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      Heller key in Hawkeye baseball revival

      From the small town of Eldon to Big Ten baseball head coach--it's been quite the journey for first-year Hawkeye coach Rick Heller.

      "Well, it's been a lot of fun this year," said Heller. "You know there's a lot of stops along the way and 27 years as a head college coach we played a lot of the teams over the course of time anyway so it's great to be back in Iowa. It's great to be near family and friends. It's been a lot of fun this season."

      The Hawkeyes currently sit at 25-15, and Heller has played a key role in turning around a program that has finished above .500 twice in the past ten years.

      It all started in Wapello County where Heller played Legion baseball in Ottumwa and high school baseball at Cardinal.

      He would become a head coach at Upper Iowa University at the age of 23 making him the youngest college baseball head coach at the time.

      And now he sits at the helm of the Hawkeyes where another local product, Bloomfield native Calvin Matthews, is breathing new life into the program.

      "We always keep track of the guys in the area, and I definitely knew about Calvin and knew he was going to be special from a young age," said Heller. "Calvin came to my camp up at UNI when he was even younger than that."

      Heller gives all the credit to his players. During his first team meeting, Heller challenged them to change the culture of Iowa baseball.

      And he says they bought in from day one.

      "It's great," said 3rd Baseman Nick Day. "The atmosphere is great. He brings a positive attitude everyday. I love playing for him. It's great"

      Success aside, Heller said this season is one of the most fun he's had in 27 years of coaching.