PHILADELPHIA – The University of Pennsylvania’s Director of Athletics, Steven J. Bilsky W’71, has announced the promotion of John Yurkow to the position of W. Joseph Blood Head Coach of Baseball.
Yurkow has spent the last seven seasons as the Quakers’ top assistant coach. In that position, his duties have included handling all aspects of recruiting, hitting instruction, infield instruction, and coaching third base.
“After conducting a national search, we ultimately decided that the best candidate was right here within our staff,” said Bilsky. “John knows our program and its players, he understands what it takes to get the best players here to Penn, and I am excited to promote him and have him lead our program going forward.”
“Over the past year that I have observed our baseball program, I have watched John Yurkow and seen that he has a very good working relationship with our players and staff,” said Senior Associate Director of Athletics Tony Vecchione, who oversaw the coaching search. “He is a tireless recruiter and has brought us some exceptionally talented players. I am looking forward to working with John as our head baseball coach.”
“This is a tremendous opportunity, and I cannot express properly how excited I am,” said Yurkow. “I want to thank Steve Bilsky, Tony Vecchione, and the entire Penn administrative staff for having the confidence in me to be the next head coach of the Penn baseball program. I also want to thank all of the current players and alumni who have been supportive of me during the search process."
“Penn is a great place to work, and Philadelphia is a fantastic place to live. As a local product, I am excited to take on this endeavor and lead the next generation of Quaker baseball. Over the past seven years I have developed the utmost respect for what it takes to be a standout student-athlete at the University of Pennsylvania, and I cannot wait to begin my new role with the tremendous group of talent we have.”
After one season at Penn, Yurkow was promoted to recruiting coordinator for the Quakers prior to the 2008 season. His hard work in that area has paid dividends -- after having just two players earn first-team All-Ivy from 2004-09, the program has had 11 players receive the honor since 2010 in addition to an Ivy League Player of the Year (Tom Grandieri, 2010) and an Ivy League Pitcher of the Year (Paul Cusick, 2011). Also in that time, two Quakers have been chosen in the Major League Baseball draft -- Cusick by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2011, and Vince Voiro twice (2011 by the San Diego Padres, 2012 by the Oakland A’s).
This past season, Ryan Deitrich was named the Big 5 Player of the Year while Mike Vilardo was the city’s Big 5 Rookie of the Year. In 2009, Derek Vigoa was the Big 5 Rookie of the Year. During the past five seasons, 15 players have been named to the All-Big 5 Baseball Team.
Yurkow arrived at Penn after serving as an assistant at Duke University from 2001-05. He began as a volunteer assistant, then was promoted to assistant coach and co-recruiting coordinator in January 2003. His responsibilities included all aspects of the team offense and teaching the hitting philosophy as well as overseeing infield play. He also served as an assistant at Rowan from 1999-2001.
Yurkow was a four-year starter at Rowan University where he played second base. During his career, he helped lead the Profs to the NCAA Regional championship four times. In Yurkow’s senior year, he garnered NCAA Division III All-America honors as he led the Profs to a 36-8 record and the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) championship. He was also a two-time selection to the NCAA All-Mid-Atlantic Region team, in 1998 and 1999. Yurkow was an NJAC All-Conference selection in 1998 and 1999 and the NJAC Tournament MVP in 1999.
John and his wife, Niki, live in New Jersey with their daughter, Rosa (8).