Felician Baseball Alums Continue Passion For Game As Coaches

St. Mary-Rutherford baseball coach Dennis Hulse (l.) (Steve Hockstein, NJ Advance Media); Emerson baseball coach Chris Sommerhalter (Danielle Parhiskaran, NorthJersey.com)
St. Mary-Rutherford baseball coach Dennis Hulse (l.) (Steve Hockstein, NJ Advance Media); Emerson baseball coach Chris Sommerhalter (Danielle Parhiskaran, NorthJersey.com)

by Kristen Keller '18, Felician University Sports Information Student Assistant

Many former athletes feel the pull of the playing field long after their careers have ended. At  least four Felician University baseball alumni have decided that they have not had enough of the sport after participating in high school and college.

David Drew, Joe Jordan, Chris Sommerhalter, and Dennis Hulse have taken their passion from the field to the dugout. All four of these former players have become head coaches for high schools throughout New Jersey.

Their love for the sport has driven them to this point in their baseball careers. They all say they learned a great deal about the game during their time at Felician, knowledge they are now working to instill their own athletes.

Drew graduated from Felician in 2001 with a degree in history. He is the now the head coach at Point Pleasant Borough High School.

 "The relationships I built with my teammates and coaches throughout the years are something that I am always going to cherish," Drew said.  "I hope my athletes experience this, too."

When Jordan left Felician in 2002, he took with him more than just a degree in English and communications. A self-described "player that always wanted to learn," Jordan left Rutherford with the skills needed to transition into the coaching ranks. At West Milford High School, he attempts to convey the meaning of being a student-athlete.

"I try to teach the value of academics and how it needs to be a priority over everything else," Jordan says. "There is a reason why 'student' comes first in the term 'student-athlete.'"

Sommerhalter won a Group 1 state title with Emerson High in 2015. He likes to emphasize the importance of teamwork.

"I try to teach them that baseball is a team sport and you cannot succeed without your team," said Sommerhalter, a 2006 Felician graduate in special education and history. "It is always the team before yourself."

Taking all of his knowledge from college into his current coaching position, Hulse, a 2004 graduate with a degree in history, strives to help the St. Mary of Rutherford baseball team to learn and grow as players. His competitive drive is what pushed him to become a coach, but at the end of the day, Hulse hopes to teach his athletes to put their all into everything they do and enjoy every moment they get on the field.

"I want our players to give 100 percent all of the time and enjoy the moment," Hulse said. "Enjoy each moment, each practice, and each game because it goes by quickly."

Current Felician head Chris Langan had the opportunity to coach three out of these four players. He has nothing but positive things to say about them all, both as players and coaches.

"All four of these young men loved the sport and the game within," Langan said. "Baseball to some can be a chess match, and its outcome is affected by your every move."

These four coaches have all learned a lot from their time at Felician, but as they continue their coaching careers, they are learning the same lessons that Langan learned from his many years of coaching.

"I think now as I'm deeper into my coaching career, you actually realize the powerful position you are in and how you can shape and mold lives," Langan said. "It's a little more than wins and losses. Along with building a quality team, it's also about building young men."

In addition to the four Felician alumni serving as high school head coaches, Anthony Barone '01 is the coach of the Jamestown Jammers of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League, a summer league for college-eligible players.