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 over 30 years later.
In reaching another career milestone, Jancuska moved past the 600-career win plateau in 2005 and now stands at 633 career victories. Now entering his 31st 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 four years ago, the Retriever skipper has been building his program to compete in the much stronger league. For the past three years, Jancuska has had at least one player named to the America East All-Conference teams including 2007’s First-Team All-Conference designated hitter and All-Academic team selection, Will Delawter. In 2006, Eddie Bach was named to the All-Rookie Team while Joe Fowler picked up first-team honors and Fowler was also picked for the All-Rookie Team and All-Conference Second-Team in 2005.
Entering the 2008 season, Jancuska has added 10 newcomers, including landing an NJCAA Division-II Gold Glove award-winner in Shawn Retz. With the addition of these newcomers and the veteran experience of his returning players, Jancuska’s team will look to achieve success in their newest venue of the America East Conference like they’ve done in previous years and conferences.
Over the course of Jancuska’s tenure, he has produced 19 winning seasons, 18 seasons with 20 plus 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 four 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 in nine years.
Two of Jancuska’s former players are still active in Major League Baseball, with Jay Witasick entering the 2008 season as a relief pitcher for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Wayne Franklin who is 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.