Play Ball: Chris Olean Named Baseball Head Coach

Chris Olean, interim head coach of the St. Thomas baseball team since last January, has been hired for the full-time position.

St. Thomas athletics director Steve Fritz said Olean was chosen from a field of more than 100 applicants, two of whom were interviewed on campus last week along with Olean.

“Chris’ experience in the program as a player, assistant and interim coach are proven,” Fritz said. “He has a strong work ethic, relates well to his players and coaches, and has a maturity beyond his years. We expect our baseball program to remain as a conference and national leader.”

Olean stepped in a year ago as interim coach with the retirement of Dennis Denning, who coached the Tommies for 15 years and led them to two national titles. Olean led the 2010 Tommies to a 35-9 record, highlighted by a sweep of the MIAC regular-season and playoff championships.

He was the Tommies’ pitching coach on Denning’s staff for nine seasons, including their NCAA championship seasons of 2001 and 2009. As a player under Denning, he earned first-team All-America honors as a pitcher in 1999, when he led St. Thomas to an NCAA runner-up finish. For his career, he was 24-8 with 246 strikeouts in 248 innings.

Olean was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers and spent two seasons in their organization. He also played a season for the St. Paul Saints and in recent years has pitched for the amateur Miesville Mudhens, who won the 2007 Class B state championship when he was their manager.

For more information on Olean’s selection, see and “The Boys of Spring” profile published online in the spring 2010 St. Thomas magazine.

Footage for the “45 Seconds With Chris Olean” video on this page was taken during the Tommies’ 2010 spring break trip to Florida.