ORONO – The energetic Steve Trimper wasted no time Thursday afternoon getting to work as the head baseball coach at the University of Maine.
With his Black Bears baseball cap in hand, the 35-year-old Trimper began making cell phone calls as he strode around the parking lot outside Mahaney Clubhouse.
He also planned to visit Mansfield Stadium in Bangor to watch some Senior League World Series action before heading to Wareham, Mass., for a baseball showcase on Friday.
UMaine interim athletic director Blake James introduced Trimper as the school’s coach during a press conference in Palmer Lounge.
“It’s just an unbelievable feeling,” Trimper said. “I have goosebumps just being in this room, and with all the support that Maine baseball brings.”
The New Jersey native replaces Paul Kostacopoulos, who resigned in June to become the head coach at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., after guiding the Bears to a 284-195 record and two NCAA Tournament appearances during his nine seasons in Orono.
Trimper comes to UMaine from Division I Manhattan College in Riverdale, N.Y. There, he directed the Jaspers to a 172-174-2 record in seven seasons. Manhattan won at least 20 games each year, including a school-record 32 in 2002, when Trimper was named the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Coach of the Year.
The Jaspers made MAAC Tournament appearances in each of the last three seasons.
“We looked for someone that had head coaching experience, someone who was a winner, and someone who was going to be able to understand what Maine baseball was all about and really be able to carry on the tradition and success of our program,” James said.
James said Trimper, who also served as Manhattan’s director of marketing for athletics, has agreed in principle to a four-year contract that will pay him $70,000 during 2005-06. Kostacopoulos would have earned $78,100 at UMaine.
Trimper’s upbeat approach and friendly demeanor were evident during Thursday’s introductory session.
“He’s a great guy to talk to; he’s very passionate about this program, his sport,” James said. “We just really felt he was the best fit for what we needed here to continue on the success we’ve had and build that tradition.”
Trimper’s goal is to maintain UMaine’s status as a league and regional power while helping the program achieve even loftier goals. He hopes to accomplish that by stressing intensity.
“You can’t be afraid to fail,” he said of one of his primary philosophies. “The other theory is to keep it fun. When kids are having fun, they play hard and they buy into the system.”
Trimper hopes the Bears will embrace his work ethic and aggressiveness every time they take the field.
“I’m going to demand that these guys respect the game and play hard,” said Trimper, who was an assistant coach at the University of Vermont for four seasons before taking the Manhattan job.
“I like to outhustle and outplay everybody,” he said. “We’re going to step off the bus and we’re going to show that we can play.”
Trimper inherits a UMaine team that is coming off one of its best seasons in years. The Bears return 20 letterwinners, including four pitching notables and six positional starters, from the 35-19 squad that earned the America East title and won an NCAA Regional game in Mississippi.
“I’m not going to say you can’t get to Omaha [for the College World Series] in this day and age,” Trimper said. “I’m taking this job saying I’m going to go and do everything I can to do that.”
Trimper began his coaching career with two years as the associate head coach at Wentworth Institute of Technology from 1993-94. He is a 1992 graduate of Eastern Connecticut State University, where he earned a physical education degree and competed on the Warriors’ NCAA Division III national championship team. He spent three years at ECSU after helping Elon College reach the NAIA nationals in 1989.
“He will bring a lot of enthusiasm to the Maine program,” said Vermont coach Bill Currier. “The conference is getting another great coach in Steve Trimper.”
Trimper, who added a master’s degree in administration while at Vermont, resides in Patterson, N.Y., with his wife Lisa and twin 5-year-old daughters Ally and Morgan.