The United States Sports Academy announces the hire of Mike Neal as its inaugural Head Baseball Coach.  Neal comes to the Eastern Shore after spending 25 years as the Head Baseball Coach at Blackburn College in Carlinville, Illinois. Neal is the winningest coach in Blackburn College history in any sport finishing with 362 victories at Blackburn and currently has 437 victories collegiately.  During his time at Blackburn, Neal’s teams set the school record for victories in a season three times.  His 2002 team won the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) for the first time in school history and advanced to the NCAA Division III regional in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. A year later his Blackburn team defeated Division I Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.  In 2004, his team won the SLIAC conference for the second time and advanced to the NCAA Division III regional in Bloomington, Illinois.  Blackburn defeated the hosts and number one seed Illinois Wesleyan University on their home field for the only NCAA tournament victory in any sport in the history of Blackburn College.  Then in 2005, his team went 28-14 which still stands as the school record for most victories and best winning percentage. During his tenure, Coach Neal had 53 players named to the all-conference team while two were named the conference Player of the Year. 

For over the past 20 years, Neal has worked as a coordinator at the Vanderbilt University baseball camps where he has learned from the staffs of the two-time national champion Commodores. 

Prior to Blackburn, Neal was the Head Baseball Coach at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois. Neal was hired at age 25 making him one of the youngest head coaches in the country. While at Millikin, Coach Neal coached Rob Ruch who was a 16th round draft selection by the Minnesota Twins. 

During the summers from 1991-1999, Neal was the Head Coach of the Bloomington Bobcats of the Collegiate Summer Baseball Association. In 1998, the Bobcats won the National Championship of the Continental Baseball Association at the World Series. 

Coach Neal travelled to Prague in Czech Republic for three different trips coaching a USA team made up of college players for the USA Baseball International organization to play in the Prague Baseball Week Tournament placing two of those years. In 2005, Neal took a team to Barcelona, Spain with Coach Dan Callahan from Southern Illinois University to play a five-game series against the national team of Spain. 

Before Millikin, Neal was a graduate assistant coach at Northeast Louisiana University in Monroe, Louisiana, now named the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Neal earned his master’s degree in communication from NLU in 1992. During his two years at NLU he coached outfielders and worked in the Radio Television and Film department there.  

Neal, a 1989 graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University in his hometown of Bloomington, Illinois, was a member of the 1989 team that won the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin and advanced to the NCAA Division III regional. Neal earned his bachelor’s degree in speech at Illinois Wesleyan. 

He is also a 1987 graduate of Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield, Illinois earning an associate of arts degree in communication. As a member of the 1987 team that was the state of Illinois champions advancing to the NJCAA Regional in Grand Rapids, Michigan falling one game short of advancing to the NJCAA World Series in Grand Junction, Colorado. 

Neal was a three-year varsity player at Bloomington High School earning first team All-Big Twelve conference as a centerfielder. Neal is the son of the late Michael Neal and Judy Neal of Bloomington. Neal has a sister Felicia Lindl of Magnolia, Texas who is a former track coach and current Pilate’s instructor and a brother Tyler who is an orthopaedic surgeon in Bloomington. Neal is the proud uncle of three nephews and three nieces Sean and Lauren Lindl of Magnolia, Texas and Braden, Hallie, Heidi, and Caleb Neal of Bloomington. 

What Others Are Saying: 

Tim Corbin: Head Baseball Coach of two-time national champion Vanderbilt University: “I have known Mike Neal for 23 years. He has been a foundational piece of our camps here at Vanderbilt and a trustworthy mentor and friend. This is such a great match for the coach and the institution. Mike is a genuine human being with great communication and teaching skills. He gets his coaching skills honestly. He has served in every imaginable position in college coaching and administration while shaping the lives of many individuals. Congratulations to United States Sports Academy for recognizing a loyal and trusted coach that will impact a program and its university in a very favourable way.” 

Derek Johnson: Major League Pitching Coach of the Cincinnati Reds: “I’m thrilled for the United States Sports Academy to have tasked Mike to build and lead their baseball program. I have known Mike well over 30 years and spent many hours breaking down the nuances of the game we both love very much. He is a fine coach and will meet every need of a flourishing program. Moreover, he is a fine man that will become a pillar for the program, university, and the community. Great hire!” 

Gene Watson: Director of Player Personnel of the Chicago White Sox: “Mike Neal is not only one of the best baseball men I have had the opportunity to work with in my 35 years of professional baseball, but he is also one of the best men I have ever encountered. He is a true teacher of the game, leader of a program, and has a great love for his players. Congratulations to the United States Sports Academy on a tremendous hire.” 

Jared Jones: Travelling Secretary of the Cleveland Guardians: “Coach Neal brings a wealth of baseball knowledge and experience to campus. Beyond baseball, Coach Neal is always there for his players. From the recruiting process to life after graduation, he is always in your corner. He wants his players to win, not only on the field, but in life.” 

Blake Allen: Head Baseball Coach at DePauw University: “As a former player for Coach Neal’s very first team at Blackburn College, I am sad to see him leave [Blackburn College] but also very excited for him as he begins his new journey at the United States Sports Academy. Coach Neal is a great coach, mentor, and leader of young men. He is a relationship builder and I look forward to following his success for the Eagles baseball program.”