A familiar face and one of the Hudson Valley's own is coming home to lead the Iona College baseball team.
Former Gaels hitting coach Paul Panik was named the sixth head baseball coach in Iona history, Athletic Director Matthew Glovaski announced on Monday, following a year as an assistant coach in the University at Albany.
Panik is a Dutchess County native who was a three-year starter at catcher for John Jay-East Fishkill High School, where he graduated in 2005. The two-time all-county selection went on to enjoy a standout career at Canisius College, where he was a starter his sophomore through senior seasons.
Like Iona, Canisius is a member of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
Panik's brother, Joe, is a second baseman for the San Francisco Giants.
Panik served as Iona’s hitting coach during its postseason run in 2017 and helped Albany to a 20-win season this past season and an appearance in the America East tournament, where the sixth-seeded Great Danes upset the third-ranked UMBC in the opening round.
According to Iona officials, in 2017, Panik “helped push the program to its first MAAC tournament berth since 2000 and a championship game appearance. The Gaels recorded a program record four wins at the tournament, before falling in the final. The Maroon & Gold earned 25 victories in 2017, an increase of 14 from the season before.
“Iona soared to new heights, not only as a team but offensively. The team batting average increased 17 points, slugging percentage by 24, while the team on-base percentage was raised by 38 points. Walks increased by 30 percent, while strikeouts were down by a half a strikeout per game.”
"I would like to thank Dr. Joseph E. Nyre, Matt Glovaski, and the search committee for allowing me this unbelievable opportunity to lead the Iona College baseball program," Panik said in a statement. "Having already spent time in the program, there is a special energy around this excellent group of young men. I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting to work to help the program succeed both on and off the field.”
Glovaski added that, “we are excited to have Paul join our staff as our new head baseball coach. Paul brings tremendous experience, passion and vision to the program, and I am eager to see the program succeed in all facets under his direction.”
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.