Mike GillespieHead Coach/Asst AD
Alma Mater: Southern Wesleyan University, 1993
Office Phone: 864-644-5304
Head Baseball Coach Mike Gillespie is entering his 17th season at Southern Wesleyan University. Prior to his stint here at SWU, he was an assistant baseball coach at Pickens High School. Gillespie entered SWU as an assistant in the fall of 1996 and was promoted to head coach for the spring of 1997.
Gillespie played three years for then Central Wesleyan College (Southern Wesleyan University), after transferring from Western Carolina in January of 1990. While at CWC he was a two-time captain and also earned All-District honors.
Gillespie inherited a program that had seen four head coaching changes within a span of four years. The rebuilding process started and was slow on the outset.
"I can still remember meeting with each recruit and his family that first year," stated Gillespie. "I told all of them that they would probably never get the recognition they would deserve once we got the program back on it's feet. I will never forget that first class and what they mean to this baseball program. They are the foundation of what we have going."
Academics is a major priority with the SWU baseball program and that is evident by the continued growth in the squad's GPA. An Academic Support System, created in 2000 for the baseball program, has been instrumental in keeping graduation rates high. The team's grade point average has risen from a 2.23 in the spring of 2000 to a 3.08 in the spring of 2002. This past season's total was just under 3.0, keeping that consistent for over 12 years.
Many facility improvements have been made under the direction of Gillespie since 1998. The addition of a sheltered batting cage,improvements to the outfield fence, dugouts, and surrounding bank are several of the minor improvements to the facility. Lights were installed for the 2002 season and a small clubhouse was constructed for the 2004 season. Through the aid of dedicated Warrior fans, the baseball program experienced an incredible upgrade in 2006 with the Baseball Stadium Project. This project, with first phase being dedicated on April 8, 2006, now boasts a presidential suite that includes a climate-controlled viewing area and private box seating. The improved baseball facility also includes restrooms, a concession area and a press box. This project was made possible through the vision, contributions and donations of many local businesses and individuals in the Central/Clemson community and beyond.
The baseball program has also seen improvements in the won-loss column as the Warriors tied the school record for wins in 2001 with 23 on the season. In 2004, the baseball program broke the school record with an 11-0 win over Southern Polytechnic on March 26, 2004. The 2004 team finished the season with 29 wins. In 2007, the squad set yet another record as they won their 30th game of the season, defeating Shorter College 14-1 on April 14, 2007. This team went on to win the NCCAA National Championship on May 19, 2007 as they defeated Faulkner University 9-6. That win in the championship game was the 40th of the season, shattering the single season wins record of 29 set back in 2004.
"Everything involved, from winning the National Championship, to setting the school record for wins, to watching the Stadium Project from ground up has been the total dedication of so many people," stated Gillespie. "I have always told our players that everyone involved from day one of this baseball program can be proud of all the accomplishments we have noted over the course of the program's inception back in the late 80's. So many people have dedicated many years to what we have now. God has blessed us and He has definitely enlarged our territory. The greatest thing about it all is that there is so much more out there for us to experience."
Since 2001, Gillespie has watched several former players continue their playing career after SWU. Former players Luke Syfert(2001), Blake Honeycutt(2003), David Travis(2004), Justin McKim(2004), Wes Thompson(2004), Kyle Kmiecik(2004), Kellen Kmiecik(2008), Dustin Smith(2008) and Kody Hightower(2008) have all made their way into the professional ranks.
Numerous players have received All-Conference and All-Region selections under the direction of Gillespie. All-American selections have gone to Chris Heller(2001) with the honor of NAIA Academic All-American, David Travis(2004) being named NAIA All-American Honorable Mention and in 2007 the selection of Ben Douglas(2007) and Davey Blackburn(2008) to the Daktronics-NAIA Scholar Athlete team. Douglas and Blackburn were also named to the NCCAA Academic All-American team and Kody Hightower(2008) was selected to the 2007 NCCAA All-American squad. In 2008 the Warriors had Blackburn(2008) and Guy Howard(2008) named to the Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete team and Hightower again picked up national honors in the NCCAA and also 2nd team NAIA All-American. In 2009 Jason Garner was selected as Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete, marking the third year in a row a SWU baseball student-athlete has received the honor.
In 2003, Gillespie was named SWU Staff Member of the Year and in 2004 he was named the Georgia Alabama Carolina Conference Baseball Coach of the Year and also the Men's Sports Coach of the Year within the conference. 2007 brought on the NCCAA National Coach of the Year.
Gillespie served two years in 2005 and 2006 as the Baseball Chair in the Southern States Athletic Conference and currently serves on the rating committee.
His outreach in the local community is noted as well with the direction of a summer baseball camp series, founder of Baseball & Books and the Chapter Captain of the local All Pro Dad organization that sees Tony Dungy as the National Spokesperson. The SWU baseball program has initiated "Soup by the Field" in 2008 to help serve those in need within the local community.
In the summer of 2008 Gillespie coached the AIA Fire in the Alaska Baseball League. The Fire is one of several teams that is associated with Athletes in Action.
Gillespie is married to Tammy L. Gillespie and they reside in Pickens, S.C. with their three children, Kirkland(13), Kaylee(10) and Kaci(3).