2019 Head Coach Annouced
By Andrew Carey
SYRACUSE, NEW YORK— The Syracuse Spartans have named their new head coach for the 2019
season, Matt Michalski. Michalski is a 2018 SUNY Cortland graduate, where he played infield for
the Red Dragons. The Buffalo, New York native served as an assistant this past season under
manager Brian Burns.
The Cortland graduate served as the third base coach for the Spartans during their 2018 season.
In addition, Michalski worked with the infielders and also assisted with hitting drills. Michalski
also served a brief six inning stint as manager, when Brian Burns was thrown out of a game
against the Syracuse Salt Cats.
Spartans GM, JJ Potrikus had this to say about Michalski’s role in the organization last season,
“He showed tremendous grown as a coach as well as a person last year. It made me proud to
have him as a part of the organization. His confidence grew as a 3rd Base Coach and he found
his voice with the players.”
He brings great experience and leadership to the Spartans organization. He also shares
something in common with GM, JJ Potrikus. Both played at Cortland under Red Dragon head
coach Joe Brown, who doubles as the president of the NYCBL.
Potrikus displayed good reason for the hire, “He (Michalski) is a former national champion
baseball player at Cortland. Being a Red Dragon and a product of Coach Brown, the
commissioner of the NYCBL, means that I know what kind of guy I am getting.”
Under Brown, Michalski learned the tools that great players must have. According to Michalski,
“In today’s game, as kids progress and mature, the biggest thing I look for is being coachable. A
player needs to be approachable, and someone who doesn’t think it’s all about him. I am
looking to find kids who put the team goal first. I look for kids who can soak up information and
are willing to get better.”
Brian Burns guided the Spartans in 2018 to an 18-24 record and a near playoff berth. In the
team’s inaugural 2017 season, the Spartans made the playoffs and reached the NYCBL
championship, behind James Williamson’s managing.
Michalski has turned his attention to recruiting the Spartans roster for the 2019 season. Last
year, the team was made up of players primarily that play in New York state or are from New
“We go to fall ball games and do some recruiting there. I have made a lot of connections with
other coaches and have conversations surrounding other players,” Michalski said. “Being from
Central New York, it naturally branches out to New York players. It’s nice to get kids from New
York state and the Syracuse area, because it’s nice for those kids to play close to home and feel
A former five-year member of the Cortland State baseball team, Michalski went on to help his
team to its first National Championship in 2015. During the championship season, Michalski
batted .369 through the 49 games. At the College World Series, Michalski went on to bat over
.500 and was awarded to the All-Tournament team. He also received the Top-Defensive Player
award during the 8-game stint. He was a Captain of the baseball team his senior year and
finished with a career 154 – 35 record. He was a three year starter for the Red Dragons, earning
all-conference recognition during each of those seasons.
At the high school level, Michalski starred at St. Francis Prep in the Buffalo area, where he
played hockey as well. At St. Francis, he earned All-Catholic honors each of his three years on
varsity, including an Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year Honor. His senior season, he
earned All-Western New York Honorable Mention.
During the offseason Michalski worked on fine tuning his coaching skills, “After the season, I
started working with Kevin Newby, who showed me a different style of hitting. This year my
hitting knowledge has really expanded, and I can’t wait for the season to get started and
implement what he’s taught me.”
Michalski studied Physical Education at Cortland and is currently in Graduate School. He is a
Volunteer Assistant coach for Cortland under NYCBL Commissioner Joe Brown.