MOUNT VERNON — Nate Hunt came into the Mount Vernon Jacket baseball program three seasons ago fresh out of college as the head coach at the JV level, and in three short seasons he is going to be the head varsity coach this spring.
“I just wanted to coach and teach, and luckily, coach (Rob) Gross at the time had a head coaching position for the JV team,” Hunt said of his time coming into the program. “I was very fortunate to go into that role as a young 23-year old kid and quickly learned a lot.”
Hunt played baseball at Heath High School, spending a lot of time at third base. He got a roster spot on the baseball team at Muskingum University, where he moved further right in the formation to play shortstop. He suffered an injury his senior year and became an undergraduate assistant for the program, where he got some experience behind the scenes of a team, but the drive to become a coach started before his senior year, getting the itch in high school.
“That’s the big thing of where the coaching bug came from,” Hunt said. “Dave Klontz, who was my high school baseball coach, was a great guy and taught me everything that I know philosphy-wise in baseball.”
Hunt spent two years as the head coach at the JV level, before stepping into a new role as a varsity assistant last spring. Because of his coaching journey over the last three years, Hunt is familiar with this year’s roster.
“This senior class, they were basically my first group,” Hunt said. “I watched them in the JV level and I got them for their sophomore year. When they moved to the varsity level, I wanted to continued with this group. … Again, another position opened up for me to follow this senior class up the varsity level and now I get to be the head coach for their senior year. To me, it’s special because this is a great group.”
Along with a lot of the players being the same, Hunt said Gross helped groom him to become a head coach by slowly giving more responsibility to Hunt over the last couple of years. Hunt also credited Mount Vernon athletic director Justin Sanford for helping ease the transition to the top of the program.
The Jackets posted an 18-10 record a season ago, but fell to Reynoldsburg in the first round of the postseason. Coming off a winning season, Hunt expects more of the same out of this year’s Jackets.
“The common denominator with this group is that this group competes,” Hunt said. “Regardless of if it’s a Monday practice, or a league game against Lexington, these guys are competing.”
On and off the diamond, Hunt is proud to wear a Jacket ballcap.
“This is a baseball community that I wanted to, one, be a part of, and two, find a way to help make it better,” Hunt said.