After former head coach Dave Hanley stepped down in early May, the baseball team found his replacement just a month later in June when the athletic department hired former independent league player Jerod Edmondson.
A few days before classes started, however, it was announced that Nick Vennochi, an Emerson alum, would be taking over the head coaching position instead.
According to Patricia Nicol, the athletic director, Edmondson took an assistant coaching job at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, his alma mater. Edmondson was unavailable for comment.
“I’m sure that’s what he aspires to be—a Division I coach—so [him leaving] is not unusual in this profession,” Nicol said.
According to Nicol, though Edmondson was the unanimous choice by the search committee made up of players and department representatives, Vennochi also stood out as a candidate originally.
“He has obvious passion for the sport,” Nicol said. “His cover letter breathed with passion for Emerson and the sport of baseball. He resonated with me as someone who’s hungry and will do it the right way.”
With the team’s fall season around the corner, senior pitcher Jack Capotorto said that while the coaching switch was off-putting, the team couldn’t dwell on the change.
“I was pretty devastated,” the visual and media arts major said. “But I wanted to make sure the [search committee] found someone in time for the season, found someone in time to have a good fall season because I think we needed to get started quickly after that happened.”
Vennochi graduated from Emerson in 2011. During his senior season, he was the team’s MVP and captain, and was named to the all-conference third team.
“[Being the coach] is something I’ve been talking about since I’ve been playing on the team,” Vennochi said.
Vennochi said that Emerson enabled him to pursue two of his passions: baseball and journalism, his major.
“Emerson gives you such a different [athletic] experience because of the way the school is set up,” Vennochi said. “The hands on experiences were awesome.”
Nicol said Vennochi’s knowledge of Emerson’s athletic culture was a standout quality.
“He can come in and hit the ground running because he understands Emerson and the type of student-athlete who’s interested in the school,” Nicol said.
Since Vennochi graduated four years ago, he’s worked in sports information at both Wesleyan University and Wentworth Institute of Technology. He also coached the club team at Babson College, a New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference rival.
Vennochi will also assist with the department’s media relations, according to Nicol. The head coaching position is still part-time, but Nicol said the department plans to make the position full-time eventually.
“He’s going to be available to the athletes, which is very important for the students to know that they can go to the coach,” Nicol said. “Even though he’s part-time, I think he’s going to be around a great deal.”
The baseball team has suffered from its transition into the NEWMAC, earning just two conference wins the past two years. Capotorto said he’s confident Vennochi can help rebuild the program.
“He’s really positive, and we’ve had a lot of negativity going on,” Capotorto said. “He wants to see this team improve. He knows it’s not going to happen right away, but he’s optimistic that we can win games and ruin people’s seasons this year.”
Vennochi, who only played in the Lions’ former conference, said he’s up to the challenge.
“We’re going to focus on ourselves, which is the stuff we can control,” the coach said. “It’s going to take full dedication from the guys. We’re going to do everything we can to give them the best opportunity.”