Founder, Keeper of The Game Foundation
As one of the most successful college coaches in the history of college baseball, current professional baseball coach James Vilade shares his words and life experiences in sports. He delivers the keys to success through motivation and inspiration. Vilade takes the audience on a journey that inspires the crowd to achieve more than they ever thought possible individually and as a TEAM. His stories will make you laugh, cry, think and be inspired. Over the past 15 years Vilade has delivered his powerful motivational message to thousands. Vilade has served as a speaker for The Boys and Girls Club, University of Texas System, Texas GED program, Special Olympics, The Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association, high schools, universities and many other great organizations.
This year Vilade begins his first season as an assistant coach at NCAA Division I Oklahoma State University. He recently completed his 6th season working for the Texas Rangers AA affiliate the Frisco RoughRiders. During his tenure the RoughRiders qualified for the Texas League Playoffs four times and appeared in the Texas League Finals twice. The RoughRiders were named Minor League Baseball Team of the Year at the conclusion of the 2008 season, which is the highest team honor in Minor League Baseball. Vilade has worked with many major leaguers, including several current Rangers. Vilade also served as DFW area scout for the Rangers.
Prior to professional baseball, Vilade spent 12 years as a college coach, serving as head coach for 11 of those seasons. Vilade had the opportunity to start two NCAA baseball programs from the ground up: he was the head coach at the University of Dallas for the first four seasons of its reinstated baseball program before guiding the University of Texas at Tyler through the first seven years of its program. In between running these programs, Vilade was an assistant coach at Oral Roberts University, where he helped ORU capture the Mid-Continent Conference championship and a berth in the NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament.
In his 11 seasons as a head coach, Vilade compiled a career record of 348-117. His .748 career winning percentage makes him one of the winningest coaches in the history of NCAA baseball and the second-winningest coach in the history of NCAA baseball in Texas, where he trails only Cliff Gustafson, the former University of Texas coach. From 2000-2010, Vilade was the winningest NCAA baseball coach in the state of Texas. In 2007, Vilade coached the University of Texas at Tyler to a 37-1 record, which is the best single season record in the history of NCAA baseball in the Lone Star State and second-best nationwide. Vilade’s historic 2007 team is featured in the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.
A total of 112 of the college players Vilade coached were selected to All-Conference teams, and another 65 players were named to All-Academic teams. Vilade coached 16 All-Americans in his 12 year-career, and more than 60 players that Vilade coached have gone on to play professional baseball.
In addition to his coaching duties, Vilade served as the Director of Athletics at The University of Texas at Tyler for two years. Having been named Athletic Director at the age of 35, Vilade was one of the youngest ADs in the NCAA. In just two years he presided over substantial growth and success among UT Tyler’s 15 competitive teams, quickly becoming one of the most successful Athletic Directors in the history of the American Southwest Conference. In total, Vilade has more than 12 years of experience in university administration and development at the NCAA Division I and Division III levels.
Vilade played college baseball at Baylor University where he helped the Bears win the 1993 Southwest Conference Championship, defeating the University of Texas Longhorns while advancing to the NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament. A team captain and academic scholar-athlete, Vilade received his Bachelor’s Degree in Telecommunications from Baylor in 1995. Vilade also earned his Master’s Degree in Sports Management from the United States Sports Academy in 2003.
Outside the game of baseball, Vilade remains active in community affairs and humanitarian work. In 2014, Vilade founded Keeper of The Game Foundation, an organization that supports kids with special needs and disabilities in and around baseball. The organization also promotes servant leadership among players and coaches. Vilade is involved with organizations such as Special Olympics, The Miracle League, The Frisco RoughRider Foundation, The Children’s Advocacy Center and Mike Coolbaugh’s Diamond Dreams. Vilade has spent more than 20 years focusing on community service, during which time he has directed well over 200 community service events and humanitarian efforts reaching both local communities and foreign countries.
During his career, Vilade has been honored by the Texas State House of Representatives, the University of Texas System, the NCAA, and the Boys and Girls Club. During the George W. Bush Administration, Vilade received the United States Presidential Gold Service Award for his volunteer efforts, and, alongside former Florida State football coaching legend Bobby Bowden, Vilade was recently honored at the United States Sports Summit for his active role in community service.
For his success in both baseball and community service, Vilade was featured in the 2010 Baylor Alumni Magazine and was named the 2010 United States Sports Academy Alumnus of the Year. In that same year Vilade became the only person in the history of UT Tyler athletics to have his jersey retired – #12. On October 16, 2011, Vilade was inducted into the University of Dallas Athletics Hall of Fame.
Vilade and his wife Jennifer currently reside in Frisco, Texas with their sons Ryan (15) and Trent (7), and their daughter McKenzie (12).