College sports

Athletic department growth continues at Purdue Calumet

2013-01-09T19:30:00Z 2013-01-21T21:22:24Z Athletic department growth continues at Purdue CalumetMatt Douthett Matthew.douthett@nwi.com, (219) 933-4194 nwitimes.com

HAMMOND | Dave Griffin has been a name synonymous with baseball in Northwest Indiana for two decades.

He has run the Dave Griffin Baseball School in Griffith for the past 20 years, where he has helped more than 870 athletes play baseball at the college level, and his school has also produced 34 players who have been drafted by MLB organizations.

Griffin also coached Bishop Noll to the 2004 Class 2A state championship and has coached the Indiana Playmakers travel baseball team since 1998. Therefore, it came to no surprise when Griffin was hired to coach Purdue Calumet's first baseball team.

A national search was conducted, but Griffin's Region ties certainly helped matters, according to athletic director Rick Costello.

"We were very thorough in our interview process and (Griffin) rose to the top," Costello said. "He's got all kinds of connections in the area. What I really liked about him was his energy and passion. You could tell he's such a great teacher of the game. I could see him being very successful here."

Griffin has envisioned himself coaching at the collegiate level before, so to say he's glad he got the position would be an understatement.

"I've always said Purdue Calumet is a gold mine waiting to be harvested by somebody," Griffin said during a press conference on Wednesday. "I'm going to do everything I can to make this community strong and bring everybody together. It's nothing but a great opportunity here for everybody involved. I'm just glad to be a part of it."

Fall baseball will start this year, with a full varsity schedule beginning in the spring of 2014.

The athletic department also hired Heather Tarter to coach the Peregrines' new softball program.

Tarter spent the past four seasons as the top assistant coach at Parkland College in Champaign, Ill., and has experience in recruiting players in the Chicago area.

Tarter has always dreamed of building a program from the ground up.

She's already talking to two of her former players at Parkland about playing for her again.

"I'm just looking forward to getting the Purdue Cal name out there," she said. "I'm looking forward to getting new recruits right away, and hopefully some junior college transfers will come in and help us build this program and get everyone knowing who Purdue Cal is."

A Merrillville resident, Tarter plated at Kankakee Community College for two years before completing her collegiate softball career at Northern Iowa.

Talks with the city of Hammond have been made for both programs to play at Dowling Park.

The excitement of two new sports programs has been evident, and Costello is glad to be a part of it all.

"It's kind of neat for a hometown university to offer this wide variety of programs," he said. "If we can keep a lot of these Northwest Indiana kids home, they'll get a great education if they come here to Purdue. Now you've got an athletic program with a wide variety of offerings. I think we're a very well-kept secret that's blossomed quickly."

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