GSU professor assists professional athletes

Layne Saliba

All too often, college students don’t give professors a chance. Yet, if they would they would find out that some of them have incredible experiences to share. One of those professors is Dr. Daniel Czech.


While growing up in Canton, Ohio, Dr. Czech found his passion for sports. He was a four-sport athlete in high school and went on to play baseball in college. After college, he was given the opportunity to play professionally and gladly accepted. However, after an injury shortened his career, he was given another chance to remain in the world of baseball.

Dr. Czech was offered a position in Major League Baseball International’s (MLBI) Envoy Program. This all came about after Dr. Czech’s college coach saw the potential in the young player and wanted to help him continue his passion.


As an envoy for MLBI, Dr. Czech’s responsibilities are that of an ambassador. He has coached international teams, played on teams internationally, led sports clinics for youth, helped professional athletes psychologically and has even taken teams from the United States to play internationally.

Simply put, Dr. Czech says, “We plant a seed for growth.”

Being part of this program has kept Dr. Czech very busy. He has visited a total of 54 different countries so far during his time as an envoy. He has played in Italy, Finland, Sweden and the Bahamas just to name a few. He has also coached all throughout Africa and Europe. But, Dr. Czech says that South Africa will always hold a special place in his heart.

South Africa

“South Africa by far was one of the best countries I’ve experienced because of the people and how they took me in,” Dr. Czech said. “It really helped me think differently. The American way is not the only way. I love the American way, that’s why I’m here. But it’s not the only way.”

South Africa was the first place he traveled to as an envoy for MLBI. But, as he continued to travel around the world, he experienced things that he would have never had the opportunity to experience if he had stayed in the United States. These experiences have impacted his life in ways that he finds hard to explain.

“I’ve grown so much from a diversity perspective and from a multi-cultural perspective,” Dr. Czech said. “It’s really developed me as a man and I’ve also been able to develop some of my faith. Some of the stuff I’ve done from a religious perspective. So I’ve been able to spread some of that which has been great.”

To the classroom

This diverse perspective is something that Dr. Czech wants to pass on to his own children. But, it is also something that he wants all of the students that come through his classes at Georgia Southern to understand. He teaches a first-year student course called Multicultural & Movies. This is a class that he chooses to teach because he is so passionate about sharing his experiences with students and encouraging them to go out and do the same.

“While I was there [South Africa], I just engulfed myself. And that’s one of the things that I tell all my students. To be able to get out of Southeast Georgia, go to another country and just engulf yourself and learn and say yes to all the opportunities that are there. So many memories have come from all those things that I’ve done,” Dr. Czech said.

People person

Traveling to this many countries has given Dr. Czech the opportunity to meet a number of people. Each experience has been unique but there are some things that Dr. Czech finds hard to forget.

“Sometimes you’d go to a country where they’d put you up in a hotel, and other times countries would have you stay with them.” Dr. Czech said. “And, I’m very glad to have stayed with families, but I remember one time waking up with chickens clucking on my face.”

Although traveling overseas has been an amazing experience in and of itself, his main purpose while in the countries is to focus on baseball. Dr. Czech stays five or six months at a time so he is able to develop friendships with the all of the people there including the players. These relationships are what Dr. Czech says make it all worth it because of the things he has learned personally.

“I don’t care who comes into my office,” Dr. Czech said. “It doesn’t mean that I can’t talk to someone who’s completely opposite of me. I’m open to that. And that’s what traveling has done. And I’m very, very thankful and blessed to have all those experiences.”

Love for the game

Even though he has able to meet all different types of people in the countries he has visited, Dr. Czech is invested in the players that he has had the chance to coach or teach. The relationships with the players have helped him realize all the things back in the United States that are sometimes taken for granted.

“There are some really great baseball stories of guys who just succeeded and loved the game and made me really appreciate being an American coach. Seeing how passionate they are for the game, that was kinda neat,” Dr. Czech said. “And letting people know that some of these athletes who transcended all these odds with the limited resources they had, I mean what can you do at Georgia Southern with all of the resources and support that you have?”

Back to the boro

But Dr. Czech doesn’t only coach and play baseball. He actually attended Georgia Southern and received his master’s in sports psychology. He wanted to further his education so he would be able to do more in the future so he decided to attend the University of Tennessee to get his doctorate in sports psychology as well.

After receiving his doctorate, he began teaching at Samford University but knew that he wanted to come back to Georgia Southern at some point. Even if that meant giving up a dream job in California.

“I always said to myself I wanted to come back to Georgia Southern; I never wanted to leave. I just liked Statesboro. People thought I was crazy because I had to choose a job between Statesboro and Santa Barbara, California. There was a school out there that offered me a dream job, but in my mind I said ’I love Statesboro’ and I wanted to go back. And it was a good decision.”

Sports psychology

The benefits of a sports psychology consultant sometimes go unnoticed, however. Sports aren’t all physical. There are mental aspects that Dr. Czech knows athletes need, so that’s where his job comes in.

“Sometimes coaches can’t see results so they don’t necessarily use a sports psychology consultant as opposed to a strength and conditioning specialist,” Dr. Czech said. “Sometimes it’s hard to see mental toughness increase, but it does. It can be learned and I’ve seen it happen at all levels. From little league to the professional ranks.”

Dr. Czech helps with a number of things. He can help athletes with arousal regulation, concentration and self-confidence, among many others.

“We teach psychological skills training to these athletes to help their mental game,” Dr. Czech said. “Because if you look at sports a certain percentage is mental and a certain percentage is physical. So that’s what we do. We work on the mental side.”

Working with a sports psychology consultant can be beneficial for any athlete at any age. But Dr. Czech has focused on Major League Baseball players and a number of players in the National Football League; specifically during the draft for prospective NFL players. He says that the draft can be a hectic process, and there are plenty of mental aspects that he can help with during that time. But one of his goals is to be more involved with the National Basketball Association.

“I’ve had a couple NBA clients, not as many of course as MLB and NFL. But that’s one area that I love. Not many people watch it, but I love that culture and it’s a lot of fun. So that would be one of my goals in the future is to tackle some more clients from the NBA if they’re available.”

But for Dr. Czech, it always comes back to Georgia Southern.

“I love working with the teams here. It’s great to get to know all of the different athletes and have them get interested in sports psychology. And then some want to go on and become sports psychology consultants after working with me,” Dr. Czech said. “Sometimes I’ve been at places and been with athletes that think they know it all and won’t work as hard as the athletes that I’ve had here at Georgia Southern.”