Dan Hartleb eager to coach son for first time


Photo Courtesy of Fighting Illini Athletics

Illinois baseball Head Coach Dan Hartleb speaks with the umpires before a game.

By Rich Eberwein, Staff Writer

Zak Hartleb, Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb’s 20-year-old son, will be making his way onto the Illinois baseball team’s 2021 roster for his junior year. After spending two years playing baseball at John A. Logan College, the same institution his father attended, Zak will look to contribute to the Illini cause with his father at the helm.

“I know his style of coaching and I know what he expects out of his players,” said Zak about his father being his new head coach. “I expect him to treat me just like everybody else, so (there are) no worries. If it was something I didn’t feel comfortable with, I would have never considered coming and playing. It’s just fun to be around him and the team.”

After growing up and living in Champaign his whole life, Zak is no stranger to being around the Illinois baseball team and was even the team’s batboy when he was younger. Coach Hartleb said with everyone’s season cut short last spring, the Illini are aiming high and trying to win not only the Big Ten Division but also the NCAA Tournament.

Zak began playing baseball at a young age and will look to find some playing time at the corner infield spots after splitting his past two seasons at Logan between first and third base. After Zak completes his playing career, he plans on following in his father’s footsteps and take up a coaching role in the baseball world. If that does not come to fruition, Zak would still want to be involved in the sports realm in some capacity.

As for how Illinois has been operating this fall, Zak is confident he and his fellow transfers will be ready to contribute and take the Big Ten division by storm.

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“I think the University has done really well this fall, just with all the testing and keeping athletes and students safe,” said Zak about COVID-19 procedures. “I think it’s looking really positive for the spring, especially with football getting going. I think we’ll have a really good rest of the fall and start on time in the spring.”

Coach Hartleb is also confident he and Zak will be able to keep their home life and baseball lives separate while they both look to compete at a high level.

“I think he’s excited,” Coach Hartleb said about Zak being on the team. “I didn’t approach him about being here, he made it clear that it was a goal of his to play here and get a degree at the University. Zak’s very mature so he knew what he was getting into, and I think it will go smoothly.”


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