From player to coach, Marbut brings passion to the game


Donnie Marbut is entering his 10th season with the Cougars.

With a competitive fire and a heart for teaching, Head Coach Donnie Marbut runs the baseball team at Washington State University. 

Marbut did not always know he wanted to coach, but he had an interest in teaching and people around him knew he would end up at the helm of a team one day, he said. 

 “My friends and my former coaches laughed at that, and thought, ‘You’re thinking you’re not going to coach, but we knew the whole time that’s what you were going to do.’ So it just turned into a career,” Marbut said. 

Marbut majored in sociology and minored in elementary education. He thought he would teach young children and had an elementary school teacher who influenced him greatly growing up in Aberdeen.

“I would sure like somebody to look at me the way I looked at him, so I thought I was going that route,” he said.

After student-teaching the second and third grades, Marbut said it was the worst experience of his life because he couldn’t deal with sitting behind a desk all day. 

Contrary to a desk job, Marbut was a three-sport athlete growing up. He played baseball, football and basketball in high school, and he considered going to a smaller college to play all three sports at a higher level. However, baseball took top priority as Marbut said he dreamed of playing second base for the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

Marbut played second base throughout his college career at both Edmonds Community College and Portland State University. He then moved on to coaching at Capital High School, Bellevue College, and Edmonds Community College. 

Although Marbut does not watch much of professional sports, he said his favorite professional player is Derek Jeter. 

“Even though he’s in the public eye, he’s never in trouble. He’s a consummate teammate, and puts the team before himself,” Marbut said. “As a coach, you’re always looking for those positive role models for your players.”

When Marbut selects players for his team, he looks for the ones who have talent but who also possess two key qualities. The first is unselfishness, and the second is competitiveness. 

“We need guys who are going to be the best teammates around,” Marbut said. “I think you need that everywhere, but I think you really need that in Pullman. I think you build that culture and that team in Pullman.” 

Marbut’s passion for the game emanates from him when he talks about ideal players. 

“I want to coach guys that are really competitive,” Marbut said. “Everybody wants to win, but I want to coach guys who hate to lose.” 

While the coach demands a competitive edge out of every one of his players, he does not expect every single one to be like him. He simply wants the team to be productive.

 “We’re trying to win every pitch,” Marbut said. “We’re trying to win every inning, trying to win every out, we’re trying to win every game.”

Beyond the game of baseball, Marbut said he loves spending time with his daughters, Avery and Olivia, and watching them grow and try new things. He said they are both skiing now and have shown interest in volleyball. 

“My hobbies are them, and whatever they want to do, I want to do,” Marbut said. 

Entering his 10th season as the head coach of WSU baseball, Marbut’s competitive fire and his passion for his job have yet to get in the way of his humble understanding that everything happens for a reason. 

“There’s a reason why I’m here, and there’s a reason I’m not playing for the Dodgers. I wasn’t good enough to play for the Dodgers so hopefully I’m good enough to stay and coach here for a while,” Marbut said. “I would’ve enjoyed a big league career like anybody would have, but I really enjoy my college coaching career.”