Brian Levin was sitting comfortably in Saint Louis when the Belmont Bruins came calling during the summer of 2016. “I was pretty much on cruise control at [Missouri-St. Louis],” Levin said. “We had a tremendous environment, lots of winning, a top-ten team for the last several years. There were three things that made the Belmont job really attractive to me. I thought that the conference was winnable. When I looked at some of the other coaches and the administration here, it’s obviously a good place to work from that standpoint. And the last thing was that it is a Christian school. I have a lot of convictions, so that was very appealing to me.”
Levin spent six years as the head coach at Missouri-St. Louis prior to Belmont and dominated the Division II ranks, winning three-quarters of his team’s games and 150 wins in his final three seasons as the Tritons coach.
In his first season at the helm of the Bruins, Levin led his new program to a sixteen-win improvement over the previous season. It’s team growth that Levin attributes to off-the-field improvement as well as on-the-field. “In a short time, we created just a really good culture and environment. The kids work hard. There’s a lot of energy and enthusiasm,” Levin said. “I put a lot of emphasis on team culture, and we have a really solid one.”
“The leadership that we had in place was really great,” Levin exuded. “I really do put a lot of emphasis on the heart behind the jersey. I always go by the old cliché ‘no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.’ When you start to build that trust, my players believe that ‘this guy cares about me, more than just being a softball player…’ That’s how important I think the culture is; that’s when you start getting a lot more buy-in and a lot of belief in what we are doing as a coaching staff.”
Levin spent three full seasons and began a fourth as the field manager of the Akron Racers in the NPF, and it was there that he found what would later become his top assistant coach, former Georgia Tech infielder and longtime pro Ashley Thomas. “Ashley and I are pretty similar in our approach,” Levin said. “We both have more of a laid-back coaching style; not yellers and screamers or anything like that.”
First-year assistant coach Kat Banks, a former Virginia Tech player, provides a nice compliment to her new colleagues, according to Levin: “Kat is really enthusiastic and energetic. Not that we aren’t, but her style compliments Ashley’s and mine really well. Ashley and Kat both, from a staff standpoint, are incredibly smart in how they go about things and they are very good teachers of the game. That’s not something that you find very often in young coaches; usually, you spend a lot of time as a head coach teaching your assistants how to teach. Not having to do that and their savviness makes my job a heck of a lot easier.”
The Bruins won thirty-five games in 2017 under Levin’s leadership and reached the Ohio Valley conference tournament for the first time in program history. Levin sees a lot of hope for the future in his team’s opportunities in 2018 and beyond. “Just like all of the teams in our conference, the slate is clean and we are trying to win a conference championship,” Levin told us. “Our conference is tough. The [Ohio Valley Conference] is kind of a hidden gem that a lot of people don’t know about. There are so many coaches that know how to go about getting good players; our hope is that we can continue to work our way up the ladder and reach the conference championship.”
Levin and the Bruins kick off the 2018 season on February 16 against Omaha in Hammond, Louisiana.