YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Eastern Gateway Community College is making school history by having its first ever sports team.
The school’s first head coach, Jason Stanford, will be in charge of the new baseball team, called the Eastern Gateway Gators.
Stanford has pitched for the Cleveland Indians, was a pitching coach at Youngstown State University and was a coach at Howland High School. He currently runs travel teams.
“I’m very excited, very humbled by the experience right now. John Zizzo, the athletic director, gave me this opportunity. I’m looking forward to it but to be the first of anything, I’m very excited about that,” he said.
Stanford was excited his old team, the Indians, made it to the World Series.
“I’ve been a part of that organization for 16 years and to see what they did this year, especially being up 3-1, everybody says unfortunately when you’re up 3-1 you’re supposed to win it. But you went up against the best team in the Chicago Cubs,” he said.
As head coach of the Eastern Gateway Gators, Stanford has the unique opportunity of building an entire new program from scratch.
“I have a buddy that just developed a Division III program in Philadelphia called Cabrini. I’ve talked with him a lot, I’ve leaned on him a lot about just going about what you need to do and I am very excited about building from scratch. I have some coaching experience behind me … So I’ve been able to do a lot of stuff. But to see what we’re going to be able to grow here in the community, I’m very excited about,” he said.
The new baseball program will hold a showcase for prospective players Sunday from 8 a.m. until noon at YSU’s Watson and Tressel Training Site.
“Currently, right now, we’re recruiting. We’re going out and getting players from the area, nationally and just trying to compete right away. We start in the fall of ’17. So it’s been a lot of fun so far. We have our first prospect showcase coming up this coming Sunday, right after Thanksgiving, so that will be interesting to see how many kids attend that, and then from there I’ll be out on the streets trying to make sure we have some future Gators,” Stanford said.
The team will play at the junior college level, a two-year program.
“Anybody like Tri-C [Cuyahoga Community College], Lakeland Community College, St. Clair [County Community College] and then Mercyhurst North East is also in the conference now and we’ll be joining that conference in the spring of ’18,” Stanford said.