"O" WOW! Ostrowski gets coaching win #800
March 9, 2008
Dave Beyer, Sports Information Director
In the 2008 season opener for Benedictine University’s baseball team, veteran head coach John Ostrowski (36th season) wasted no time in reaching a place few NCAA Division III coaches have gone before: 800 career victories. Entering the year with a mark of 799-630-15 (55.9%), Ostrowski joined the elite 800-win club when his team defeated Eastern Nazarene College, 12-11 in 12 innings, in the opening game on its annual spring trip to Ft. Myers, Florida.
Ostrowski – or “O” as he is known by to most of his players and those in the BU community – is just the ninth person in NCAA Division III history to amass 800 victories at the same school and is 11th, overall, on the circuit’s all-time wins list. His 800 wins also ranks sixth in terms of most victories by an active NCAA III coach.
Ostrowski cut his coaching teeth as a student assistant for three years (1968-70) at Lewis University under the legendary Gordie Gillespie, who is college baseball’s all-time wins leader. In Ostrowski’s three seasons at Lewis, the Flyers increased their win total each year and averaged 31 wins per campaign.
In February 2007 Ostrowski, who also played soccer for the Flyers, was inducted into the Lewis University Athletics Hall of Fame.
From Lewis, Ostrowski went to Nebraska State University (now Chadron State), where he was a graduate assistant during the 1971 campaign. He received his first head coach assignment at Driscoll Catholic High School in Addison, Ill., during the 1972 season and took the Benedictine reins the very next year.
Ostrowski has brought the Eagles’ program a long way since victory No. 1 back in 1973 (a 4-3 squeaker over the University of Montevallo).
Ostrowski has guided Benedictine teams to 24 winning seasons, including 18 consecutive above the .500 plateau between 1987-2004. He has 26 seasons with 20-plus victories. Under Ostrowski’s tutelage, Benedictine has amassed 15 conference championships and been in the league’s top-two 29 times in his previous 35 campaigns. His teams have made seven NCAA Division III tournament appearances.
“(800 wins) means a lot of great memories,” said a reflective Ostrowski. “I’ve been blessed in so many ways to be a part of an institution like Benedictine, which is an easy sell when you’re recruiting. 800 wins brings a lot of perspective back. As I look back at so many memories, I remember a lot of the homeruns, the great pitched games, a lot of NCAA and NAIA tournament appearances, as well as the chance to coach my own son (Ted, 2005-07). They are all great memories!
“But I think the thing I look back on and remember the most were the kids who were ‘late bloomers’; who all of a sudden turned 20 or 21 and their game just came together. I think that’s what makes coaching at this level the most exciting.”
While Ostrowski is proud of what his Eagles’ teams have produced in terms of on-field success, he finds equal satisfaction in seeing his players move on to the “real world.” Last year, Benedictine University established the John Ostrowski Leadership Endowed Scholarship (designed to honor leadership in the classroom and extracurricular activities) to not only pay tribute to Ostrowski’s 35th year of coaching, but to his desire to integrate life lessons into the intercollegiate athletic experience.
“Benedictine’s education opportunities are the main factor for the success (of the former players) and I’d like to think that the baseball experience has been a part of their ‘education’, explained Ostrowski. “There’s a lot to be learned from the competitive sports experience.”
Ostrowski earned his bachelor’s degree in sociology from Lewis in 1970, and his master’s degree from Nebraska State in 1971. He and his wife Mary have five children and reside in Palos Park, Illinois.
Benedictine University is an independent Roman Catholic institution located in Lisle, Illinois just 25 miles west of Chicago. Founded in 1887, Benedictine provides 56 undergraduate majors, 16 graduate and four doctorate programs. The Chronicle of Higher Education
recently ranked Benedictine University as the seventh fastest-growing campus among private nonprofit master’s universities, and Forbes
magazine named Benedictine among the top 20 percent of America’s colleges for 2011. Benedictine University’s Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program is listed by Crain’s Chicago Business
as the fourth largest in the Chicago area in 2011.