The athletic department lost two esteemed coaches as the women’s squash coach Jane Parker and men’s baseball coach Jon Martin stepped down from their Vassar posts in August to accept job offers elsewhere. Both Coach Parker and Coach Martin had significant impacts on the athletics program and led their teams to many impressive accomplishments during their tenures. With their departures, the athletics department has a challenging task of filling such large shoes.
After 13 years on the baseball squad, Coach Jon Martin announced his resignation to accept the head coach position at Bates College. Moving from the Liberty League to NESCAC, Martin will take the reins of Bates’s baseball team, which had an overall record of 14-21 and a conference record of 4-8 last season.
Although Martin will pack his bags for Lewiston, MN, his impact will continue to resound with Vassar’s baseball program. Senior outfielder and pitcher Denis Shanagher shared, “I’ll miss his energy and the positive attitude he brought to the field every day. He certainly was the most fun coach I have ever played for and you could tell he made everyone enjoy playing for him.”
During his lengthy Vassar career, Martin served as assistant coach for two years and later as head coach for 11 years from 2005 to 2016. Along the way, Coach Martin collected a total of 127 wins to give him the title of most wins amongst all Vassar coaches.
Martin also led the squad to program-first achievements and pushed many players to earn individual accolades. Under his wing, the baseball team had its first Liberty League playoff appearances in 2013 and 2014. The spring season of 2014 also brought along new records, as the team set new program bests for most conference wins at 14 and most total victories tallied at 19.
In terms of individuals, Martin helped over 30 athletes earn league mentions, including two All-League Honors. Graduate Brett Zaziski was tagged Liberty League Player of the Year while senior Adam Erkis claimed the League Pitcher of the Year in 2014.
Ending on a high note at Vassar, Martin led his squad to 18 total victories, including 12 conference wins during his last season. Both of these finished rank second in program history.
With such a large influence leaving the Burgundy and Gray, the baseball team is sad to see Martin go but looks forward to a fresh start. For the fall season, assistant coach Blayne Fuke stepped up to the plate and is currently leading the baseball squad. Coach Fuke has served on the Brewer team for four years, starting as a volunteer assistant coach in 2011 and 2012 and moving up to full-time assistant in 2014. While the athletic department searches for a new head coach, Coach Fuke will continue at the reins.
“The team has been able to rally around Coach Fuke as the interim coach. He has done an excellent job transitioning the team through this process,” explained Shanagher. “That, coupled with upperclassman who have done well to step up and guide the younger players in the program, has made the off-season go by as smooth as possible without a head coach.”
Nevertheless, the team is excited to be assigned a new coach. All of the men have high hopes for the new coach and what he will bring to their team as well as the athletics program.
Shanagher commented, “The team hopes that the new coach will bring a vision and plan for the Vassar baseball program that will make contending for Liberty League Championships and NCAA Tournament runs a reality.”
The baseball team is not alone, as the men and women’s squash teams are also transitioning into a new season without a head coach.
Jane Parker left her position as the head coach of both the men and women’s squash teams after 16 years. Moving forward, Parker will take on the position of director of SquashSmarts in Philadelphia, PA. Parker illustrated, “SquashSports is dedicated to improving the lives of underserved youth from Philadelphia public schools by providing intensive, long-term academic tutoring and squash instruction, while imparting high standards of personal integrity, health and fitness and service to the community.”
While Parker will move on to help those in need in Philadelphia, she is leaving behind a cherished legacy and two teams that will miss her attitude and positive coaching methods.
“I just started playing on the team last year and she was so helpful and supportive to not only new members like myself, but to everyone,” said sophomore Kelly Rissman. “She made sure everyone felt comfortable on court by integrating the men’s and women’s teams as well as players of different skill levels in practices. Her love of the game was contagious.”
In addition to gaining the love of her players, Parker accumulated numerous wins and reached impressive feats during her career, including a total of 223 for both the men and women’s sides.
On the women’s side, Parker also led the Brewers to three Liberty League Championships as well as three Seven Sister Championships and three Howe Cup Championships. All the while, Parker led the men’s squad to two New York State Championships.
Similar to Martin, Parker pushed her athletes to such a skill level that Liberty League recognition soon followed for many. During her career 34 Brewers earned All-League honors for their athletic prowess. With 16 years under her belt, Parker served for the longest period in Vassar squash history, which started in 1972. Both of her teams will miss her compassion and expertise, but look forward to what the future holds with their new coach.
Rissman shared, “We hope the new coach will continue to develop the welcoming environment that Jane has created, and that the men’s and women’s teams will be able to work together like they have in years past. Overall, we are looking forward to another great season and are excited to see what the new coach will bring to the court.”
With high hopes from the student-athletes, the athletics department has a crucial task ahead of bringing in talented new coaches to the programs. The department has accumulated multiple coaches to form a committee to find potential hires. Among these coaches is head coach of the women’s lacrosse team Judy Finerghty. On Oct. 4 the department announced the hiring of David Ames as interim squash coach for this year’s season.
Finerghty remarked, “In regards to the coach search, the committee has had a terrific pool of applicants, and we have worked hard and have done our due diligence of finding quality people to bring on board. We have a variety of qualified applicants and are excited to start interviews within the next couple weeks.”
Athletes and coaches alike are optimistic to add new coaches to the Brewer program while wishing Coach Martin and Coach Parker the best with their endeavors.