1996, the Demons' staff owned a 4.66 ERA and held opponents to a .259 batting average. At Northwestern State, Childress handled the pitching coach duties, and was also responsible for recruiting, field maintenance, fund-raising, academic advisement and coordinating camps.
Childress and Van Horn first teamed up at Texarkana College during the 1991 and 1992 seasons. During that span, the Bulldogs were 93-22, winning the league title in 1991. Following the two seasons as an assistant at Texarkana, Childress was an assistant coach at his alma mater Northwood University. In 1994, he returned to Texarkana as the head coach and finished with an impressive 43-10 record in his only season as coach.
Before his coaching career, Childress, who graduated from Harmony High School in Gilmer, Texas, attended Northwood where he was twice named an all-conference pitcher. Northwood won two NAIA conference championships during his career and was runner-up at the regional tournament once. Childress was elected the school's Academic Athlete of the Year as a sophomore and senior. Along with his collegiate coaching experience, Childress coached the Texarkana Mavericks to a 31-10 record in summer league play in 1991.
Childress graduated with a bachelor's degree in business administration from Northwood in 1990 and earned a master's degree of science from East Texas State (now TAMU-Commerce) in 1994. He and his wife Amanda (A&M Class of 1992) have a daughter, Hannah, 15, and a son Maxwell, 9, who serves as a bat boy for the Aggies.