SHAWNEE—Three long-time Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU) assistant coaches have landed head coaching opportunities in regional NCAA Division II schools.
Zach Johnson, Chris Klimas and Kyle Tolin had a combined 33 years of coaching experience on Bison Hill. Johnson is the new cross country coach at Cameron University, Klimas is now the head baseball coach at Rogers State University and Tolin took the helm of the men’s basketball team at University of Arkansas-Monticello. All three are OBU alumni.
“All three of these men were outstanding coaches here and contributed a great deal to their respective programs,” said OBU Director of Athletics Robert Davenport. “They will be missed here, but we are very proud of these three OBU alums and the impact they had both as athletes and coaches. These guys getting head coaching positions are tributes to their former head coaches who prepared them for their moves. We have great head coaches who prepared these guys in a way that will help them become great head coaches in their own rights.”
Johnson has spent the last decade at OBU as the program’s cross country and assistant track and field coach. During that time, Johnson was named Sooner Athletic Conference (SAC)/Region VI Coach of the Year six times in cross country and helped lead the Bison to six top-10 finishes at NAIA nationals.
Additionally, while at OBU, he coached student-athletes under NAIA legend Ford Mastin to 11 track and field individual national titles, one individual cross country national title, and two national records. During his 10 seasons at OBU, Johnson had 56 All-Americans, and 11 OBU records broken.
Johnson earned his undergraduate degree at Oklahoma Baptist where he was a track and field student-athlete. In 1999, he was crowned as the NAIA National Champion in the marathon and was a two-time national NAIA Cross Country qualifier. In the postseason, Johnson was a two-time NAIA All-American, and a three time NAIA Academic All-American.
After a two-year playing career, Klimas spent 13 years as an assistant head coach, eventually being promoted to associate head coach under NAIA Hall of Famer Bobby Cox.
Klimas has helped the Bison to four consecutive NAIA Baseball National Tournaments and qualified for the NAIA World Series twice in the last four years. Since 2011, the Bison have tallied an 80.8-percent winning percentage, registering a SAC Tournament Championship in 2012 and 2014.
“Leaving the OBU family is an extremely bittersweet moment for Penny and me, but the opportunity at Rogers State is an incredible situation, and is something that my family and I are excited to begin,” said Klimas. “Leaving the people and university that I have come to love is by far the hardest part of making this move. My experience at OBU has been much more than a job to me over the past 13 years; it has been so enjoyable that I’ve never had a day that I’ve felt like I had to go to work.”
Tolin played four years at OBU, earning Outstanding Senior Athlete honors and leading the team in assists three seasons. Tolin scored more than 1,000 points during his four-year career, and was a two-time All-SAC honorable mention. He played in every game during his career, and in addition to his scoring, averaged 4.3 assists per game overall.
He spent 10 years as an assistant coach, the last few years as associate head coach under his father, Doug Tolin, winner of the 2010 NAIA Coach of the Year honors.
“I am so thankful that I got the opportunity to work at such a great institution as OBU and under such a high character man in my dad,” said Kyle Tolin. “He has given me the road map for how you run a successful program through hard work, accountability and integrity, and I am forever in debt for the opportunity he has allowed me.
“OBU is a great place. It is a place that I will always consider home. My family and I have some of our greatest memories on Bison Hill. OBU has been a family to me and a place I have enjoyed being mentored and grown in all aspects of my life.”
During his coaching career, Tolin helped OBU obtain the highest winning percentage of any four-year university in Oklahoma. The Bison pulled off three straight Sooner Athletic Conference championships from 2010-2012.