Will Dixon is one of the best pitchers in Colorado Mesa baseball history. In 2019, Dixon was a first-team All-American only giving up three earned runs in 50 innings pitched and helped CMU to a national championship appearance.
The closer became a school legend when he threw a complete game shutout in a 1-0 win against Central Missouri in his first career start to advance to the national championship.
Dixon is back on the team, but he has a new role. Now the players call him coach.
“It’s weird. It’s definitely different,” Dixon said. “There’s a lot more responsibility on my end now to make sure the guys are getting ready week-to-week. With what my job entails, just help coach [Chris] Hanks anyway I can.”
The Highlands Ranch, Colorado native is a graduate assistant for the Mavericks continuing his love for baseball.
“From day one I said this is going to be my new role and I’m going to embrace it,” Dixon said.
“The new players have heard the stories and what type of competitor he was and what he did for us,” head coach Chris Hanks said.
When it comes to pitching mechanics and concepts Will is taking a back seat. Pitching coach Jeff Rodgers does most of the work in that area, and Will is trying to build the foundation that the coaches and former players have been developing for years.
“Rodgers is a pitching guru,” Dixon said. “He takes care of 95 percent of that stuff.”
But what he brings, that not many coaches have, is the mentality and approach of national championship contender.
“Mine comes down to more the mental side of pitching. I’ll touch on that with guys a little bit if they ask,” Dixon added.
“What Will brings a lot of, from a pitching standpoint, is the mentality of attacking hitters, setting them up, and competing,” Hanks added.
“When I came in I wanted to be kind of like him,” CMU junior transfer Anthony Durbano. “What he’s taught me overall is just to be fluent on the mound. He’s definitely going to be a great coach in the future, I think he’s a great coach right now. To come from a player aspect to what he’s becoming now is unreal.”
What we could only assume be the most interesting part of the transition is going from somebody’s teammate to coach.
“It’s different,” Will said. “But, Hunter [Douglas] and I were both in a leadership role last year so there’s that respect there from the guys already. It wasn’t too hard of a switch.”
What took some getting used to though is how much work the coaches do that the players aren’t aware of.
“You think this is what the coaches do, then you get there and you’re like, ‘Wow, I’ve got a lot more work that I’ve got to get done.’” Dixon said. “That’s probably been the biggest transformation, seeing all the work behind the scenes that nobody else sees that as players we kind of take for granted.
“We don’t really understand what the coaches do for us.”Will Dixon
In his new role Will has found a new inspiration within the same game, just from a different perspective.
“I know my days as a player are gone, but now I get to see other guys work really hard for a number of years then reap the reward from it,” Dixon said.
Will doesn’t know how long he plans on coaching at the collegiate level, but he coaches a high school travel ball team during summers. He wants to pursue coaching at that level more in the future.