As Georgia State baseball's recruiting coordinator for the past five seasons, Brad Stromdahl spent a great deal of time with Gwinnett County high school baseball coaches. Those relationships will help greatly with his new job.
Stromdahl began work this week as Georgia Gwinnett College's first head baseball coach already armed with considerable knowledge of prep baseball in the area. The first coaching hire for new Grizzlies athletic director Darin Wilson, the 34-year-old's familiarity with Gwinnett County was part of the attraction to the job.
"To have my family here and to have the opportunity to stay in Gwinnett County was great, it's one of the best counties in America," said Stromdahl, who lives near the Gwinnett-DeKalb border. "Some of the best baseball in the country is played here and the community is great here as well."
Stromdahl, who also was Georgia State's hitting coach, has a long to-do list in starting up GGC's baseball program. The Grizzlies don't have a stadium yet. He'll work closely with Wilson on ordering uniforms and equipment.
He also has no players at the moment, so recruiting is of the utmost importance. He drove to Cochran on Friday for a junior college showcase, one of the first steps in getting recruits signed for the inaugural 2013 season. Those students must be enrolled for the fall 2012 semester, leaving a time crunch for his first signing class.
"The thing I have to do, first and foremost, is the recruiting part," Stromdahl said. "I'm not too concerned about that. The recruiting part will happen. I want to focus on getting the word out in the community about what our mission is, from a college standpoint and from an athletics standpoint.
"I want to get out in the community, do camps. ... We've already found there's a tremendous amount of excitement in the Georgia Gwinnett College athletic program and in the school itself."
Stromdahl grew up in Napa, Calif., but moved at the end of his high school career to Minocqua, Wisc. He played junior college baseball at Bethany Lutheran (Minn.), played two more seasons at Southwest Minnesota State and gave professional baseball a shot for three more years.
From there, he worked as a graduate assistant at Southwest Minnesota and was an assistant at Marshall University in 2003. He coached for three seasons at Central Michigan, along with stints in the Northwoods and Coastal Plains summer leagues, before being hired at Georgia State.
Stromdahl's success with the Panthers' hitters included eight new single-season school records and 11 new career marks in his five seasons. His players sported a .319 batting average during that time, highlighted by the 2009 team that won its first Colonial Athletic Association title and reached the NCAA Regionals for the first time. His 2010 team ranked second nationally in batting average.
A handful of former Gwinnett standouts, recruited by Stromdahl, were part of that success. He wants to continue the pipeline with GGC by recruiting homegrown talent.
"We signed a number of kids at Georgia State from high schools in Gwinnett and I expect us to do the same thing here at Georgia Gwinnett," Stromdahl said. "There's such a great talent base here and I think that will help us win right away."
Baseball is part of the initial wave of varsity athletic teams at GGC that will begin play during the 2012-13 school year. The others are men's and women's soccer, men's and women's tennis and women's fastpitch softball.
The school is hopeful of adding men's and women's basketball and women's volleyball for the 2013-14 school year.