IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa head baseball coach Rick Heller rounded out his coaching staff with the additions of Greg Byron as volunteer assistant coach and former Hawkeye Matt Wooldrik as director of baseball operations/director of the Iowa Baseball Academy.
“I am really excited to add Greg and Matt to our coaching staff,” said Heller. “Both are tremendous additions and will be assets to our program.”
Byron joins the program after helping guide Central Arkansas to the NCAA Regionals in 2013 as volunteer assistant/pitching coach, while Wooldrik has served as an assistant coach at Regina (Iowa) High School since 2008.
During his lone season in Conway, Ark., Byron helped lead the Bears to a school-record 42 victories. Central Arkansas won the Southland Conference Tournament as the seventh seed by winning five consecutive elimination games.
The Bears went on to post a 3-2 record in the Starkville Regional, posting victories over No. 12 Mississippi State and a pair of conference champions in South Alabama and Mercer. UCA finished the year ranked No. 25 in the Collegiate Baseball poll.
Three Central Arkansas players were selected in the 2013 MLB First-Year Player Draft, including left-handed pitcher Jeffery Enloe, who was taken in the 37th round by the San Diego Padres.
“Greg did a fantastic job at Central Arkansas last season, and we are extremely happy to have him on our staff at Iowa,” said Heller. “He is an outstanding coach and teacher. Greg will work with our catchers and help (assistant coach Scott) Brickman with our pitchers.”
Following the 2013 season, Byron served as the pitching coach for the Thunder Bay Border Cats in the Northwoods Prospects League. He has also served as associate head coach/pitching coordinator for the Ontario Blue Jays from 2008-12, and was a graduate assistant at Bethany (Kan.) College in 2008-09.
Byron also attended Scout School for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011, threw batting practice for the MLB Pre-Draft Camp at the Rogers Centre in 2010 and assisted in gathering information for the Blue Jays’ draft eligible collection in 2009-10.
Byron played professional baseball from 2009-11, playing for the Lake Erie Crushers (2009), Quebec Les Capitales and Washington Wild Things (2010) and New York Federals (2011).
During his playing career at Bethany College, Byron posted an 11-1 record and led the NAIA with a 1.30 ERA as a senior. He was selected as a 2008 NAIA All-American, while being named a KCAC first team all-conference and first team all-region IV selection. As a junior, Byron went 9-3 at Kansas Wesleyan, leading the Coyotes to back-to-back KCAC Conference Tournament titles.
Byron earned bachelor degrees in business management from Bethany College in 2009 and an associate’s degree from Cerro Coso Junior College.
During Wooldrik’s coaching stint at Regina, he helped guide the team to three Cedar Valley Conference titles (2010-12) and a runner-up finish in 2013. During the 2011 season, Regina was sub-state runner-up, which included a loss to eventual state champion, Davis County.
”Matt is a talented and hard-working professional, who will be a great addition to our staff,” said Heller. “He will do a tremendous job in our baseball operations position and running the Iowa Baseball Academy.”
Wooldrik competed as an outfielder for the Hawkeyes from 2003-07. During his senior season, he started 44 games, hitting .323 (51-of-158) with 22 runs and 22 RBIs and 10 doubles.
Iowa went 31-23 during the season — the best record in a decade — which included a school-record 12 straight wins, 10 of which were Big Ten games. The Hawkeyes hit .325 as a team to rank in the top-15 nationally and their .425 on-base percentage ranked in the top-20 in the country.
Wooldrik, an Iowa City native, prepped at Iowa City High, where he earned 13 athletic letters. He earned his bachelor’s degree in management organization and finance from the University of Iowa in 2007.