June 28, 2011
HOUSTON - Former McNeese State assistant Clay Van Hook has joined the Rice baseball coaching staff, and the Owls' own Patrick Hallmark has been promoted within the current staff, Rice head coach Wayne Graham announced on Tuesday (June 28).
Coach Graham has finalized the changes to his staff. Van Hook is the lone new member after serving the past two seasons as an assistant coach at McNeese State. Coach Graham stated he was pleased with the changes that combine moving forward and evolving, while simultaneously paying respect to the past.
"Patrick has (six years) experience in our system after nine years of professional baseball, so that was as obvious as it was ideal," Graham said. "Clay has been coaching a few years and he's from a baseball family who has been a student of the game his whole life. His work-ethic is off the scale. He's been able to get the most out of his own ability and he will be able to do the same with the players around him.
"His father (Kyle Van Hook) was an assistant coach for me at San Jacinto for two years, and we won the national championship in both years (1989 & '90). The Van Hook family and I are 2-0 in winning national championships," Graham quipped.
While at McNeese State Van Hook worked with infielders, helped with the team's hitting, and served as the Cowboys' third base coach. He had a role in recruiting and helped MSU post its first winning record in four years in his very first season with the program in 2010. The Brenham, Tex., native played one season at Navarro College before becoming a three-year letterman at the University of Texas. Van Hook earned second team all-Big 12 and was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the major league draft. He earned his degree at Texas in 2008 while serving one season as a student-coach. In addition to his on-field duties at Rice, Van Hook will take over the administering of the Owls' popular Youth Baseball Camps (a role formerly held by Patrick Hallmark).
Halmark recently completed his sixth season as member of the Owls' coaching staff. He will continue to work with the Rice hitters and defensively with the catchers and outfielders. Coach Graham has added recruiting responsibilities as part of Hallmark's promotion.
Under the direction of coach Graham Rice baseball had another standout season in 2011. The Owls (42-21) won the C-USA Tournament title and regular season co-championship, the 16th-straight year for Rice baseball to claim a league championship. The program also posted its 17th-consecutive season with at least 40 wins advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the 17th-straight year.