Weitzel details his vision for JCC baseball | Sports | oleantimesherald.com – Olean Times Herald

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Some lingering morning flurries or snow showers. Partly cloudy. High 16F. Winds NW at 5 to 10 mph..
Mostly clear. Low 2F. Winds light and variable.
Updated: February 5, 2022 @ 6:45 am
Jerico Weitzel

Jerico Weitzel
Jerico Weitzel knows something about baseball in the Southern Tier and surrounding areas.
A native of Salamanca and graduate of Ridgway High School, after playing in college at the University of Florida and Clarion University, he has spent the last five years coaching travel baseball locally with the Northeast Twins organization, working to develop teenage players at various levels, many of them into college commitments. Some of his former players are on the roster at Jamestown Community College, where a head coaching opportunity happened to open up earlier last month.
After a push by those who know Weitzel well, and a recruitment by JCC athletic director George Sisson, the Jayhawks found their new coach.
“I didn’t really pursue it at first … it was more of, I have some former players that are at JCC currently and they said, ‘Hey, will you please apply?’” Weitzel said of taking the JCC job. “I said I don’t know, I’ll think about it, and they said if we get the AD to call you and talk to you, I said I’ll hear him out, see what the opportunity is. That’s kind of how that started. It wasn’t anything that I was looking for, but I was fortunate it came to me and I thought it was a good fit and another level to pursue. That’s kind of how that all came to be.”
THE POSITION became available in early January when former coach Jordan Basile took the job at Fredonia State. Weitzel credits a “straightforward” Sisson for selling him on the opportunity with the Jayhawks.
“He wasn’t trying to hide anything and claim it was the best of the best, he said ‘here’s what it is, we think it can work,’” Weitzel said. “I think it’s a good setup, I’ve thought that for a long time with the beautiful fields and stadium, it’s awesome, taken care of by the city. The dorms on campus, nice facilities on campus. It’s a small student to teacher ratio so it’s a good experience for kids. Just the whole setup is somewhere you could develop a good team, where a good team will get together.
“I enjoy helping kids develop, with my travel ball team starting when they’re 12, 13 years old and they work their way up the program and you see them develop. Junior college is like that too, it’s a little bit different than a four-year school; yes, they’re developing but we get them, we’re trying to help them get better and help us win, but we’re also trying to help them develop and move on to a four-year school. So there’s always that development part — as a student, as a person, as a player, so I enjoy that.”
WEITZEL originally planned to pursue a college coaching career after his own career ended in 2012.
He comes from a baseball family: both his father, Jay, and uncle Brad spent decades as Major League Baseball scouts and his uncle had a successful 12-year run as an assistant coach for the Florida Gators. Jay helped found the Northeast Twins before handing off the program to his son in recent years.
The younger Weitzel first worked with the Olean Oilers of the NYCBL as an assistant coach, then as an aide at Gulf Coast Community College in Panama City, Fla., for two seasons. But starting a family prompted him to move back north.
“I was there (Panama City) for two years and we had our oldest child, my daughter, and it just got a little bit hard with a young family, assistant coach’s salary, being away from family,” Weitzel said. “So we moved back home and did the Northeast Twins for the past five years, but I always wanted to do the college coaching and then this opportunity came up.”
Coaching at JCC won’t prevent Weitzel from continuing his travel coaching over the summer. Weitzel’s local ties and travel coaching experience could make him particularly well-equipped to find good players not far from JCC’s campus.
“Some of the kids that are going to other junior colleges or other schools in the area, (we can) start getting them to come to us,” Weitzel said. “There’s good baseball in this area. I’m very prideful of being from Salamanca. I moved around a little bit and I’ve been all over the country playing sports, but I take a lot of pride in being from Western New York, and I think the baseball in this area is underrated.
“I’ve had success sending kids to schools like Niagara Community College and Finger Lakes Community College and hopefully from now on they start coming to play for me in Jamestown. Those are good programs that our players have had success at and I think (in) this area, you get down into Northwestern Pennsylvania and up to Buffalo and Rochester, you can recruit a lot of kids locally and be successful with that.”
JUST HOW far can JCC go under Weitzel? He pointed to NCCC under coach Matt Clingersmith.
“We talked the other day; he said when he took over he had 10 kids and they had no uniforms,” Weitzel said. “Now this year they’re the No. 1 ranked team in the country. I don’t see any reason, there’s no limitations at Jamestown, that prevent us from doing the same thing. Now that takes a lot of hard work, a lot of dedication from the coaches, the administration, the school and the players. It doesn’t just happen because we want it to happen. But it’s a very good example that shows that it can be done, and that’s kind of my goal and my vision. I don’t see any reason why, if we work hard and we develop and get the right kids in our program, that we can’t be on the same level that they are competing for national titles.”
(Salamanca Press sports editor and Times Herald sports writer Sam Wilson may be contacted at [email protected])
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