By Logan VanDine
The Rider baseball team’s hitting Coach Lee Lipinski has been a part of the program for the last 10 seasons, including five as an assistant coach.
Now, Lipinski is opening up about how he first got into baseball, why he chose to play at Rider and the success he has seen as a hitting coach over the last few seasons.
“I started playing when I was about 7 years old. Baseball is the kind of sport that I chose to play and could only play because I had a heart condition,” Lipinski said.
“I had a bad valve. If I had too much strenuous activity the heart would work too much,” the well-respected hitting coach said. “So I actually got a valve replacement surgery when I was 13 years old but at that point, I was already pretty much full-tilting to baseball.”
The Baltimore native, whose primary position was catcher, spoke about what brought him to Rider to play at a collegiate level.
“Rider has a very rich baseball tradition. Coach [Barry] Davis sold me on it. This is my 10th year here, so I have been with Coach Davis for 10 years and I was lucky enough to be around good baseball minds, and Coach Davis is above and beyond all of them, and just learning from him was something that made me want to come,” the former team captain said.
Lipinski played five seasons for the Broncs and compiled a solid resume. He batted .237 overall, hit 14 home runs, drove in 80 RBIs and was a part of three Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) tournament appearances.
Lipinski reflected on one fond moment he had playing on the team.
“In 2017, it was my fifth year and we had an up-and-down year and we were playing Youngstown State,” Lipinski said. “We needed Canisius to beat Niagara two out of three to get into the tournament, and we finished our series with Youngstown, played them well, and we were sitting at an Outback Steakhouse and watching the live stats and, we saw that Canisius won on a walk-off hit, and we all went crazy.”
When he left Rider, Lipinski still desired to be close to the field and involved in baseball.
“Initially, I really wanted to teach high school and coach high school baseball,” he said. “Probably my sophomore and junior year, I kinda expressed that I wanted to coach after playing, and I expressed that to Coach Davis, and he was pretty interested in keeping me on and I graduated in 2016, played in 2017 as my fifth year and 2018 was my first year coaching.”
Now as the hitting coach, the Broncs have had a breakout season in terms of offensive production with the team scoring ten runs or more in two of their three-game series against St. John’s on April 1 and 2.
Junior infielder Luke Lesch praised Lipinski as the hitting coach.
“I think he’s a big factor why we have had some success offensively this year so far. Whenever we are hitting during practice, he is always putting us in game situations to put pressure on us, so when the real game comes, it feels like we have been there before,” Lesch said.
Junior outfielder Brendan O’Donnell talked about how great Lipinski has been to him personally and for the entire team.
“Coach Lipinski is the type of coach who is willing to work with anybody on any part of their game. Personally, he’s been a huge help to me with the mental side of my game. He also played at this level, so having someone who’s been in our shoes and has experienced similar situations, [which] allows him to better understand where we as players are physically and mentally,” O’Donnell said.
With all the praise Lipinski receives as the hitting coach, he still thinks it’s a team effort.
“It’s definitely a team effort. Our guys are borderline addicted to hitting. I was in our indoor facility on Monday, and that’s our off day, and a couple guys asked me to come hit with them at 2 p.m. and I came back at 8 p.m. and the same guys were still there, so they’re dedicated,” Lipinski said.
Davis, who has been the head coach at Rider for almost two decades, said how much of an asset Lipinski is to the program.
“I turned the hitting coaching responsibilities over to him once he started coaching with us in 2018. He has improved greatly as a coach, and our team’s success at the plate is a reflection of his tutelage,” he said.
Lipinski found a home in Rider and hopes to coach at his alma mater for years on.
“I love it here. I’m comfortable here. This is home for me,” Lipinski said. “I moved up here in 2013 from Baltimore not knowing anybody or anything about New Jersey, and this has been home for me for the last 10 years, and as long as they’ll have me, I’ll stay and I’ll help us to the best of my ability.”