The decision in August 1977 to hand the reigns as skipper of the UMBC baseball program to John Jancuska, just three years out of the University of Delaware, continues to pay dividends 30 years later.
In reaching another career milestone, Jancuska moved past the 600-career win plateau in 2005 and now stands at 620 career victories. Now entering his 30th year, Jancuska is in the process of building the Retrievers’ program into one of the elite programs in the America East Conference with intentions of winning the league title and reaching his third NCAA Division-I tournament.
Since the move into the America East Conference three years ago, the Retriever skipper has been building his program to compete in the much stronger league. In 2005, Jancuska’s recruiting class produced four America East Conference rookie of the week awards from three different players. In addition, freshman Joe Fowler earned All-Rookie Team and Second-Team All-Conference accolades. Last season, Eddie Bach and Tom Schlein picked up Pitcher of the Week honors while Bach was named to the All-Rookie Team and Fowler earned First-Team All-Conference accolades.
Entering the 2007 season, Jancuska has added 11 newcomers, including landing one of the top area sluggers in junior transfer Will Delawter. With the addition of these newcomers to go along with solid veterans and one year under the belt of his freshman class from a year ago, Jancuska’s team is poised to return to the top of the conference, something the coach has been much accustomed to in years past.
Over the course of Jancuska’s tenure, he has produced 19 winning seasons, 18 seasons with 20 ore more victories and five NCAA Tournament appearances (two NCAA Division-I, three NCAA Division-II) in addition to 38 all-regional players, five All-Americans, four Academic All-Americans and 17 professional baseball players.
Since the move to the Division-I ranks in 1987, Jancuska has been named coach of the year in every conference in which he has led his team, except for the current America East Conference into which the Retrievers are only three years deep.
Jancuska was named the 1992 East Coast Conference Coach of the Year, the 1993 Big South Conference Coach of the Year and the 2000 Northeast Conference Coach of the Year. The state of Maryland also named Jancuska its Coach of the Year in 1993 and inducted him into the Maryland State Association of Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2000.
Jancuska has made the NCAA Division-I Tournament twice. In 1992 he guided UMBC to a 37-13 mark and its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division-I Tournament. In 2000, he led the Retrievers to their first regular-season league title in the Northeast Conference, and a year later UMBC made its second trip to the NCAA Tournament by winning the NEC Championship.
Before entering the Division-I ranks in 1987, Jancuska turned UMBC into a Division-II power, leading the Retrievers to NCAA regional appearances in 1978, 1979 and 1986. In nine years, Jancuska racked up 172 career victories, a .654 winning percentage and five 20-plus win seasons.
Two of Jancuska’s former players are still active in Major League Baseball, with Jay Witasick entering the 2007 season as a relief pitcher for the Oakland Athletics and Wayne Franklin a part of the Kansas City Royals organization. In 2003, Jancuska's top prospect, Joe Wilson, was taken in the 13th round by the Philadelphia Phillies and was traded to the Cincinnati Reds organization, where he currently remains, and in 2006, Zach Clark was signed by the Baltimore Orioles organization.
Jancuska was a two-year starter and co-captain of his senior squad as a player at the University of Delaware. Jancuska and his wife Lee Ann live in Sykesville with two of their daughters, Beth and Claire. Their third daughter, Devon, was married in the summer of 2001 and lives in Westminster with her husband Brad, daughter Caylee Joy and son Braden John.