Nathan Blackwood – Head Coach – Baseball Coaches
Throughout its history, the Lubbock Christian University baseball program has maintained its status as one of the top national powerhouses in the NAIA and has become one of the top programs in the NCAA Div. Level II. Much of that success over the past decade and a half is due to the leadership of head coach Nathan Blackwood and his desire to maintain the traditions and alumni relationships of LCU baseball.
Entering his 19th season at the helm, Blackwood is now the longest-serving coach the LCU baseball program has ever had, surpassing College Baseball Hall of Famer Larry Hays, who was coach at Lubbock Christian for 16 seasons. The Chaps amassed a 688-310 (.689) overall rating under Blackwood. He only needs seven more wins to surpass Hays and become the the most winner coach in LCU baseball history.
Blackwood’s consistent leadership has been crucial over the past two seasons as the Chaps began a new era entering the Lone Star Conference from the 2020 season and navigating their way through all the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic.
LCU’s first foray into LSC play didn’t go to plan, with a 7-17 record when the virus outbreak ended the season prematurely, but they have improved dramatically heading into the 2021 season. Picked eighth in the 2021 LSC pre-season poll, the Chaparrals finished the regular season in sixth, but they’re not done there. A miraculous comeback led LCU to upset Texas A&M-Kingsville in the first round of the LSC tournament, and the Chaps played their way into the championship game before the end of the 2021 season. Wide receiver Luis Navarro and center fielder Larry Leitha were all-region selections, and Navarro was additionally honored as an ABCA All-America pick.
Prior to the move to the Lone Star Conference, Lubbock Christian got his first taste of NCAA Division II play in the Heartland Conference. LCU left the NAIA and played their first NCAA D-II baseball season in 2014, finishing atop the league standings, although they weren’t officially allowed to claim the conference title as members. provisional. The Chaps won two more Heartland Conference championships in their next five seasons in the league, posting a 206-107 (.660) overall record and a 108-46 (.701) league record.
In 2016, the Chaparrals dropped their provisional NCAA member status and became eligible for the playoffs. They qualified for the NCAA South Central Regional that first season and did so in 2017 and 2019 as well.
The 2019 season was one of the LCU’s best as part of the NCAA. It featured a 35-17 overall record, including a 16-5 performance in Heartland Conference play, which was good enough to earn the Chaps their third league title. Lubbock Christian also reached the NCAA South Central Regional Tournament for the third time in just their fourth year of eligibility. The season ended with four Chap players taken in the 2019 Major League Baseball Draft, matching a program record.
The 2018 season saw a career milestone for Blackwood, as he claimed his 600th win as a collegiate head coach – all with Lubbock Christian. The Chaps came close to repeating as the Heartland Conference, finishing just one first-place game with a 17-11 record. LCU still ended up playing for the championship on Saturday in the Heartland conference tournament, but were unable to beat St. Edward’s.
Blackwood’s second Heartland Conference regular season title came in 2017, as the Chaps went 19-5 at Heartland, reaching the South Central Regional again and finishing the year with an overall record of 38-16. LCU The 2017 team was recognized with 13 all-region accolades and the program’s first Division II Rawlings Gold Glove award, given to catcher Chase Simmons.
During their NAIA run, Lubbock Christian University made four trips to the NAIA World Series under Blackwood’s leadership. In their final NAIA season (2013), LCU qualified for the NAIA Playoffs and played in their fifth consecutive NAIA National Championships Opening Series after winning their first SAC Tournament Championship since 2009. Included in the mix for the 2013 season was a 6-5 win over Texas Tech University on April 14.
The 2012 season was tough for the Chaps, as they went 31-26 overall and 18-12 in conference, but they had a great run late in the season. They upset (tournament host) Oklahoma City University to finish second in the Sooner Athletic Conference Tournament, earning them a berth in their fourth NAIA Open Tournament.
2011 was a memorable year for the Chaps. After winning the SAC regular season title for three years, the Chaps had to fight to continue a three-year streak of qualifying for the NAIA World Series. After a third-place finish in the SAC regular season, the Chaps advanced to the NAIA season opener. LCU hosted the opener for a third straight season, and for the third straight year the Chaps won the tournament and qualified for the World Series. The Chaps almost had a fairy tale at the end of the season, but would eventually fall to Concordia (California) in the championship game and they finished second in the NAIA World Series. They finished 50-14 overall (21-9 in SAC).
In 2010, LCU made a trip to the World Series after posting a 24-5 record in SAC play to win its third straight regular season conference title. The Chaps went 46-16 in the regular season and led the NAIA with a .371 batting average. Blackwood won the Sooner Athletic Conference Coach of the Year and ABCA Regional Coach of the Year Honours. The conference honor for Blackwood was his fourth in a seven-year span.
The Chaps had a standout season in 2009, winning the second national championship in school history (the first since 1983) while going 52-8 overall. They won their third Sooner Athletic Conference title under Blackwood and were ranked No. 1 in the latest national poll for the second year in a row. He was named 2009 National Coach of the Year and SAC Coach of the Year.
The Chaps had a standout season in 2008 with a 53-4 final record, the lowest single-season loss total in Lubbock Christian history. They won their second Sooner Athletic Conference title under Blackwood’s tenure and were ranked No. 1 in the latest regular season NAIA Top 25 poll. It was the first time the Chaps had been awarded the No.1 ranking since 1985.
In only his third year at the helm of the Lubbock Christian University baseball team, Blackwood enjoyed a level of success few coaches have ever had the opportunity to experience. In 2006, LCU completed (at the time) the third most successful season in school history as the Chaps won the NAIA Region VI title for the first time and then won the NAIA Mid-South Super-Regional and qualified for the NAIA World. Series, where they finished third. During the year, LCU finished 50-17 to post 50 consecutive seasons and finished the regular season ranked 6th in the nation.
In 2005, the Chaps completed a 17-game turnaround as they posted a 53-15 record, captured their fourth Sooner Athletic Conference title and advanced to the NAIA Region VI Championship Game. The sharp turnaround demonstrated Coach Blackwood’s ability to adapt quickly and was impressive enough to earn him both Sooner Athletic Conference and Region VI Coach of the Year honors. NAIA.
A native of Lubbock, Texas, Blackwood attended Lubbock Christian Schools where he played football, basketball and baseball for the Eagles in the late 1980s. across the street to Lubbock Christian University where he played baseball in 1991 and 1992, and earned a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies after graduating in 1995.
After completing his undergraduate studies, Blackwood held several different coaching positions in West Texas, including stints in Rallies and Haskel. In 1998, he got a job as an assistant baseball coach at Harding University. While at Harding, Blackwood was instrumental in turning around the Bison program and he also found time to attend classes. In 2000, Blackwood earned his Masters of Education in Exercise Science, which allowed him to return to LCU later that year as Acting Chair of the Department of Kinesiology until taking over the head coach of the Chaps in the summer of 2003.
Despite all of her talents and accomplishments, Blackwood’s crowning achievement is her marriage to former LCU alumnus Kim Lindsey in 1995 and her two children, Brennan and Lindsey.
BLACKWOOD’S ALL-TIME RESULTS
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