Colin Kaline enjoying his ride as OU baseball co-head coach

By: Mark Vest | C&G Newspapers | Published April 11, 2019

 Oakland University baseball co-head coach Colin Kaline would like to help lead Oakland to the program’s first appearance in the NCAA tournament since going Division I in 1999.

Oakland University baseball co-head coach Colin Kaline would like to help lead Oakland to the program’s first appearance in the NCAA tournament since going Division I in 1999.

Photo provided by Jose Juarez

 Oakland University freshman Nino Puckett plays during a game against Eastern Michigan University earlier this season.

Oakland University freshman Nino Puckett plays during a game against Eastern Michigan University earlier this season.

Photo provided by Jose Juarez

ROCHESTER HILLS — After becoming the co-head coach of Oakland University’s baseball program more than three years ago, 2007 Birmingham Groves graduate Colin Kaline said, “We’re just thrilled to be here.”

Along with Jacke Healey, Kaline is now in his third season leading the Golden Grizzlies, and his enthusiasm for the job doesn’t seem to have waned.

“I love my job here,” Kaline said. “Growing up in this area, my wife as well, us being able to move home with our young daughter, and the familiarity to the area has made the transition really easy. I love the university as a whole.”

Before coming to Oakland, Kaline’s journey included playing for Florida Southern College and being drafted by the Detroit Tigers, which is the organization that employed his grandfather, Al Kaline, whose career accomplishments earned him a spot in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.

Colin Kaline spent two years in the Tigers organization before becoming part of the coaching staff for the Gulf Coast League Tigers and Florida Southern.

For as much as he has enjoyed his time at Oakland, there is still some unfinished business that Kaline would like to attend to.

During his tenure, the program has yet to qualify for the NCAA tournament. In fact, that feat has never been accomplished during the program’s Division I era, which began in 1999.

If the Golden Grizzlies win the Horizon League Tournament, they would receive an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

This year’s Horizon League Tournament is set for May 22-25, and Kaline would like to be a part of making some history for Oakland’s baseball program.

“It would be incredible,” he said. “It would be wonderful to be able to do something like that, and what would make it even more special is the group of guys we’d be able to do it with.”

Making it to the NCAA tournament is an aspiration that freshman and Warren De La Salle graduate Nino Puckett, who is the nephew of MLB Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett, also has for Oakland.

“It would be pretty crazy, I think, knowing that no team has done it,” Puckett said. “I think we can do it. This squad’s pretty deep with pitching, and we have the bats to do it too.”

Earlier this year, new Oakland men’s and women’s head track and field coach Katrina Brumfield said the university’s campus is “beautiful,” along with referring to it as a “hidden gem.”

Brumfield’s assessment is one that Kaline echoes.

“If you haven’t been on campus in a while and you step foot on campus, you’ll be amazed at a lot (of) the progress that’s being made,” Kaline said. “Obviously, with it being a great academic school, that’s easy to recruit too. … So, the potential really is endless, and as the campus continues moving forward, so will all (of the) athletic department.”

Kaline said that for the baseball program, it’s in a much better state than it has been in the past.

“The guys that have come through here previously did a great job of building the foundation, and the guys that we have here right now are looking to continue what the guys before them have been able to do,” he said.