NATHAN BLACKWOOD | HEAD COACH
Throughout its history, the Lubbock Christian University baseball program has remained its status among the nation's top NAIA powers and transitioning to be one of the top programs at the NCAA Div. II level. Much of that over the past decade-and-a-half has been due to the leadership of head coach Nathan Blackwood and his defiance towards maintaining the traditions and alumni relations of LCU baseball.
Heading into the 16th season under his leadership, the Chaps have amassed an overall mark of 623-252 (.728). Following a dominant stretch of success in the NAIA Sooner Athletic Conference, Blackwood led LCU into Division II play and the Heartland Conference without missing a beat. The Chaps finished in first place in their first season of Heartland play, amassing a 26-4 record against their new conference foes. In their five seasons in the Heartland, Blackwood and the Chaparrals are 92-41 (.692) in conference play and have claimed a pair of conference titles (2014, 2016).
After a down 2015 season (23-25, 10-14 in conference play) the Chaps bounced back big in 2016. Done with the Division II transition process, LCU went 37-19 overall and 20-4 in conference play, ranking as high as No. 6 nationally and earning a bid in the South Central Regional in their first season of eligibility for the NCAA Postseason.
Blackwood’s second Heartland Conference regular season title came in 2017, as the Chaps when 19-5 in Heartland play, reaching the South Central Regional again and finishing the year with a 38-16 overall record. LCU’s 2017 team was recognized with 13 All-Region accolades and the program’s first Division II Rawlings Gold Glove Award, given to catcher Chase Simmons.
The 2018 season saw another career milestone hit for Blackwood, as he earned his 600th win as a collegiate head coach – all with Lubbock Christian. The Chaps came close to repeating as Heartland Conference finishing with a 17-11 record in third, but just one game out of first place. LCU still ended up playing on championship Saturday in the Heartland Conference Tournament, but was unable to top St. Edward’s, missing the NCAA postseason for the first time since they became eligible.
During their NAIA run, Lubbock Christian University made four trips to the NAIA World Series under Blackwood's guidance. In their final NAIA season (2013), LCU qualified for the NAIA postseason and made their fifth consecutive NAIA Opening Round series of the NAIA National Championships after winning their first SAC Tournament Championship since 2009. Included in the mix for the 2013 season was a 6-5 win over Texas Tech University on April 14.
The 2012 season season was a tough one for the Chaps, as they went 31-26 overall and 18-12 in conference, but they made a nice late season run. They upset ranked Oklahoma City University (tournament host) to finish as a runner-up in the Sooner Athletic Conference Tournament, which earned them a spot in their fourth NAIA Opening Round tournament.
2011 was a memorable year for the Chaps. After a three-year span of claiming the SAC regular season title, the Chaps had to fight to continue a three-year consecutive streak of qualifying for the NAIA World Series. After a third place finish in the SAC regular season, the Chaps qualified for the NAIA Opening Round Series. LCU hosted the opening round tournament for a third consecutive season, and for the third straight year, the Chaps won the tournament and qualified for the World Series. The Chaps nearly had a fairy tale ending to the season, but would end up falling to Concordia (Calif.) in the championship game and they finished as NAIA World Series Runner-Up. They finished 50-14 overall (21-9 in the SAC).
In 2010, LCU made a trip to the World Series after posting a 24-5 record in SAC play to claim their third consecutive regular season conference title. The Chaps went 46-16 during the regular season and led the NAIA with a .371 batting average. Blackwood claimed Sooner Athletic Conference Coach of the Year and ABCA Regional Coach of the Year honors. The conference honor for Blackwood was his fourth over a seven year span.
The Chaps had a remarkable season in 2009 claiming the second National Championship in school history (first one since 1983) while amassing a 52-8 overall record. They claimed their third Sooner Athletic Conference title under Blackwood's guidance and were ranked No. 1 in the final national poll for the second consecutive year. He was named the 2009 National Coach of the Year and the SAC Coach of the Year.
The Chaps had a remarkable season in 2008 with a 53-4 final record, which was the lowest single-season loss total in Lubbock Christian history. They claimed their second Sooner Athletic Conference title under Blackwood's tenure and were ranked No. 1 in the final regular season NAIA Top 25 Poll. It was the first time the Chaps had received the No. 1 ranking since 1985.
The 2007 season saw the Chaps post an overall record of 37-17, finishing the campaign in the semi-finals of the NAIA Region VI Tournament in Houston. Their run in the post-season left them as the final SAC team in action in 2007. The Chaps managed a runner-up finish in the always-brutal SAC by posting a school-best 18-3 league mark, finishing just one-half game out of the conference title spot.
In only his third year at the helm of the Lubbock Christian University baseball team, Blackwood enjoyed a level of success few coaches ever get the opportunity to experience. In 2006, LCU completed (at the time) the third most successful season in school history as the Chaps won the NAIA Region VI title for the first time and then proceeded to win the NAIA Mid-South Super-Regional and advance to the NAIA World Series, where they finished third. On the year, LCU finished 50-17 to post back-to-back 50 win seasons and ended the regular season ranked No.6 in the nation.
In 2005, the Chaps completed a 17 game turnaround as they posted a 53-15 record, won their fourth Sooner Athletic Conference title, and advanced to the NAIA Region VI championship game. The marked turnaround demonstrated Coach Blackwood's ability to adjust quickly and was impressive enough to earn him both Sooner Athletic Conference and NAIA Region VI Coach of the Year Honors.
A native of Lubbock, Texas, Blackwood attended Lubbock Christian Schools where he played football, basketball, and baseball for the Eagles in the late 1980s. Following graduation, Blackwood moved across the street to Lubbock Christian University where he played baseball in 1991 and 1992, and he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies upon graduation in 1995.
After finishing up his undergraduate work, Blackwood held several different coaching positions around West Texas including stints in Ralls and Haskell. In 1998, he secured a job as the Assistant Baseball Coach at Harding University. While at Harding, Blackwood played an integral role in turning around the Bison program, and he also found time to attend class. In 2000, Blackwood received his Master's of Education Degree in Exercise Science, allowing him to return to LCU later that year as the Interim Chair of the Kinesiology Department until taking over the head coaching position for the Chaps in the summer of 2003.
Despite all of his talents and accomplishments, Blackwood's crowning achievements are his marriage to the former Kim Lindsey (LCU alumnus) in 1995 and his two children, Brennan and Lindsey.