May 23, 2012
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Dusty Napoleon is back at the University of Iowa to finish what he started... his degree. The former Hawkeye standout spent this season as the UI baseball team's undergraduate assistant coach while working toward his degree.
"I wanted to come back and finish my degree and help the guys win," said Napoleon.
Napoleon played at Iowa from 2006-07 before being drafted by Oakland in the 19th round of the 2007 Major League Baseball Draft. He played at all four minor league levels from 2007-2010 and made it to the Triple A level in 2010.
"I hit a home run in my second game at Triple A in front of about 12,000 fans," said Napoleon. "That was one of my top baseball experiences."
As a Hawkeye, Napoleon appeared in 105 games and made 100 starts. The former catcher and first baseman led the team with 34 RBIs and tied for the team lead with two home runs in 2006 as a freshman.
In 2007, Napoleon ranked third on the team with a .354 batting average. He ranked first on the team in RBI (56), walks (50), on-base percentage (.506) and was second with 12 doubles, 44 runs scored and 62 hits.
Napoleon has enjoyed his return to the program, this time in a different capacity.
"It has been great, and very interesting, to see the other side of things," said Napoleon about working with the coaches, head coach Jack Dahm and assistant coach Ryan Brownlee, he once played for. "Making that transition from playing for them, to now coaching with them, has been great.
"I see the same things now as I saw when I was a player. The coaches really care about their players and they really want them to succeed on the field and academically. I want to thank coach Dahm and the rest of the coaching staff for allowing me to come back and help out the program."
Iowa finished its season one game out of a four-way tie for sixth place in the Big Ten standings. Napoleon and the Hawkeyes took 2-of-3 at Duane Banks Field from No. 13 Purdue last weekend to close the season, marking the first time the Boilermakers dropped a conference series all season.
Napoleon is thankful for the opportunity to return and finish his degree.
"It is really important. When I left here early, I made sure I got it in my contract that I would get school paid for," he said. "Education has always been important to me, and I know that coming back to graduate makes my parents and grandparents very happy."
Napoleon is taking two more classes this summer to complete his degree in health and sports studies and will then look to make the next step in the college coaching ranks.
For Napoleon, it is the best of both worlds. He has had the opportunity to play baseball at Iowa and professionally, and is now completing his degree while again helping the Hawkeyes.
"It has been a great experience," said Napoleon. "I really enjoyed my time playing here at Iowa. I made great friends that I will have for the rest of my life. Then I was able to go play with the (Oakland) A's. That was a great experience that people dream about doing. I really enjoyed my time there.
"Now, coming back to coach, this is something I want to do for my career. Overall, the last seven years have been awesome."