Western Nevada College baseball coach D.J. Whittemore, whose Wildcats finished third at the Junior College World Series last spring, was named the 2009 Diamond Sports Regional Coach of the Year on Wednesday. The NJCAA Division I honor comes from the American Baseball Coaches Association, which will honor Whittemore at its annual Hall of Fame and Coach of the Year Banquet in January in Dallas.
"I believe DJ Whittemore may be the top baseball coach in (NJCAA) Division I," said WNC athletic director John Kinkella. "He has brought his team to the JUCO World Series two years out of the last three, and was the only coach in the World Series whose team was also an Academic All-American Team of the Year. By any standard, D.J. has earned this honor and more."
Whittemore's team set a number of WNC records for the program last season. The 2009 World Series showing was the highest the program has finished in its four-year history. Western set school records for most wins (48), winning percentage (.774) and number of players who signed with NCAA Division I colleges or universities (11, every sophomore).
"I am grateful to accept this award on behalf of my entire coaching staff, whom I believe to be some of the hardest-working coaches in the country," Whittemore said. "This award is extra special to me because of the great respect I have for the coaches around the West Coast."
Coach Whittemore paid tribute to the players who helped him be successful: "I would like to say thanks to the players on last year's team that sacrificed so much and played so brilliantly in making this award possible."
One of those players, shortstop Jay Skilton, called Whittemore, "one of the smartest guys I've ever met. He said if we did everything he told us, we'd be successful. Everything he told us turned out to be true."