Pottsgrove baseball didn’t extend its search too far beyond its own confinements this past offseason.
Jamie Nash, who spent last season as a varsity assistant and the JV head coach with the program, was hired as head coach of the varsity team earlier this month. He follows a one-year stint by Steve Burdan, which came on the heels of a four-year run by Rich Ashburn, Jr.
“We’re definitely looking forward to this season,” Nash, a Saint Pius X and Kutztown University alum, said. “We want to bring a new culture to Pottsgrove baseball. We put a good base in with the kids last season, and we’re hoping that can help bring this program up.”
Nash takes over a Pottsgrove program that hasn’t spelled all that much success in recent memory. The Falcons garnered only one win last season and just a pair of wins in each of the previous two seasons. That said, he is confident that the team will have plenty to look forward to this year.
“We only lost two starting seniors from last year’s team,” he said, “that gives us a lot of hope. We’ve got a lot of young arms who have pitched at the varsity level. It’s a matter of who steps up and does well on the mound. We’ll build from there.”
With the return of the brunt of its starting lineup, Nash has named team captains in hopes that it can bridge the gap between players and coaches this upcoming season. It’s a move his staff hopes will help his players to connect both on and off the field.
“This year we named three captains,” he said. “I feel like I am very approachable and the kids feel comfortable talking with me. I want them voicing things they like and dislike. That will go a lone way.
“A lot of guys have been committed throughout the offseason, which is great to see,” he added. “I don’t think Adam Girafalco has missed a single offseason workout. That shows me a lot.”
In addition to Girafalco, a junior, Nash hopes that seniors Garrett Bleakley, Mike Gantert and Dom Johnson will provide senior leadership this season.
Now in his first official high school coaching position, Nash is no stranger to calling the shots.
While at Kutztown University, he co-founded and served as vice president of the Kutztown Aces club team from 2009-2013. The team faced several other college club teams from across the state and into New Jersey and Delaware. He also founded and managed the Pottstown Spartans Adult League team from 2009-2013, which competes in the Perkiomen Twilight League.
Though he embraced all of that time coaching, he admits, there was always something missing. That was the ability to teach the game, rather than just write the lineup card each night.
“Most of my coaching was all adults or college kids,” said Nash. “During that stage, nobody really expects to learn anything — they just expect to go out and play. Now it’s nice to have a group of kids who are willing to learn, willing to listen, willing to work hard.”
While with Pottsgrove, he hopes to channel the same environment that former St. Pius X head coach Jon Kalejta created during his play career with the Winged Lions. Competing in a players’ environment, SPX gave Boyertown its only loss of the season in 2009 and eventually went to the District 1-AA semifinals game before falling to New Hope-Solebury. The team also advanced to the District 1-AA title game during Nash’s junior season in 2008.
“He created a loose environment that we thrived under,” Nash recalled of his time at Pius with Kalejta. “We learned the game and kept it loose, both during practice and before our games. I think a similar approach can benefit our team — having fun, enjoying the game and not worrying about making mistakes.”
Nash will be joined by varsity assistant and pitching coach Jamus Peterman. Dan Kratz will serve as the junior varsity assistant head coach.
Each having spent time on the diamond as both a player and a coach, Nash says his staff is exactly what he would have hoped for entering his first season.
“I’m lucky to have these guys with me,” said Nash. “They’ve been around baseball for a long time, and understand what it’s like to be a player. I think we’ve got a lot of good baseball to look forward to here at Pottsgrove.”