The first-ever head coach of the Georgia Gwinnett College baseball program, Brad Stromdahl has wasted little time building the Grizzlies into a national contender.
Stromdahl has amassed a 133-52 (.719) record over the team’s first three seasons in his first stint as a collegiate head coach. The Grizzlies have posted back-to-back 50-plus-win seasons in each of their first two full seasons of national eligibility.
In Stromdahl’s time, the Grizzlies have already reached an Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series, claimed a No. 1 ranking in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) coaches’ poll, captured an Association of Independent Institutions (A.I.I.) championship and boasted an NAIA Player of the Year. Additionally, four Grizzlies have already been drafted by Major League Baseball organizations.
Stromdahl earned A.I.I. Coach of the Year honors following both the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
In 2015, Stromdahl led Georgia Gwinnett to the top of the NAIA in a number of statistical categories en route to a 50-14 record. The Grizzlies finished first in the nation in stolen bases (209) and most strikeouts on the mound (545). GGC was second in the nation with 549 runs scored, 735 total hits and 495 runs batted in. The team also finished in the top 10 in total triples (34), runs scored per game (8.58) and team batting average (.339). Led by the NAIA Player of the Year Ty Abbott, the 2015 GGC team reached the program’s first-ever No. 1 ranking. The Grizzlies ultimately finished just one win shy of a second consecutive trip to the NAIA World Series, making it to the final game of the Lawrenceville Bracket as the Grizzly Baseball Complex played host to the NAIA Baseball National Championships Opening Round for the second straight year. Abbott, a senior infielder from Milton, Ga., led the nation in total hits (106) and runs batted in (93) on his way to earning A.I.I. Player of the Year honors as one of five Grizzlies on the all-conference first team. Stromdahl was named A.I.I. Coach of the Year in 2015 for the second straight year. Following the successful season, senior right-handed reliever Christian Turnipseed was selected in the 28th round of the MLB Draft by the Baltimore Orioles, becoming the second Grizzly reliever in as many years to be drafted by the Orioles.
In 2014, the very first year of postseason eligibility for GGC, Stromdahl’s squad racked up 53 victories en route to the program’s first-ever berth to the Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series. The Grizzlies, who started off the postseason run by winning the A.I.I. tournament championship for the first time, ended the year with a No. 7 national ranking, and Stromdahl was named Coach of the Year by the A.I.I, ABCA NAIA East Region and Georgia Dugout Club. Eight players on the team were named to an all-conference team, with Tyler Carpenter becoming the first baseball player in school history to earn national honors after being named All-America Honorable Mention.
Carpenter was also one of three Grizzlies to be selected in the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft, getting picked in the 25th round by the Anaheim Angels. He was joined by 23rd-round picks John Fidanza and Zeke McGranahan, who were chosen by the Arizona Diamondbacks and Baltimore Orioles, respectively. Another player, Phillip Bates signed a contract with the Joliet Slammers of the Frontier League.
Stromdahl’s 2014 GGC squad led the nation in a host of team categories, finishing first in triples (35) and second in 11 categories, including runs scored (589), runs batted in (516), total hits (723) and stolen bases (201). The Green and Gray also put together a 20-game winning streak during and became the first NAIA team to reach 40 victories in posting a 44-9 regular season record. The season also featured a 2-0 record against eventual Avista-NAIA World Series champion Cumberland (Tenn.), and saw GGC peak at No. 4 in the national poll.
In 2013, the first season in school history and one in which GGC was ineligible to reach the postseason or appear in national rankings, Stromdahl led the Grizzlies to a 30-win campaign. The year was highlighted by a GGC offense that outscored its opponents by nearly 100 runs and posted a .314 batting average. Georgia Gwinnett picked up two wins over ranked opponents on the year, including a 6-1 decision over eventual NAIA national champion Tennessee Wesleyan. The Grizzlies were tasked with playing their first 15 games on the road as their new on-campus stadium was completed. A 6-2 victory over Rochester (Mich.) on March 9, 2013, served as the opening game for the state-of-the-art Grizzly Baseball Complex and the first-ever intercollegiate baseball game played on campus at Georgia Gwinnett College.
Since that day, the Grizzly Baseball Complex has served as the beautiful home for Stromdahl’s program, complete with one of the finest playing surfaces in the country, multiple amenities and a location just steps away from the weight room, locker room and athletic training facilities of the Grizzly Athletics main building.
Prior to GGC, Stromdahl served as assistant coach for the baseball program at NCAA Division I Georgia State University, helping the squad achieve extraordinary success. For five seasons while Stromdahl served as recruiting coordinator and offensive coach, the Panther offense batted at a .319 clip as Panther players set eight new offensive single season records and 11 new career offensive records. He was instrumental in amassing top Division I recruiting classes, finishing inside the nation’s top 50 the past three seasons.
In 2011, the Panther offense ranked among the best in the nation at reaching base safely, finishing second in the Colonial Athletic Association with a .401 on-base percentage. The team secured a league-high 294 walks to place ninth in the NCAA, while four offensive players went on to be named All-Conference selections at season's end.
In 2010, Stromdahl oversaw the greatest offensive season in the history of the program as the Panthers led the nation in batting average for much of the season. The Panthers led the NCAA in runs scored per game and sacrifice flies, and they finished third in team batting average at .351. With Stromdahl's guidance, the offense broke nearly every team single-season record on the books at Georgia State. After graduating 12 seniors from the year prior, Stromdahl helped lead the 2010 squad to 34 wins, the second most in school history, while watching a record six players earn All-CAA honors. The team broke GSU's records for batting average, slugging percentage, runs scored, hits, doubles, home runs, total bases, RBIs, base on balls, conference wins, conference winning percentage and home winning percentage.
The 2009 season saw Stromdahl help lead the Panthers to their most successful year to that point in school history. The team won a school-record 39 games, earned its first-ever CAA Championship and advanced to the NCAA Regionals. Additionally, the Panthers set school records, for the second straight year, for runs, hits and RBIs.
Moreover, Stromdahl's support of academic excellence led to another victory as the players maintained a cumulative GPA of 3.01.
Prior to GSU, Stromdahl spent three seasons at Central Michigan University. With the Chippewas, Stromdahl's primary responsibilities were hitting instruction, working with infielders and assisting with recruiting. During Stromdahl's time at CMU, the offense led the Mid-American Conference in over half of the offensive categories each season. CMU made three MAC Tournament appearances and won the MAC regular-season title in 2004. In 2005, the Chippewas finished with a 42-18 overall record and fell in the championship game of the conference tournament.
Stromdahl's additional experience includes time at Southwest Minnesota State (1999-2002), coaching with legendary coach Paul Blanchard, and Marshall University (2003), as well as coaching for the Coastal Plain League (2004) and Northwoods League (2006).
Stromdahl played collegiately for two seasons at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, Minn., for legendary coach Art Westphal. He then spent two seasons playing for the Division II SMSU Mustangs before pursuing a career in professional baseball for two years. He received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from SMSU in 2002 and a master's degree in sports administration from CMU in 2006.
Stromdahl, who grew up in Napa, Calif., finished high school in Minocqua, Wis. He married the former Tessa Rieger in December 2006. The couple has two sons, Leo William, who was born in August 2011, and Hugo Walter, who was born in September 2014, and resides in the Atlanta area.