By STEVE KRAH
Paul Twenge was head baseball coach at Valparaiso (Ind.) University for 19 seasons (1988-2006). He is the Crusaders’ all-time leader in games won (378) and games coached (1,011). Second on that list is Emory G. Bauer with 359 wins and 606 games.
Before leading teams at the NCAA Division I level, Twenge was head coach at Anoka-Ramsey Community College in Coon Rapids, Minn., where he earned 122 victories. The 1985 team won a Minnesota state title and qualified for the National Junior College Athletic Association region tournament.
Since leaving Valpo, Twenge has been the head baseball coach at Minnetonka High School on the southwest side of Minneapolis.
Using his college experience and the lessons he’s learned from other professional and college coaches, he guides the Skippers in Minnesota State High School League play. Competing in the state’s largest class, Minnetonka (enrollment around 3,000) was a Class 4A state runner-up in 2018.
Twenge was presented with the American Baseball Coaches Association/Diamond National High School Division I Coach of the Year award at the 2019 ABCA Convention in Dallas.
“It’s crazy to believe you’re the one they picked out of 15,000 coaches,” says Twenge.
Attending and often speaking at events like the ABCA Convention in January, Minnesota State High School Baseball Coaches Association clinic in October and others, Twenge finds ways to keep things current for his Minnetonka players.
“We try to add something new,” says Twenge. “So the information doesn’t go stale, we find a different way of saying it.
“An athlete does not know what they don’t know. If you never introduce it to them, they’ll never understand it. Certain aspects are similar on all three levels (pro, college, high school). I’m a big proponent from learning at the highest level and applying it where I’m at.”
It’s all about the Baseball I.Q of his players.
“We want them to understand the game,” says Twenge. “When our athletes leave here for college, they have a good foundation for that coach to build on.
“Hopefully, that athlete will be easier to coach. Hopefully, they can learn at a higher speed.”
Twenge oversees a program with up to 90 players. The Skippers field five teams — varsity, junior varsity, sophomore, freshmen A and freshmen B.
“You better be coordinated or you’re going to cause a lot of issues,” says Twenge, whose teams have two turf fields on-campus, which helps in Minnesota’s typically-cool and damp spring climate. “We’re not fighting the elements. If the temperature is 35, we’re playing — as long as there’s no lightning.”
Twenge notes one of the differences between high school baseball in Minnesota and Indiana.
“The developmental process in Indiana allows a little longer time than we have,” says Twenge. “It comes sooner and lasts longer.
“Generally speaking, we’re about three weeks behind Indiana.”
Starting the last week of March and finishing the third week of June, Minnetonka plays at least 22 regular-season games plus the state tournament series. If the Skippers make it through the sectional, they advance to the state finals.
Besides being head baseball coach, Twenge is his school’s activities coordinator.
“Our goal of Minnetonka is to have as many students as possible involved in an activity,” says Twenge.
On the sports side, hockey is huge. The Skippers won a Class 2A state boys championship on the ice in 2018. No. 1-ranked Minnetonka has been invited to participate in Hockey Day Minnesota Saturday, Jan. 19 in Bemidji.
At a school that has crossover athletes, Twenge welcomes some hockey players to the diamond in the spring.
“Baseball is a down time for them,” says Twenge. “They’re on elite (hockey teams) in the summer.”
Twenge, who played baseball and football at Mayville State University in North Dakota and earned his masters degree from South Dakota State University, still keeps tabs on Indiana.
“We lived there 19 years,” says Twenge. “You check on your friends to see how they’re doing and hopefully they’re doing well.”
Paul and Dawn Twenge have three adult children. Alyson Twenge is a teacher in California and a former diver at South Dakota State. Both sons live in Minnesota. Alex Twenge is a chiropractor and former baseball player at the University of North Dakota. Axel Twenge is hoping to apply to law school soon. He played baseball at North Dakota State University.
Since the 2007 season, Paul Twenge has been the head baseball coach at Minnetonka High School in Minnesota. He was head baseball coach at Valparaiso (Ind.) University for 19 seasons (1988-2006).
Paul Twenge was presented with the American Baseball Coaches Association National High School Division I Coach of the Year award at the 2019 ABCA Convention in Dallas.