Coaching Staff

 

Neil Lerner
Associate Head Coach

Neil Lerner was named the associate head coach in the summer of 2018 after spending 11 seasons as an assistant coach for the Golden Bears and eight years as the head coach at Hopkins High School.

He originally served as an assistant coach to Mark "Lunch" McKenzie from McKenzie's first season in 2000 until 2005 and helped the Golden Bears win the NSIC Championship in 2003 after successfully assisting McKenzie in transitioning the program to the NCAA Division II level. He rejoined the staff for the 2014 season.

In this eight years at Hopkins HS, Lerner guided the Royals to three Classic Lake Conference Championships (2006, 2007, 2008), two MSHSL Section 6AAA Championships (2009, 2012) and were section runner-up in 2011. He also led the Royals to the first 8-0 season in Classic Lake Conference history. The 2012 Royals reached the section championship game for the third time in four years, advancing to the MSHSL Class AAA State Tournament twice in that span.

Lerner became a 100-game winner during the 2012 season as Hopkins defeated Edina in May 2, 2012.

Aside from his Concordia and Hopkins roots, Lerner has served as an instructor and clinician, leading numerous private and group lessons as well as being featured as a speaker at several high school coaches clinics.

A Hopkins High School graduate, Lerner earned All-Metro and All-State honors as a prep player for the Royals before moving onto a successful collegiate career at St. Olaf College where he was a two-time All-MIAC performer. He was a senior captain, All-Midwest Region and All-American for the Oles.

Away from the baseball field, Lerner previously worked as a junior high school social studies teacher and behavioral specialist at Hopkins West Junior High School. Neil and his wife, Kate, live in the Hopkins School District with their daughter, Sonia, and son, Max.

 

Marcus McKenzie
Assistant Coach

Marcus McKenzie enters 11th season as a member of the coaching staff in the 2018-19 academic year, serving as the team's pitching coach.

He has pitched four professional seasons with three organizations: the St. Paul Saints, Calgary Vipers (Golden League), the Rockford River Hawks of the Frontier League of Professional Baseball and Southern Illinois Miners.

He he has served five tours with USA Baseball since 2011 and has been awarded three gold medal rings, the first for the 2011 Pan American 18U Championship and more recently for the 18U World Championships in 2012 and 2013. He has also served as the 18U pitching coach at the Tournament of Stars.

As a prep player, Marcus starred at Minnetonka High School as well as with the Excelsior American Legion team. He was a three-time All-Conference pitcher / outfielder at Minnetonka and was named Metro Player of the Year by the Star Tribune in 2002. That same year he was named to the First Bank All-State Tournament Team and the Minnesota High School Coaches Association All-State Team - a feat he repeated in 2003. Marcus still holds several MSHSL pitching records. During the summer of 2002 Marcus led the Excelsior Legion Team to the Great Lakes Regional Championship on his way to being named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player and helped the team to the national championship game of the American Legion World Series while being named to Baseball America’s All-Tournament Team.

In addition to his prowess on the diamond, McKenzie was also a two time All-Conference prep football player and was named to the All-State Academic Football team as a punt and kick returner.

McKenzie started his college baseball career at the University of New Orleans under former Minnesota Twin Randy Bush. After Coach Bush left New Orleans to work for the Chicago Cubs, Marcus transferred and finished his college days at the University of Minnesota. Marcus was a three time Big Ten All-Academic selection and finished his senior year with a 7-1 record as a starting pitcher.

During the summer of 2004, Marcus pitched for the St. Cloud River Bats of the Northwood’s Collegiate League and posted a perfect 7-0 record with a 3.00 ERA on his way to winning the team's Strikeout Leader Award.

McKenzie finished his master's in organizational management at Concordia, graduating in the winter of 2010.

In the spring of 2018, McKenzie was promoted to full-time as the visiting clubhouse manager for the Minnesota Twins. He also works as a visiting clubhouse manager for the Minnesota Vikings.

Marcus is married to CSP softball alum and assistant coach Katie Anderson.

 

Alex Alvarez
Assistant Coach

Alex Alvarez joins the CSP baseball coaching staff for the 2019 season.
 
Alvarez was a standout right-handed pitcher at Southwest Minnesota State playing under current head coach, Paul Blanchard. Alvarez was named SMSU's Pitcher of the Year in his senior season in 2012 as he pitched in eleven total games and starting six. In his three active seasons as a Mustang, Alvarez made 32 appearances, pitching 120.2 innings. While in college, Alex was a double major, receiving degrees in Exercise Science and Teaching, with a minor in coaching.  Coach Alvarez currently teaches physical education at Oakdale Elementary.
 
Alvarez has spent the last two seasons as the head varsity coach for North High School. Before then, he was the pitching coach for the Hopkins Flyers American Legion program. During his three seasons as the pitching coach, Alvarez guided his staff to a record of 71-40 and an ERA of 2.24. Alvarez was the head ninth grade coach for the St. Thomas Academy Cadets for two years posting an outstanding record of 31-3. Alvarez was also a coach for the Minnesota Millers 16U Baseball team associated with Pitch 2 Pitch, traveling all over the country competing in tournaments. Alvarez has been giving private and clinical lessons in all facets of the game since 2008. 
 

Travis Wagers
Assistant Coach

Travis Wagers rejoins the Golden Bear coaching staff for the 2019 season.
 
Wagers originally joined the Concordia baseball coaching staff in the 2012-13 academic year as a graduate assistant before continuing on as an assistant through the 2017 season.
 
Wagers was a 4-year key contributor to the Concordia track & field and cross country programs as a collegiate student-athlete. The Moose Lake, Minn. native excelled in mid-distance events and relay teams. He is a member of the school record 4x880 yard relay and 4x1-mile relay teams, with the records set during his junior campaign.
 
In addition to being a leader on the track/cross country teams, Wagers was active in the athletic department as a marketing intern during his senior year along with being a valued student worker in various roles throughout his collegiate career.
 
His baseball background includes earning three letters as a prep player for Moose Lake High School as a three-time captain. He earned 11 total athletic letters at MLHS, adding five in cross country and three in basketball. He was team captain for all three of his prep sports team as a senior and was a two-time All-Conference prep runner.
 
Wagers graduated in 2012 with a degree in sports management and he has two sisters that were Division II student-athletes: Kim played basketball at Minnesota Duluth, while Courtney played volleyball at South Dakota.
 

Alex LaPorte
Assistant Coach