On the Wing: Mazurek, Shoniker earn promotions

mazurek_filephoto

After spending the last 12 seasons as an assistant coach, Canisius alum Matt Mazurek has been named the program’s fourth head coach in the last 40 years. (Photo by Tom Wolf/Canisius College file photo)

By Marshall Haim

Sports Editor

Wednesday was the day for coaching staff announcements at Canisius. The baseball and basketball programs both announced changes to their coaching staffs. Matt Mazurek, longtime assistant coach under Mike McRae, was named the baseball program’s fourth head coach in the past 40 years. On top of the announcement of Mazurek, women’s basketball head coach Terry Zeh announced that Megan Shoniker was promoted from assistant coach to associate head coach.

Mazurek, who has been with the baseball program as a coach for the past 12 seasons, takes over for McRae who resigned from his position on Aug. 29 to pursue other opportunities in baseball. Mazurek was the longest tenured assistant coach in the conference prior to Wednesday’s announcement.

McRae leaves the program with the a program-best in wins (405), also holding the highest winning percentage (.547), per the Griffs’ record books dating back to 1980.

Matt Mazurek has spent the past 12 years preparing to be a head coach, and I am excited for our program that he will have that chance with us,” Canisius’ director of athletics Bill Maher said on the hiring of Mazurek. “I know Matt is ready for this challenge. He has played a key role in building Canisius baseball into a high-caliber program. I believe he is the right person to continue our championship success.”

The decision to keep Mazurek was most likely an easy one, since it took eight days for the change to be announced. He has recruited, if not all, most of the players that are currently on the team and/or who have already committed.

I am extremely honored with the opportunity to take over the Canisius baseball program,” Mazurek, a 2006 alumnus of Canisius, said in a press release. “I would like to thank Dr. Terri Mangione, Bill Maher and associate athletic director John Maddock for giving me the chance to continue to build on the success and rich history of Golden Griffin baseball.”

With Mazurek taking over, the trend of having a longtime assistant coach taking over a head coaching position at Canisius has been quite familiar.

This past May, Dave Smith announced he was leaving to become the head coach of RPI’s hockey program. Trevor Large was named the interim head coach before being tabbed the head coach a month later.

Keeping the existing coaching staff as intact as it was in years prior helps prevent turnover in the program. A perfect example is with Quinnipiac men’s basketball team, a fellow MAAC school. With former head coach Tom Moore leaving and Baker Dunleavy — a former Villanova assistant under well-known head coach Jay Wright — entering, five Bobcats transferred to other institutions, including two of their top freshman guards from last year.

That’s a prime example of what Canisius did not want to happen with either the hockey or baseball programs, each having been their stronger sports over the past handful of years.

Having players transfer out could have prevented the Griffs from making the MAAC Baseball Championship for the first time since 2007. Mazurek does have big shoes to fill, but will get the most out of his players.

Contrary to the baseball program, no new coaching staff members, yet, for the women’s basketball team except for a promotion for assistant coach Megan Shoniker. The program announced on Wednesday that Shoniker, who will be entering her fourth season with the Griffs this upcoming season, will become the team’s associate head coach in a press release.

Shoniker

Megan Shoniker, in her fourth season with the program, has been named associate head coach. (Photo by Tom Wolf/Canisius College file photo)

“Our program is very excited to name Megan our associate head coach,” Zeh said in a press release. “She has shown a tremendous ability to be a successful role model for the young women in our program. Megan is one of the hardest workers that I have ever been around in my 27 years at the college level. She is a lifelong learner with a passion to be great and her ability to connect with people on the recruiting trail and on our campus has made her an invaluable member of Canisius Women’s Basketball.”

Shoniker has improved the Griffs’ offense in her three years with the program so far, as they have shot at least 40 percent over the past two seasons.

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