ITHACA, N.Y. - After an extensive and highly competitive search for the next head coach of the Ithaca College baseball program, Associate Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreational Sports Susan Bassett '79 is pleased to announce that David Valesente has been selected as the fourth head coach in the program's storied 86-year history. Valesente has served for the past three years as the head baseball coach at Wells College in Aurora, N.Y..
"It is with equal parts pride, responsibility and excitement that I welcome David Valesente as the next head coach for Ithaca College baseball," said Bassett. "David did a terrific job during his time at Wells and quickly built that program to be competitive in its conference. It is no easy task to start a program from scratch, and David worked diligently to implement a culture on and off the field that we embody at Ithaca College. His passion and effectiveness in recruiting is a clear strength and will serve him well at IC."
Valesente, who joined Wells in 2015, was the first-ever head coach in program history. Over the past three seasons he guided the Express to an overall record of 46-63, which included an 18-22 season this past spring and a trip to the North Eastern Athletic Conference playoffs. He built the program from the ground up and was charged with overseeing all aspects of the program, which became the seventh men's varsity sport at Wells.
"I would like to thank Director of Athletics Susan Bassett and the search committee for selecting me as the next head baseball coach at Ithaca College," said Valesente. "I am extremely grateful and humbled to be given this opportunity of maintaining the storied success that this program has achieved throughout the years."
Valesente is no stranger to the Ithaca College baseball program, as he will succeed his father, hall of fame coach George Valesente '66, who announced his retirement after 41 seasons and two national championships at his alma mater. The 2019 Bombers posted a record of 31-9 to run the nation's longest winning streak at any level to 81 straight seasons. IC also won its 17th Empire 8 Conference title in 20 seasons to advance to NCAA Regional play. Ithaca will play the 2020 season as a member of the Liberty League.
"There's a tremendous amount of pride and loyalty within the Ithaca College baseball program, and I look forward to continuing and building on the great tradition," continued Valesente. "I have been very fortunate to have one of the best mentors in the game of baseball as my father and friend. I greatly admire and value what he and his staff have built and accomplished at Ithaca College over the last 41 years, and I can't thank him and my family enough for always supporting me. Go Bombers!"
Prior to his appointment at Wells, Valesente was an assistant coach at his alma mater, Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia, Pa., for two seasons under head coach and IC alumnus Fritz Hamburg '89. Valesente worked primarily with the catchers and oversaw the development of Brian O'Keefe, a seventh-round pick in the 2014 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. He also coached one season at Arcadia University before returning to St. Joe's.
The search for the next head coach of Ithaca College baseball commenced on June 19, shortly after Coach Valesente announced his retirement. The search committee was co-chaired by Bassett and four-year baseball letter winner Jason DeLand '98, and included Bill Guerrero, Vice President for Finance and Administration; Will Rothermel, Associate Director of Athletics; Jeff Long, Head Men's Lacrosse Coach; Christina Moylan, Associate Dean of the School of Health Sciences and Human Performance; and Mike O'Donovan '99, a member of the Ithaca College Athletic Hall of Fame who captained both the baseball and football teams.
"I want to thank the committee for their diligence in working through this important process to find the next leader of Ithaca baseball," said DeLand. "We all have great confidence in Coach Valesente to carry on the tradition of excellence for IC baseball, the athletics department and the IC community."
"David Valesente will embrace and honor the tradition of excellence of Bomber baseball and lead the program to the level of competitive success that Ithaca aspires to on the diamond," expressed Bassett. "At IC, we do things the right way, the Bomber way, and I am confident that while David will bring his own style to leading the baseball program, he will embody the values we hold dear: integrity, respect, sportsmanship and a high work ethic."
Valesente is a 2010 graduate of St. Joe's and was a four-year member of the baseball team. Valesente was selected as the Senior Male Athlete of the Year at the university, to go along with being named a three-time Most Outstanding Player of the team. He would also garner Atlantic-10 All-Rookie Team honors in 2007, and he finished his career with a .323 batting average and ranked fifth all-time with 216 hits for the Hawks.
Upon graduation, Valesente played one year professionally with the Alpine Cowboys in the Pecos Professional Baseball League, an independent league in Texas. He would go on to sign an undrafted free agent contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2012 and eventually played two seasons in the New York-Penn League with the State College Spikes and Jamestown Jammers.
A four-time scholar-athlete recipient, Valesente earned his bachelor's degree in business administration from Saint Joseph's and his master's degree in sports studies from the United States Sports Academy.
Valesente's official start date will be August 19.