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The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

‘To whom much is given, much is required,’ baseball coach Nathan Choate outlines program philosophy

Choate introduces coaching staff, praises program history in introductory press conference
WSU baseball head coach Nathan Choate poses for a picture with Assoicate Athletic Director Mitch Straub and WSU President Kirk Schulz, June 29, 2023 in Pullman, WA-Courtesy WSU Athletics

Nathan Choate addressed a room full of players, alumni, faculty, staff and family for the first time as WSU baseball head coach. His first comment was a proud declaration that he had nailed the fight song.

“I don’t know if you watched us walk in, but that fight song, that I nailed by the way because of my wife and kids, we were up all night practicing, so thank you to Laurie and the kids,” Choate said.

With the ice broken, Choate settled into outlining his confident and clear vision for the Cougs.

Choate said WSU baseball has the resources to succeed between the Baseball Training Complex and a talented coaching staff.

“I took the job because I know you can win here if you get the right people. People who want to be a part of the community, people that want to be here and win in our program,” Choate said.

He also praised the history of college baseball’s 13th-winningest program built on the back of two legendary head coaches: Buck Baily and Bobo Brayton and the legacy of John Olerud, whom the John Olerud award (reserved for the best player who both hits and pitches) is named after.

Choate said the first question his wife asked him when he asked her thoughts on living in Pullman was “Can you win there?” “Yeah, I can win there,” he said.

Choate seemed comfortable on stage but made his awareness of his job clear.

“I had some people mention to me and say ‘Hey, are you nervous about a press conference?’ and I said well, ‘The bottom line is, if I bomb the press conference and we win a lot of games, no one will care, right?’ I could crush the press conference, we lose a lot of games, no one likes me, so that’s the goal is to win a lot of baseball games and let’s not lose sight of that,” Choate said.

Choate told the players in his introductory Zoom meeting that the team belonged to the players and did not belong to him.

“What I would like, and what it’s gonna take some time: I want it to be our team and it’s gonna take me earning their respect,” Choate said. “Give us time to earn your respect on how we play baseball here. Give our coaching staff time to earn your respect and trust.”

Choate unveiled his three program pillars of team, tough and grateful. He emphasized the importance of being thankful for the facilities, history and opportunities of WSU baseball.

“To whom much is given, much is required,” he said.

Coaching Staff

Cougar baseball coaches Jake Valentine (Left), Joe Perez (center) and Eric Hutting (right) talk at head coach Nathan Choate’s press conference, June 27 2023, in the Alger Family Club Room in Martin Stadium- courtesy WSU Athletics

Choate’s coaching staff features a familiar face.

Jake Valentine, who joined former WSU coach Brian Green’s staff last year as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, wanted to stay in Pullman and his new boss, Choate, wanted him to stay too.

“I was in the WCC for several years and there was one coach, before this all happened, that I thought was doing an unbelievable job amongst all others as an assistant coach. Jake Valentine was crushing it at University of Portland. He was bringing in players left and right,” Choate said. “He’s a relationship guy who can recruit the northwest and I am thrilled that he decided to stay on staff. That was the number one hire I made.”

Assistant coaches Joe Perez and Eric Hutting join Choate in Pullman.

Perez and Choate worked together at Grand Canyon University. He stayed in Arizona to lead the Central Arizona College program and won two National Championships.

Hutting played catcher in college and assisted Choate over the last two seasons at Loyola Marymount University. Huddding will serve as Choate’s “swiss army knife” helping base running as third-base coach, mentoring the catchers and the hitters alongside Valentine.


As an assistant in 2019 at LMU, Choate joined a program that had not qualified for the postseason in two decades.

Once he took the helm in 2020, he led LMU to the WCC Championship in 2023.

“We didn’t have the most talented team or the most talented players, but we had the best team,” Choate said in his Q&A with the voice of Cougar Athletics Matt Chazanow.

Choate will serve as his own pitching coach, a role he has excelled at in his previous jobs. He was part of University of California Irvine’s deep College World Series run in 2007. Between UC Irvine, UC Riverside, Grand Canyon University, University of San Diego and LMU he has seen 25 players (both pitchers and position players) drafted by MLB teams and had three pitchers on Team USA.

Choate expanded on his pitching philosophy during his Q&A.

“Nobody likes to hit fastballs in, especially when it’s 38 degrees, so we’re going to tag the inner half with the fastball and we’re going to be aggressive, we’re going to have some conviction behind it,” Choate said. “If you want to play good defense, guess what you need to be able to do? You need to be able to pitch and throw a lot of strikes. If you want to score more runs, guess what you need to be able to do? Pitch!”

At the end of the press conference, Choate told the four WSU players in attendance to join him on stage to sing the fight song.

Following one of their new head coach’s first instructions Jack Lee and the other players in attendance joined Choate in singing the fight song in an impressive introduction to WSU.

“For WSU to only have a handful of guys enter their names in the transfer portal after a head coach leaves, showcases a real sense of the loyalty and pride players have in Washington State Baseball. The players want to be here, and they want to win here, we just needed someone who could show us how to do it,” Lee said in his WSU Athletics article.

Lee is a communications intern with WSU Athletics over the summer. He concluded his article entitled “Insider perspective on new WSU Baseball Head Coach; Nathan Choate” with a quote from his new coach.

“How do you get tougher? You do hard things,” Choate said. “We are going to push you to levels you don’t even know you can go.” 

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About the Contributor
SAM TAYLOR, Evergreen sports co-editor
Sam is a senior multimedia journalism major from Lacey, Washington and the sports editor for spring 2024. He was the sports editor for the 2022-23 school year and managing editor for the summer and fall 2023. He plays the trumpet in the Cougar Marching Band, loves sports and has worked at the Evergreen since fall 2021.