One of the West Coast League’s founding members – the Kitsap BlueJackets – are celebrating their 10th anniversary season with a big change. Entering the team’s eleventh season, former BlueJackets’ head coach Matt Acker has returned to the club as an owner and as the team’s general manager. Kitsap’s co-founder and longtime managing partner Rick Smith will continue in his role as a partner, but is handing the reigns over to his former skipper, Acker.
“Bringing Matt’s energy and knowledge of the team and market back to Kitsap is going to make the BlueJackets better,” said Rick Smith. “I am thrilled he’s back and optimistic he will re-energize the market and better our community.”
In 2005, Rick Smith and his partners were named WCL Executives of the Year.
“(Acker’s) absolutely the right guy to lead the team from here forward. He will give all he’s got to make the BlueJackets competitive and keep the club ultra-involved in the community,” stated Smith.
Acker founded the Puget Sound College League (PSCL), and owns and operates PSCL Baseball LLC which manages the PSCL, PS Fall Ball, Puget Sound Tournaments, Puget Sound Camps, Puget Sound Umpire Academy, PS Youth League, the Thurston County Senators and PS Wholesale Baseball.
Matt also established Mack Athletics Inc. which operates the Kitsap BlueJackets, the California Instructional League, West Coast Guns Baseball and Pacific Showcases.
Coaching is still a priority for Acker. He is currently the head baseball coach at Timberline High School in Lacey, Washington; where he led the 2014 team to a 23-3 record. Prior to managing at Timberline, Acker was the head coach at Green River Community College from 2001-2010, and an assistant at St. Martin’s University from 2010-2012. At Green River, Matt holds the school’s career record for wins by a head baseball coach and he took the Gators to the playoffs five times.
As a player, he was named “Most Inspirational Player” at both North Thurston High School (Lacey, WA) and Central Washington University.
We recently asked him a few questions about his new role in sports management with the West Coast League’s Kitsap BlueJackets, a team Acker took to the WCL playoffs in 2007. Our Q&A with Kitsap owner/gm Acker is below.
WCL: What are you most looking forward to as an owner and gm in 2015?
Acker: I’m most excited about implementing our youth leagues, camps and tournaments while coordinating with what we are doing promotionally for the BlueJackets.
WCL: Any new plans for this summer that you can share with WCL fans?
Acker: Lots of new plans. Moving seating around, designating a kids area, increasing the footprint and quality of our beer garden, the addition of new business partners, fresh between-inning entertainment, more interns, upgraded playing surface, Hot Tequilas Diamond Girls at a lot of games, youth camps, leagues and tournaments, and we can now accept debit/credit cards. We have a long list and have set our goals high. We anticipate challenges but we have very attainable benchmarks. I work with a wonderful staff of people very experienced in our operations in other places. We are excited about our direction. We are moving forward listening to the BlueJacket faithful and members of the community who haven’t yet experienced a West Coast League game. Our product should reflect what we have learned.
WCL: What excites you most about your community, and why?
Acker: The people. As a child in Aberdeen I was around blue collar people. They worked labor intensive jobs, seasonally in a lot of cases, they worked really hard until the job was done. Their name was very important to them. Very proud and loyal people. I get to meet a lot of people like that in the Kitsap area. When I was older I moved to Olympia, where you find a lot of progressive, very educated, fast moving and opinionated people. You have to keep your mind sharp around folks like that and I believe it makes you mentally stronger doing so. I run into a lot of people like that in the Kitsap area too. Then I go up to the North part of the county and hear that Norwegian accent. The exact one my Grandfather Lowell Bagaason had and it brings back a lot of memories. The area feels like a mix of the places that I grew up and that is exciting to me. I feel very comfortable in the area, it feels like home.