Mark Kornacki has spent a lot of time coaching in Little League dugouts the past four years, and that dedication has gone a long way toward helping his teams succeed.
Mark has been a head coach in North Haven’s Little League baseball program since 2014. He guided the Indians’ 11-U team to the title in the East Shore Travel League Majors Division this spring, after which they won the District 4 championship during the recent summer season. Additionally, Mark coached the Washington Memorial Funeral Home rec team in the spring and is a member of the North Haven Little League board.
Looking back at the great runs his teams put together this year, Mark gets emotional thinking about what the kids achieved. Even though he was ultra-competitive in his playing days as a third baseman at Hamden High School and Gateway Community College, Mark’s primary focus as a coach is to keep the kids positive, because he knows success will stem from that.
“I’m so happy and proud for them. I don’t need any credit for that. It’s not about me; it’s about them. I’m proud of them and their accomplishments. It’s a special group of kids that I’ve been able to work with. I just sit back and take it all in,” says Mark, who graduated from Southern Connecticut State University. “Sometimes, I’ll even get a little emotional because of how far they go and what they accomplish and to see them run around the field with a championship banner and see parents clapping and to see kids with smiles on their faces. It’s such an incredible feeling. It’s indescribable.”
Mark began his coaching career as an assistant in 2013, but after just one year, he felt ready to take the reins as a head coach.
“In 2013, I was an assistant coach in the Scooter’s Division. The next year, I just sort of dove into head coaching,” says Mark. “I decided to become a head coach, because I felt like I had good experience playing the game, and I just love the game. I just thought it was time the following year after I spent the time as an assistant. I wanted to take on that leadership role.”
It’s hard to argue with the results as Mark’s 10-U team was victorious in the non-district Sea Breeze Tournament in both 2014 and 2015. Brian Cullen has been working alongside Mark as an assistant coach for the past three seasons, and he marvels at his Mark’s ability to put kids in the right places to maximize their talents.
“He is one of the best coaches I’ve ever coached with,” says Cullen. “He’s phenomenal with the kids, and gives them great instruction. He puts them in situations to succeed. He has an incredible gut instinct and when to make calls on the field like no coach I’ve ever seen.”
Mark’s uncanny decision-making skills are especially impressive considering that he had to make those decisions for multiple teams in different leagues during the same spring season. The experience was draining at times, but Mark’s love for baseball is limitless, and so it was worth all the energy that he put in.
“It’s not easy. It’s difficult. It’s a lot of work, but at the end of the day, it’s well worth it. It’s something I love to do,” he says. “It’s a little tiring going from one practice to the next. It tires you out, but it’s well worth it.”
Mark adds that one of his favorite parts about coaching is that he gets to spend time with his son Tyler on the diamond, while they both do something they love.
“What’s nice about being a coach is I get to spend a little more time with him,” says Mark. “I want to give him a lot of credit. If I give him advice and tell him to go to a certain position, he goes there without question.”
Mark thanks his wife Kristin for keeping everything together, his daughter Sophie for cheering at all the games, his assistant coaches Cullen, Dennis Ryan, and Chris Cargan for their continued support; and Jason Mazzaro for getting him involved on the North Haven Little League board. Mark also cherishes the influence of a coaching inspiration and one of his best friends, Kevin Basmadjian, who passed away last year.
“We coached together that first year in 2013. He was the head coach that year, and he was always a motivation to me,” Mark says. “We went different ways after that year, but we stayed great friends, and we talked about baseball for hours on end. We really hit it off because of our passion for the game. I definitely miss talking baseball with him.”