Whittemore hired by WNCC | NevadaAppeal.com

Whittemore hired by WNCC

D.J. Whittemore received the birthday present he most wanted three days early – a coaching position on the college level.

Whittemore became Western Nevada Community College’s first baseball coach when school president Carol Lucy approved the hiring on Thursday. The school’s committee charged with the development of athletics at WNCC unanimously voted for Whittemore after interviewing him and three other finalists on Wednesday.

The 1993 Wooster High graduate will celebrate his 30th birthday on Sunday. “It was the best birthday present I ever got,” Whittemore said. “I got my dream job basically.”

There were more than 60 applicants for the job. The other finalists were Justus Scott from Kentucky, Rick Secrist from Ontario, Calif., and Joshua Blunt from the Santa Cruz area.

WNCC will begin playing baseball in the spring 2006 at Governor’s Field. WNCC vice president Helaine Jesse, who has spearheaded the athletic committee, said the school is already looking at plans to make enhancements to the facility.

The school also plans to begin play in women’s soccer in the fall 2005 at Edmonds Park. Jesse said it’s hoped that a coach will be hired next month.

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Whittemore was a pitcher, first baseman and outfielder at Wooster and made the all-league first team as a utility man as a senior. Before his senior year, he was also chosen to be a starting pitcher in the Kelly Showcase which featured the top players from Southern and Northern Nevada.

He accepted an athletic and academic scholarship to play at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and earned all-conference honors at Santa Barbara Community College where he also made the state all-star game. Whittemore graduated from Oregon State.

Whittemore served as an undergraduate assistant coach at then NAIA Western Oregon, now a Division II school. He went on to be the pitching coach at Central Catholic High in Portland, Ore. before serving as assistant under his coach Ron Malcomb at Wooster from 2001-2003. Wooster won the state title in 2002.

This past season he was the pitching coach at Feather River, coaching three pitchers that signed with Division I schools: Joel Fountain and Corey Madden (St. Mary’s) and Anton Maxwell (Oregon State). He also coached freshman Marco Grifantini, who is virtually assured to sign with a Division I school, and Carson High graduate Tim Priess, who signed with NAIA York in Nebraska.

Whittemore credited Wooster coaches Malcomb and Nic Kuster and Feather River head coach Reed Peters for the chance to coach at WNCC and also thanked the school’s athletic committee for giving him the chance.

“First and foremost I want them to graduate,” said Whittemore about his players at WNCC. “Secondly to have an opportunity to play baseball at a four-year school.”

Northern Nevada’s talent pool is deep, Whittemore said. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for all the high school coaches in Northern Nevada,” he said.

“There’s going to be plenty of players to fill our program, that’s for sure. Northern Nevada has become a hotbed of recruiting for Division I and pro scouts.”

Whittemore said he told the committee, “I wasn’t really worred about recruiting.” He also said he’ll benefit from the tradition that the retired Ron McNutt built at Carson High and with the Carson Capitols. “That’s going to be a big-time advantage when it comes to recruiting,” he said.

He also believes it’s realistic for WNCC to have the same kind of success as quickly as Community College of Southern Nevada did. CCSN won a national title in its third year.

“I felt like if they didn’t win the national championship in three years it would be a disappointment,” Whittemore said. “My goal will be to compete for the league championship my first year.”

What league WNCC will be in is still undetermined. WNCC is looking at joining California’s Bay Valley Conference and Jesse said the hiring of Whittemore should help. “D.J. will be able to get us into a conference,” Jesse said.

Another possibility is the Scenic West Conference, which includes CCSN. “We will if we’re not anywhere else,” said Jesse about possibly joining the Scenic West. “We’ll look at that if we have to.”

Travel would be a problem in the Scenic West, which also has schools in Idaho and Utah.

Jesse said Whittemore’s area ties were a major reason why he was hired. “A lot of connections in Nevada,” she said. “He’s energetic. Great enthusiasm.

“This is a dream job for him. I’m just thrilled we got someone. He’s just such a go-getter. It’s nice to see this Nevadan with local roots. He’s got a lot of local support.”

The committee was impressed by his interview, Jesse said, in which he covered his coaching philosophy and his academic, discipline and recruiting policies. “First and foremost we want to be good citizens,” Whittemore said.

“He was just excellent in his interview,” Jess said. “He had really done his homework. He really put a good package together. It was really impressive.

“He’s a skilled baseball player himself. He really knows the game. He’ll do a good job.”