CHAMPAIGN — Former Illinois baseball player Casey Fletcher still had his eyes set on a long professional playing career. Then Illini head coach Dan Hartleb reached out.
“I got a text from Coach Hartleb just asking what my status was, if I was going to keep playing or just what I was going to do.”
Coaching has always been the plan for Casey Fletcher but he wasn’t exactly ready to make the jump just yet.
“At first I was kind of reluctant because I wanted to keep playing and all. I told him that, no I didn’t want to do it at first,” Fletcher said.
After a few days of thinking, and talking it over with his family, Fletcher decided to join the Illini staff. But only until it was time for him to start his playing career again in May.
“Just with all the history here with me playing here and my dad playing here and my grandpa playing here and I kind of fell in love with coming back and just being here and helping out these guys,” the Oakwood native added.
His first few weeks as a coach went so smooth, he decided to hang up his cleats for good.
“Probably made the decision a couple weeks ago that I was going to be done with baseball and that was it for me,” Fletcher said. “I’m content with what I did in my career and I’m ready for this next stage of my life.”
“He has such great baseball awareness and knowledge, really cares about this place, has great energy and so I think it’s important to have people here that understand what we’re trying to do and what the expectations are and those young guys coming back and helping the current players is awesome,” Hartleb said.
Fletcher brings a winning resume to the Illini staff. He was an integral part of the record setting 2015 team that won a program record 50 games, including 27 in a row at one point.
“I really try to not bring it up at all but what I like to do is, I like to just tell them about how the winning part of that team and how we all came together and how special that was for all of us,” said Fletcher.
Now he’s hoping to bring this young Illini team together and bring the Illini back to relevance.
“I just figured that I can be helpful in a lot of other areas and I can be helpful not by just being Casey Fletcher the player,” he said. “I can be Casey Fletcher the coach and Casey Fletcher the mentor that can help these guys with baseball and every day lives and just be a resource for them.”