It’s no ‘Shocker’ – Standiford is making history as Tabor baseball coach

When Mark Standiford was named head baseball coach at Tabor College, I thought, “That sure sounds like a good hire. He probably won’t be here long, but it’s bound to be good in the short run.”

Boy, was I ever wrong! Not that he wasn’t a good hire, because he clearly was, but that it would only be for a short time.

Standiford is entering his 16th year as the head baseball coach at Tabor this spring. Who knew that the former Wichita State baseball star would find Tabor as a landing spot in his coaching career?

“I have enjoyed my time at Tabor,” said Standiford. “I feel we have built the program into a national competitor, and the program continues to move in the right direction. It would be hard to leave a place that you built up and put so much time and effort in to get it to where we are today.

“I have had other opportunities to move on and coach at other places. There are a lot of factors that go into a decision like that. First, my family and business are in Wichita. Leaving would mean selling and upending a lot of people. Tabor is a great college, and I believe in what it stands for,” said Standiford.

Recruiting student-athletes is a universal challenge for college coaches. And recruiting those athletes to play baseball at a small private college in Hillsboro certainly qualifies as a challenge.

Standiford says there are many things that make recruiting hard, but most are out of his control. “We are blessed to have a good name nationally, and we can recruit on our past success,” he said. “I have very good assistant coaches who do an outstanding job of identifying potential recruits and selling both the academic and athletic side of Tabor. Both in my mind are outstanding.”

Another challenge facing nearly all athletic programs is having enough money to build adequate facilities.

“We have a constant battle to expand and make our facilities better,” said Standiford. “We have had many outstanding donors step up and help the baseball program, but we are always trying to improve. Our conference has put a lot of resources into baseball, and it is a challenge to keep up.”

If money were no object, Standiford shared that he would like to have a new baseball complex that is all turf. “Our current field takes a real beating in the fall and does not have time to recover before spring games begin,” he said. “With a roster of 65-70 student-athletes, it makes it tough to maintain a nice natural surface.”

When looking back over his career at Tabor up to now, Standiford appreciates many things that go far beyond the final score and winning a lot of games.

“I’ve been blessed to see players go on and become good fathers and be successful in whatever career choices they have taken,” said Standiford. “Also, it is a joy to see players grow as Christians and followers of Christ.

“Making it to the College World Series in 2014 and 2015 was a great career highlight and experience, and being able to have some sort of positive influence on so many outstanding student-athletes has been amazing,” said Standiford.

Standiford and his wife, Renee, have been married for 34 years. Mark is quick to point out how patient and supportive Renee has been during his coaching career.

The couple has one son, Blake, and a daughter, Taylor. Taylor attended Tabor for two years and played volleyball, while Blake attended four years and graduated from Tabor.

Mark and Renee also have two grandsons — Jett and Bennett Jones.

To some degree, coaching baseball at Tabor has turned into a family affair, as one of the assistant coaches is Standiford’s son-in-law, Jake Jones, Taylor’s husband.

When it comes to successful coaches and programs, in the case of Mark Standiford, Tabor hit a home run!

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