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Sports: New AD at New Cath, Baseball Coach at TMU; NKU Player Signs with Padres

New athletic director announced at Newport Central Catholic

Newport Central Catholic High School announced that Jeff Schulkens will serve as athletic director for the 2019-20 school year. He is stepping down as head baseball coach, a position he has held for twenty-four years.

“I want to thank the many players I have had the opportunity to coach over the years as well as the current and former assistant coaches who greatly contributed to the NCC baseball program," Schulkens said in an announcement. "I had the privilege of being affiliated with many wonderful people in the Northern Kentucky baseball world and beyond and for that I am thankful.  In my role as Athletic Director, I look forward to the opportunity to work with all the NCC coaches and provide continued support to our student athletes.”

Days earlier, New Cath announced the departure of its head boys basketball coach, Kenny Collopy, who is moving on to serve as principal of St. Cecilia in Independence. 

Schulkens, who graduated from NCC in 1985, is also the school's business manager. He was the first coach of the girls golf team, and also coached the boys golf program since 1990. 

As a baseball coach, Schulkens led the Thoroughbreds to four regional titles and four 9th Region "All A" titles. In 2013, his team won the All-A state championship.

Under Coach Schulken’s leadership, he led the Baseball Program to four Regional Titles - 1996, 2008, 2011, and 2012.  In 2008, 2011, 2013, and 2017, the NewCath team won the 9th Region All A Title.  In 2013, Newport Central Catholic captured the All A State Championship.

Schulkens was named Coach of the Year in 1998 and 2008, and was inducted into the Kentucky High School State Baseball Coaches Association in 2018. In March, he was inducted into the Northern Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame.

Saints have a new head baseball coach

Thomas More University announced a change in the athletics department last week.

Jeff Hetzer, who had been serving as head baseball coach, is set to become a full-time associate athletic director.

Assistant baseball coach Jeremy Martin will take over head coaching responsibilities.

Hetzer led the Saints for 19 seasons, and earned a 484-277-4 record. He is the winningest coach in Thomas More program history.

“I would like to thank Jeff for his nineteen years leading the Thomas More baseball program and creating a program that is nationally recognized,” said TMU president Dr. Joseph Chillo. “We look forward to him transitioning to the associate athletic director role full-time and working with our coaching staff to enhance the athletic experience for our student-athletes."

Hetzer had 104 players named all-conference, including 40 named first team all-conference. He had four Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC) Players of the Year as well as one PAC Pitcher of the Year. During his tenure, Hetzer had 39 Saints named all-region (ABCA), one Pitcher of the Year in the region (ABCA) and seven All-Americans (ABCA and Hetzer had two NCAA post-graduate scholarship recipients as well as 13 academic all-district players and six Google Cloud Academic All-Americans.  Hetzer was named the ABCA Conference Coach of the Year in 2008, 2011, and 2015 as well as the PAC Coach of the Year in 2011, 2014, 2016, and 2018.

Martin is making the move to head coach after serving the past 20 years as the assistant coach overseeing the pitching staff. 

In his 20 years as the pitching coach at Thomas More, the Saints have earned a .639 winning percentage.

“I’m excited that Coach Martin has accepted the promotion to head coach,” said  Chillo. “Coach Martin has been on staff for 20 years and there is no individual better prepared to continue the great tradition that Jeff has built, while the program transitions to NAIA and the Mid-South Conference.”

Martin was a four-year baseball letter winner at Lawrenceburg High School in Indiana, where he also played basketball and football. After high school, he attended the University of Cincinnati where he was a four-year starter for the Bearcats and was a co-captain his senior season. While at Cincinnati, Martin earned the Jerry Strom Award, an award for hustle and determination, during his senior year.

“I’m extremely honored and excited on being named the head baseball coach,” said Martin. “I want to thank President Chillo, Athletic Director Terry Connor and Coach Hetzer for having the faith in me to continue the success and growth of the baseball program as the University transitions to the NAIA and the Mid-South Conference. I’ve had the privilege of being the head assistant and pitching coach here at Thomas More the past 20 years, working closely with Hetzer to build this program and can’t wait to get started as the head coach.”

NKU baseball standout inks deal with San Diego Padres

Sam Williams, who recently completed his collegiate career at Northern Kentucky, has signed a free agent contract with the San Diego Padres. The left-handed pitcher has been assigned to the Arizona League for further evaluation prior to his rookie season.

“We’re really happy and proud for Sam,” said NKU head coach Todd Asalon. “It’s nice to see that his hard work and perseverance has paid off. We’re hoping for big things from him and wish him the best of luck in his first professional season.”

The Arizona League is a rookie-level Minor League Baseball organization that operates in and around Phoenix, and has been run by Major League Baseball. Players include both draft picks and free agents who have fewer than three years of Minor League experience. Games are played at the spring training complexes of the teams’ affiliate programs, with a 56-game regular season running from mid-June until the end of August. The Peoria Padres play in the West Division, along with the Arizona Rangers (Texas), Peoria Mariners (Seattle), and Surprise Royals (Kansas City).

Williams marks the 13th Norse to sign with an affiliate team since 2000, and he is the fourth in the Division I era. He is also the first Division I NKU pitcher to sign a professional contract. Williams recorded 93 strikeouts in his senior campaign, good for fifth on NKU’s all-time single-season list. He also made 15 starts on the season, making him the second-most utilized starting pitcher in a season in program history. The Massillon, Ohio, native had a successful Horizon League season, fanning 63 batters to rank third in the league while picking up five wins to tie for fourth in league standings. He capped off his final regular collegiate season by being named the Horizon League Pitcher of the Week.


-Staff report