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New IRSC Ballfields, Fieldhouse Honor Storied Coaches and Alum

New IRSC Ballfields, Fieldhouse Honor Storied Coaches and Alum

April 28, 2023 Robert Lane

FORT PIERCE—In celebration of the complete reimagining of the Indian River State College (IRSC) ballfields and new ballfield complex, the College honored two of its Pioneer coaching legends, IRSC Softball Head Coach Dale Atkinson, retired IRSC Baseball Coach Mike Easom, and alum and three-time MLB draft pick player Frank Russo.

photos by James Crocco, IRSC Staff Photographer

On Saturday, April 1, along with the IRSC baseball team, family members, fans, and the College community attending the game, IRSC recognized Easom’s career with the official naming of the baseball field Mike Easom Field.

Easom joined IRSC in 1975 as Head Baseball Coach before being named Athletic Director in 1990. As the IRSC baseball coach, Easom led the Pioneers to win four state and nine Southern Conference championships. Easom coached 125 players who went on to professional baseball careers—including nine who played in the major leagues.

Easom additionally coached the U.S. Olympic Baseball Team in 1992 and was Head Coach of the NJCAA All-Star Team—winning 4 out of 5 games in Japan in 2000. Before his retirement in 2006, Easom became the “winningest” coach in community college baseball history, leading the Pioneers to 1,013 victories.

Also recognized at the April 1 baseball game was IRSC alum Frank Russo. IRSC has named the new Frank Russo Fieldhouse in recognition of Russo and his wife, Jin-Marie, whose generous $100,000 philanthropic gift supported the IRSC Ballfield Expansion Project.

Russo, a successful entrepreneur, businessman, coach and decorated athlete, received his Associate in Arts Degree from Indian River Community College (IRCC) in 1982. He was the first in his extended family to attend college.

As a student-athlete at IRCC, Russo was a three-time draft pick by the Montreal Expos, New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates. He declined these offers, opting to finish his IRCC degree and follow his dream of being a Miami Hurricane student-athlete. Russo came to Indian River Community College from Long Island, New York, to play for Easom.

photos by James Crocco, IRSC Staff Photographer

On Saturday, April 15, the campus softball field was officially named the Dale Atkinson Field. Dale Atkinson has served as the Head Coach of the IRSC softball since 1998. Atkinson achieved his 1000th win as a Head Coach on February 28, 2020—wins achieved by the Indian River teams he coached.

Under Atkinson’s leadership, more than 200 players on the IRSC softball program have been named All-Southern Conference, 82 have been named FCSAA All-State, and 27 earned NJCAA All-America distinction. His teams won the FCSAA State Championships in 2002, 2004 and 2005. During his tenure, 18 Southern Conference Championships have been won, and the softball program has a streak of 22 consecutive berths in REGION VIII post-season play.

Like the students he has mentored, Atkinson places a high value in education. He earned his A.A. Degree in Business Administration from Indian River in 2004, his B.S. in Social Science from Florida Atlantic University in 2005 and his M.Ed. in Coaching and Athletic Administration from Concordia University of Irvine in 2013.

"We are overjoyed to have this opportunity to publicly honor Mike Easom, Dale Atkinson, and alumnus Frank Russo for their contributions to Indian River’s athletics program," states Scott Kimmelman, IRSC Athletics Director. "We are celebrating a lifetime of dedication and commitment to IRSC student-athletes along with the exemplary career accomplishments of these three men."

Coach Atkinson captured the sentiment of all those involved in this chapter of the Pioneers story best sharing, "This isn't about me," said Atkinson. "It is about the hundreds of kids I have been able to coach and hopefully make a positive difference in their lives. There have been a lot of very talented players and coaches that helped make this possible. I'm humbled, and I can’t wait until those players and coaches can be here with me in the fall to celebrate our accomplishments together.”

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