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Hollod to return to Stingers for third season

(Willmar Stingers photo) Willmar manager Matt Hollod, center, talks with Stingers players Anthony Hincy, left, and Rob Elliott during a game last season.

WILLMAR -- The Willmar Stingers have an important piece in place for next season, announcing Monday that they have brought back Matt Hollod to manage the team in 2012.

Hollod has managed the team since its inaugural 2010 season and has accumulated a 78-62 win-loss record with identical 39-31 finishes in 2010 and 2011. The Stingers finished in second place overall in 2010 and third place overall in 2011.

"He wanted to come back and we wanted him back so it was a fairly easy process," Stingers co-owner Marc Jerzak said. "He enjoys the Stingers, he enjoys Willmar and we wanted him back for everything he's done the past couple years. It's a big key for us to get a field manager in early September and we can start putting together the roster for the 2012 season."

Hollod said he's looking forward to coming back to the Stingers for a third year.

"I think we've had two pretty good seasons and I'm excited to recruit for (next season) and see what we can bring back to Willmar," Hollod said. "My next move will be to look at my assistant coaches and see if I can't bring back those guys and then continue to work on a roster."

The roster construction has already started for 2012.

Hollod said he has narrowed down a list of seven or eight players from 2011 who could potentially return.

Any player who was a college sophomore or freshman in 2010-11 is eligible to return to the Stingers for 2012. Players who fall into that category include Sean Dwyer, Jason Leblebijian, Pat Stover, Blake Shepherd, Jack Shannon and Mitch Delfino.

Having a returning manager not only helps on the field, but in recruiting as well.

"Coaches are starting to trust me because they know the kids have a good experience (in Willmar)," Hollod said. "Maybe they're offering up better players than they would have. It makes it easier the longer you're in the league."

Hollod's background includes stints as an assistant coach at the University of Portland (2003-08), Willamette University (2009) and Southern Utah (2010). He is currently an assistant coach at DeSales University in Center Valley, Pa.

He played college ball for the University of Washington (1999-00), where he was an outfielder, and the University of Portland (2000-02), where he played outfield and pitcher.

Jerzak said Hollod brings a lot to the Stingers organization not only on the field but also with recruiting players, managing the team on the road and dealing with roster turnover every year.

"We've played OK in the first half and in the second half we've played considerably better (both years). He gets these guys playing on the same page," Jerzak said. "He deserves a lot of credit for the success of the team the last two years. We're excited to have him back and hopefully lead this team to a Northwoods League championship."

Ben Brewster

Ben Brewster covers the Willmar Stingers and other area sports, as well as laying out the daily sports section cover for the West Central Tribune. Follow him on Twitter @benbrewster.

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