Steve Jaksa has continued the tradition of Chippewa baseball competing at a championship level since he returned to his alma mater and took over as head coach in 2003.
CMU, the winningest Division I baseball program in the Midwest since 1972, has won three Mid-American Conference regular-season championships (2004, ’10, ’15) and six MAC West Division titles (’04, ’06, ’10, ’11, ’15, ‘17) during Jaksa’s 15 years in charge of the program.
Jaksa has amassed a 478-389-1 record (.550 win percentage) at CMU and has led the Chippewas to 11 winning seasons including 10 in which they posted at least 30 wins. In 2005, the Jaksa-led Chippewas finished with 42 victories, the fourth-highest total in program history and the most since a 47-win campaign in 1988.
On March 18, 2017, the Chippewas defeated Northwestern, 5-1, giving Jaksa his 454th career victory at CMU and moving him into second place in program history. He trails only the legendary Dean Kreiner, who led CMU to 516 wins from 1985-98. Jaksa passed another legend, Dave Keilitz, on the career victory list. Keilitz led CMU to 453 victories from 1971-84.
Jaksa has won more games against Division I competition than any coach in program history. Including a year as the head coach at Division II Northwood, his career record as a collegiate coach stands at 506-414-1.
Jaksa’s record in the MAC is even more impressive, as he has led the Chippewas to a 241-146 mark (.622 win percentage). He has twice been named MAC Coach of the Year (2004, ’15), and the Chippewas have finished first or second in the MAC West 10 times under Jaksa’s guidance. He has guided the Chippewas to the MAC Tournament championship game three times.
While at CMU, Jaksa has mentored 51 All-MAC selections, including 19 first team honorees, three MAC All-Defensive Team picks, one MAC Player of the Year winner, Two MAC Pitcher of the Year winners, one MAC Freshman of the Year honoree, one MAC Freshman Pitcher of the Year winner, one American Baseball Coaches Association Rawlings Gold Glove winner, nine all-region picks, three All-Americans, and seven Freshman All-Americans.
In 2017, outfielder Daniel Jipping was named a Second Team Academic All-American, to the American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings All-Mideast Region First Team, and to the All-MAC First Team before being selected by the Colorado Rockies in the 22nd round of the Major League Entry Draft.
Jipping became the 43rd player to have played for Jaksa at CMU to have been drafted or been signed by a Major League Baseball club. Fifteen of those players have come through Jaksa's program over the last five seasons.
Also in 2017, catcher Robert Greenman was also named All-MAC First Team, while the Chippewa pitchers Colton Bradley, Pat Leatherman and Tyler Hankins were each named to the all-conference second team. Hankins earned the MAC Freshman Pitcher of the Year Award.
Jaksa's program has excelled as well on the academic side, claiming five CoSIDA Academic All-Americans, eight CoSIDA Academic All-District selections, 45 Academic All-MAC honorees, and 11 MAC Distinguished Scholar-Athletes.
Jaksa has served the past eight seasons as one of 31 Division I coaches to vote in the USA Today/ESPN Top 25 poll. He also is one of just eight coaches on the ABCA All-American Committee and is entering his fourth season in that role.
Jaksa earned two letters while compiling a 12-4 career record with four saves and a 2.76 earned run average at CMU, from which he received his bachelor of science degree in 1979.
He led the ’79 Chippewas with seven victories, and his career ERA ranks 11th in school history among pitchers who logged at least 100 innings.
Jaksa worked as an assistant coach at Miami (Ohio) while earning his master’s degree in 1986, then coached for 11 years at Nouvel Catholic Central High School in Saginaw, compiling a 353-106 record and winning state championships in 1990 and ’97. He also served for 10 years as the school’s athletic director.
Jaksa coached at Northwood University in 1998, leading the Timberwolves to a 28-25 finish, then joined coach Judd Folske’s CMU staff in 1999 and served as an assistant, overseeing pitchers and catchers, until 2002. Jaksa’s 1999 Chippewa pitching staff led the MAC and ranked 17th nationally in ERA.
Jaksa, a native of Grand Blanc, Mich., was inducted into the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2000. In 2004, he was inducted into the Greater Flint Sports Hall of Fame as a member of the 1974 national champion Connie Mack team, and in 2013 he received the Grand Blanc High School Distinguished Alumni Award.
Jaksa and his wife Patti have four children: Stacey, Rachel, Marc and Kelly.