Creighton baseball head coach Ed Servais stands quietly at the back of the baseball diamond watching over the practice. He analyzes each player as they take their batting practice and field grounders. He watches carefully to determine which players have put in the work.
What he sees from his players here at practice will determine his strategy for this weekend’s games.
His strategy could be the difference between a falter in momen- tum or building on the Bluejays’ hot 23-8 record.
Servais has been coaching the Jays for 15 seasons. In that time, he has become the winningest coach in program history with an overall record of 665-373-2 (.640).
Servais’ teams have consistently been among the nation’s best in fielding percentage. Since Ser- vais’s coaching era began in 2004, Creighton has committed the few- est errors in the nation, 679, while also leading the country with a .977 fielding percentage.
“We put a heavy emphasis on working, on developing as play- ers,” said Servais. “During the course of the year we try to get better through what we do in practice and we have been fortunate to be successful doing things this way.”
Coach Servais has taken Creighton to four NCAA Tournaments in 2005, 2007, 2011 and 2012. This season, as always, he hopes for a strong performance in the Big East conference tournament, and possibly another NCAA bid.
Servais hopes that Creighton will become a strong enough team that the road to the Big East tournament championship runs through them. He also hopes that Creighton will become a team that can consistently make it back to the regionals every year.
“For Creighton, St. John’s has been the team that has gotten in the way the last couple of years,” said Servais. “Once again, they will be the team we have to go through this year, however we do play them at home this year so that may help. But St. John’s has been the thorn in our side since we joined this league.”
So far this season Creighton has grown on the mound, getting more out of the freshman pitchers and seeing more leadership from the upperclassmen. This season also saw the addition of Jake Holton, a transfer student from Santa Barbara City College.
“We saw a little bit of him in the fall that we liked but he has done much more than we ever anticipated,” said Servais. “Right now, I would say the guy that impressed us the most that we didn’t really
know much about would be Jake.” Servais was named the 2011 MVC Coach of the Year, as he guided the Bluejays to the series sweeps of Indiana State, Bradley and Missouri State. In 2014 he received the Big East Coach of the Year. It was his fifth honor at the Division 1 level and seventh overall.
“He has learned to develop a structure and to develop values and morals within the players,” said assistant coach Eric Wordekemper. “And when you look at players that go one whether professionally or in the workforce they are always successful. Whether you have the talent or not, work ethic and working hard is the value that matters most to him.”
Under Servais’ leadership, Creighton has averaged 34.5 wins per season, but maybe more importantly, players move out into the world understanding and ob- taining the morals and values that matter in life after college.
“I would say work ethic would be priority number one and of course they all have to have some skill but work ethic is always really really important to me,” said Servais. “What I want these guys to learn and understand when they leave here is they have a pretty good chance to be successful in life if you have work ethic.”
Coach Servais doesn’t just coach baseball, he tries his best to make these players, these students, into good people who will go on into life and be successful in whatever area they choose. However, it can be easy to forget that these exceptional baseball players are also here at Creighton to get their degree, to graduate so they can move onto their careers.
“I have to remind myself that I have to allow them to do what they need to do academically to get their degree,” said Servais. “It is very important to me that these guys leave here not only with maybe a chance to continue to play baseball but to leave here with an understanding that they are now going to have to start their careers.”
This season Servais has led Creighton to 23-8 record. The decisions he makes often determine the players’ performances and whether Creighton wins or loses.
“He expects the best out of us and is not afraid to tell us when we are making mistakes,” said senior Jordan Hovey. “However, in my two years under him, I have liked how I have played and have seen a lot of improvement.”
Servais thought he would just be a high school teacher and coach, but he became a leader who inspires his players while also setting them up for success after Creighton.