Eastern Mennonite has announced the hiring of Ben Spotts as head baseball coach. The Royals didn't have to look too far as Spotts has spent the past 14 years as assistant baseball coach at Bridgewater College, just down the Route 42 corridor.
He will become the tenth head baseball coach at EMU when he begins July 1, replacing interim head coach Jason Stuhlmiller who kept the program moving forward during the past year. The Royals finished 11-27 and led the ODAC in team batting average in 2012.
Eastern Mennonite Director of Athletics Dave King said that Spotts quickly rose to the top of the list from the approximately 120 applicants for the position and is the right person to build the baseball program at EMU.
"We are very fortunate to find a coach with Ben's experience, knowledge and exposure right in our backyard," said King. "Having spent 18 years playing for, learning from and coaching with one of the best collegiate baseball coaches in the state and region in Curt Kendall (who surpassed the 600-win mark this year), Ben is definitely prepared to be a head coach. And it doesn't hurt to grow up in a baseball family with his father Vic being a very successful, long-time coach at nearby Fort Defiance High School."
Spotts also believes that he is ready for the head coaching role.
"The opportunity to be a head college coach in an area that I have grown up in is exciting for me and my family," he said. "I believe the knowledge and relationships I have developed over time locally and regionally will allow for success in recruiting student-athletes to EMU. I am eager to get on the road and begin that process. I want to thank Bridgewater College and Curt Kendall for allowing me the opportunity to begin and establish my coaching career over the past 14 years."
During his time at Bridgewater as an assistant coach, the Eagles have won five ODAC championships and made six regional appearances in the NCAA Tournament. Spotts has been the recruiting coordinator for and has recruited 17 All-ODAC First Team players and three ODAC Rookie of the Year award winners. In addition to recruiting duties, he has served in numerous on-the-field and off-the-field roles and ran the Baseball-Academic-Tracking (BAT) program, overseeing the academic success of baseball players. Since 2006, Spotts has been the Compliance Coordinator for the Bridgewater athletic department, and has also served the college as Director of Residence Life and Judicial Affairs and Resident Director. Spotts graduated from Bridgewater College with a degree in History and Political Science and has a master's degree in Kinesiology/Emphasis in Athletic Administration and Coaching from James Madison University.
King noted the breadth and depth of the experiences Spotts has had at Bridgewater as a major factor that stood out to the search committee.
"The development of a successful program on and off the field begins with the leadership of the head coach," explained King. "Ben has worked with nearly every aspect of a baseball program and his experiences with the academic and student life areas of the college make him a great fit at EMU as we strive to integrate athletics with the whole college experience in ways that help us meet our mission of 'impacting lives through athletics'. I expect great things from Ben and the baseball program."
Vice President for Student Life Ken L. Nafziger, who oversees EMU's athletic department, also pointed to Spotts' experience in connecting his players' athletic and academic efforts.
"From a Student Life perspective, Ben brings a strong commitment to operating as an educator-practitioner as he coaches baseball players to both know and play the game well," said Nafziger. "Ben has extensive experience holding a high academic standard for his baseball players and meeting with them weekly to review their academic progress that helps them be successful on both the baseball field and in the classroom."
Spotts understands what it takes to be a head coach and develop a successful program.
"I am looking forward to meeting the current and incoming players on the roster to begin the process of establishing a successful program," the new coach said. "The foundation of our success will be built on a commitment to hard work and a teaching of the fundamentals of the game. I am excited to play a role in the success of our players in the classroom and in the campus community. The opportunity to influence players in a positive way as they prepare to lead successful and rewarding lives is one I value greatly."
King noted that this is a pivotal period for the baseball program and a key time to bring on a new coach who is excited and ready to build a program.
"The recent growth of the baseball roster and increased interest from the local community has prompted us to examine all aspects of developing a successful program," King said. "Two seasons ago a new scoreboard was installed and currently drawings are being completed for new dugouts, a press box, a netting backstop system and permanent seating behind home plate. An infield tarp will also be purchased for the coming year. Ben's leadership on and off the field will greatly help us to achieve our goals for the baseball program."
Spotts realizes that he is moving from a well-established, perennial powerhouse program to one that is ready to be built on the foundation established by alumni, many of whom still live in the local area.
"I want to thank EMU for allowing me the opportunity to lead the baseball program," said Spotts. "I am excited by the direction and vision the administration has for the program and am looking forward to working with them as we strive to reach our goals."
Ben and his wife, Angie, reside in Verona with their three children, Landon, Brady and Allie.