After 31 years of coaching multiple sports, Greg Christian has retired from his latest post as varsity baseball coach at St. John’s Jesuit.
Christian, 58, known best as “Hawk” to friends and local coaching brethren, compiled a 99-31 record in five seasons guiding the Titans, a run that included Three Rivers Athletic Conference championships in 2014 and ’15. His 2013 team reached a Division I district final. He also spent one year (2012) as a Titans assistant, and St. John’s won the TRAC title that year as well.
“There’s a bunch of reasons really, and my gut just told me it was time,” Christian said. “I’ve been coaching for over 30 years in some capacity between boys and girls basketball at Stritch, and baseball over there.
“I was getting tired and burned out a little bit. My health hasn’t been the best in the last couple years, and it seemed like I was getting really run down. I was just tired during baseball season.”
Christian had a severe health scare in 2014, when a sudden illness led to the diagnosis of a damaged heart valve that required immediate surgery to repair. He was cleared in time to return to work and to coach, but only in a limited coaching capacity. He returned to his usual routine in 2015.
“We greatly appreciate everything he did,” St. John’s athletic director Bob Ronai said. “He worked very hard to make our baseball program very relevant in northwest Ohio, and I understand and respect Greg’s decision to step down at this time. He’s a great individual, he’s been great for us at St. John’s, and we appreciate everything he did.
“There are other things that he has to look at in his life. He’s going to stay connected with us, and do continue to do some scouting for the basketball program, so he’ll still be around.”
Christian’s primary occupation is as a formation handler at Johnson Controls, Inc. in the Battery Division plant in Holland, where he has worked for 36 years.
“I still get up at 5 a.m. every morning [for work], and sometimes I don’t get home until 10 o’clock at night,” Christian said. “It was wearing on me. I’m feeling good right now [in the offseason], and I just want to keep it like that. I’ve got two grandkids now and we’re expecting a third in four or five weeks. I’m going to spend some time with them.
“My wife Jill has sacrificed for me all these years with coaching, and it’s time for us to spend some more time together.”
Before his tenure at St. John’s, which also included time as a basketball assistant, Christian spent the bulk of his coaching career at his alma mater, Cardinal Stritch, (Class of 1977), where he was a boys basketball assistant, a girls basketball head coach, and for 11 years as the Cardinals’ head baseball coach (with more than 150 wins).
St. John's Jesuit baseball coach Greg Christian has decided to retire from coaching after 31 years. He won 99 games and two TRAC championships in five seasons with the Titans. THE BLADE PHOTO