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Kingston Excited for “Unique Opportunity” at Creighton

by Jun 19, 2024Creighton Baseball

Kingston Excited for “Unique Opportunity” at Creighton
Photo Credit: Eric Francis

More than a decade ago, Mark Kingston and Ed Servais butted heads over field space during batting practice when Servais’s Bluejays were preparing for a game against Kingston’s Red Birds at Illinois State.

In 2025, the two will share a dugout as Kingston serves as Servais’ associate head coach and Creighton’s coach-in-waiting before he succeeds Servais heading into 2026. The argument was one of many “feisty battles” between Kingston and Servais while the two coached against each other during their Missouri Valley days.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for Ed,” Kingston told media members during an introductory Zoom call on Tuesday. “I’ve always thought his teams were very well coached. Obviously, the defensive side speaks for itself and he’s won a lot of games over the years. I look forward to being shoulder to shoulder with him and trying to make sure he goes out on a good note. But the Creighton-Illinois State battles back in the day were always very, very competitive and you had to earn your wins, they weren’t going to give you anything. So that’s what I’m hoping I am walking into now is a roster that’s built that is not going to beat itself and we can provide a lot of help in all the areas to try to help take it up another notch.”

Creighton announced on May 20 that Servais would retire at the end of the 2025 season and that the program had begun a search for a coach-in-waiting who would serve under Servais during his final season before taking over. All three of Creighton’s assistant coaches — Connor Gandossy, Mitch Morman and Cam Johnson — reportedly accepted jobs with other programs over the past few weeks. On June Monday, the search came to an end as Creighton announced Kingston would be its next head coach.

“I look at this as a very unique opportunity,” Kingston said. “My background has been filled with some private institutions where we did very well, Miami and Tulane. And so when Marcus called me about this opportunity, it completely caught me off guard, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought it made a lot of sense. When you combine that education with that stadium and that town, the more I thought about it, the more I thought this might be a really good fit for myself, for our family. We investigated and we came up to Omaha, my wife and I, and we tried it on for size and it just really, really fit us in from every angle. So I’m very excited to be there. Our family’s very excited for the opportunity.

“As I look at the program, obviously, there’ve been a lot of great moments in the program’s history and we want to build on that. I’ll be shoulder to shoulder with Ed for the next year trying to serve our players and do everything we can to make this a great experience for the ‘25 season and then after that, we want to continue to build this program and make it one of the premier programs around and help it to reach its potential. That’s really what coaches do, they’re there to serve players, help them reach their potential on and off the field, and then the byproduct of doing that well will be that your program is in a great space, it’s very healthy and it’s winning as many games as it should be.”

Kingston spent five seasons at the helm of Illinois State with one NCAA Tournament appearance, three years leading South Florida with two tournament trips and seven years at South Carolina with four postseason berths including two Super Regional appearances, though he never took the Gamecocks to Omaha.

South Carolina fired Kingston on June 3, and two weeks later he was a Bluejay. Going outside the program for a coach-in-waiting was an unorthodox move by Creighton athletic director Marcus Blossom, but Kingston said he sees some advantages to the set-up for the 2025 season.

“I can get to know the players, I can get to know the city, I can get to know all the people that support our program, I can get to know the administrators,” Kingston said. “You get a head start, and I’ve already agreed with Ed that any game we win this year will go on my record and any game we lose will go on his, so I’m really excited about that as well. So basically it’s a year to come in and help the players to have a great year in 2025, but also be able to set the foundation for the future. So I’ll be able to kind of look at a lot of things from a lot of different angles and I think that’s a good thing.”

Kingston holds Servais’ defensive acumen in high regard and is hoping to learn his methods in their lone season together in addition to picking up a few pointers about fertile recruiting grounds for the program.

As for his own recruiting philosophy, Kingston said he is hoping to learn more about what will serve Creighton best in terms of targeting players from the transfer portal, junior college and high school ranks before determining the proper strategy.

“Recruiting is about relationships, it’s about knowing people, it’s about creating a reputation where people know they can trust you with their players and with their kids, and that’s the reputation we will have,” Kingston said. “We’re going to treat our players the right way. We’re going to have basically what you would call Midwestern values. We’re going to treat people the right way, we’re going to have an old-school work ethic, but we’re also going to combine that with new-school communication and how we go about our business, because you have to evolve. I think our reputation is very good in the Midwest. I think we’ll come in with a pedigree and résumés that people will be very intrigued to want to be coached by our entire staff.

“So, again, we will make sure that they know that the package that Creighton provides, when you look at the education, the stadium, the city and then a very established coaching staff that has a great history of winning a lot of games but also developing players and helping provide a lot of players for Major League Baseball over the years. I just think it should be a very attractive package for any travel ball coach or any player that’s looking for the right spot.”

Kingston is set to arrive on campus in Omaha later this month to begin his tenure as a Bluejay, though the work has already begun. Connor Capece, a freshman catcher/pitcher and Omaha Gross Catholic graduate, announced he decided to withdraw from the transfer portal after a conversation with Kingston and is returning to Creighton for his sophomore year, the first recruiting win since Kingston’s hire became official.

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