The Keene State baseball team is adding a familiar face to their coaching staff. Dustin Howe graduated from Keene State College in May 2016 and has recently accepted a position as an assistant outfield coach.

Dustin has been around baseball for practically his entire life. His father, Coach Ken Howe, is the head coach for the baseball team. “He knows baseball. He knows a lot about baseball and he’s heard me teach and coach baseball for 20 years. So he knows not just the positions, but he knows pretty much everything around the game,” Howe said.

Dustin hasn’t had much time in the outfield, but he’s watched his father do it for 24 years. “He will be helping out with the outfielders, a lot of the stuff that I have done before. He’s been an infielder his whole life, but he’s heard me and knows me and knows the game and everything else,” Howe said.

The hiring process turns out to be very different for an assistant coach compared to a head coach. Athletic Director Dr. Kristene Kelly explains the process: “Here at Keene, our assistant coaches are hired directly through the head coach so, I’m not involved in that process other than signing off on the paperwork. We don’t really involve ourselves in who head coaches want to hire,” Kelly said.

She continued, “Assistant coaches are all part time, so all of our head coaches are full time, and that has to go through the entire USNH process. Identifying a job description, identifying a search committee, phone interviews, just the whole gamete. It’s a much, much longer process than an assistant coach.”

Photo contributed by Dustin Howe

Photo contributed by Dustin Howe

As Dustin is Coach Ken Howe’s son, he has to do things a little differently compared to the other assistant coaches. “They’re still a regular employee, they have to go through the regular process, but he cannot report to their direct family member, because that would be nepotism,” Kelly said.

Adjusting from teammate to coach shouldn’t be too challenging. Coach Ken Howe says, “I have had plenty of other players as assistant coaches after they graduate, and stuff like that in the previous years,” Howe said.

He continued, “How the other players are going to respond, I don’t know. I think it’s been tough for him [Dustin] for four years being dad’s son and being on the team, being a teammate and keeping that apart from being the son of the coach, and he’s done a good job with that. Obviously he’s not a kid that gets in trouble or does things like that so I think it’ll be an easy transition for him, but I’m not sure how it’ll be with the players.”

Some players and alumnus have mixed feelings about the hiring of Dustin Howe. Keith Simpson, graduate and fellow classman to Dustin doesn’t think it was the best move for the program. “Keene State baseball has been a very good program but I think Coach Howe bringing his son Dustin in, I think all the juniors and seniors will lose respect for him,” Simpson said.

He continued, “I hope he proves me wrong, I really do because I want the best for this program, but me saying I want the best for this program, it doesn’t do anything. Me wanting the best for this program is wanting a good coach that will discipline the kids when they’re doing wrong.”

Coaches play a very important roll in a team atmosphere. “Your sport is your sport and I know a coach can either make it or break it,” Kelly said.

Senior pitcher, Michael Crimi has played baseball his entire college career. “I think it’s going to be different. We graduated a lot of seniors and lost a lot of players so it’s going to be a lot different. It’s almost as if we’re starting over, but we do have a bunch of new kids coming in,” Crimi said.

The players have their goals set high for this upcoming year. “Our first goal is to make the LEC tournament,” Crimi said.

Coach Howe is switching things up this year in hopes to maintain consistency. “I’m changing roles, we haven’t had good consistency with hitting, and that’s some of the things the guys are looking for. With me being the only full-time person here, I can make it a little more consistent during our season. I can have five guys at a time in around classes and work on certain things and stuff like that. So, it’ll just be transition of Dustin taking over the outfield, which isn’t a lot of things to do, mostly help with positioning during games and things like that,” Howe said.

With the coaching staff up to four, the owls plan on having a great season.

Dustin Howe was contacted, but unavailable for a comment.

Crae Messer can be contacted at cmesser@kscequinox.com.