The Student News Site of Ithaca College

Ithaca Week

Ithaca Week

Ithaca Week

New Ithaca College Baseball Coach Follows in Father’s Footsteps

Coach Valesente talking to one of his players (Photo by James Murphy/Ithaca Week)

In mid-June, the Ithaca College athletic department was tasked with finding a new head coach for its baseball team. George Valesente, Ithaca College class of 1966, had just retired after a 41-year career that included two national championships and 81 straight winning seasons, a streak that still stands.

Those in charge of finding a new coach didn’t have to look too far for his replacement. In fact, he was right on the Valesente family tree.

Exactly two months after the search began, Ithaca College hired David Valesente, George’s son, as its new head coach. David had previously been the head coach at Wells College, leading the team to a 46–63 record in his four years at the helm and a trip to the Northeastern Athletic Conference playoffs in 2019.

Coach Valesente works to improve a hitter’s swing. Valesente spent time as an outfielder, catcher and designated hitter in two years of professional baseball. (Photo by James Murphy/Ithaca Week)

The elder Valesente’s style has rubbed off on David, not only when it comes to his love for the game of baseball, but also how he goes about activities both on and off the diamond.

“His expectations and the way he went about his business on a daily basis really had an effect and an impact on me and his coaching style and the way he went about his daily life at home and with the athletes,” David Valesente said. “I think he had a big influence on the way that I carried myself.”

Those life skills aren’t the only thing that George left for his son. His legacy includes a winning culture that still exists on the team — one that produced a 31–9 record and an appearance in the NCAA Regional in 2019. Now it’s David’s job to make his own mark.

“He’s all about us, all about the team, and he wants to make sure we’re striving to do our best and succeed,” said Buzz Shirley, a senior first baseman and outfielder for the team. “We’ve had a winning culture, so I think he’s gonna absolutely keep that tradition alive.”

Coach Valesente working to improve a pitcher’s motion towards home plate. (Photo by James Murphy/ Ithaca Week)

David’s age — he’s in his early 30’s — is already having a positive impact on players, such as junior outfielder Garrett Callaghan.

“He’s really young, so he’s able to relate with us a lot more than other coaches are able to,” Callaghan said. “It’s really nice to have a guy that could just talk to you about any issues in college or any problems on the field in any way.”

Callaghan also said he plans to pursue professional baseball once he’s graduated. Valesente’s experience playing for professional leagues, as well as a minor league affiliate, makes him a valuable mentor for Callaghan.

“He’s just giving me any advice he has right now and trying to get me into a really good summer league to compete with some of the better players in Division I baseball,” Callaghan said.

David encourages his players to have fun in their time at Ithaca College both as athletes and as students. He also said that he wants them to stay connected with their teammates and coaches even after they’ve played their final games at Freeman Field.

“I want to develop a strong relationship with them,” Valesente said. “I want to stay connected with them after college and be there for them when they need me both right now and down the road.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to Ithaca Week

Your donation will support the student journalists of Ithaca College. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to Ithaca Week

Comments (0)

All Ithaca Week Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *