Three longtime NJCAA Baseball Coaches mark the 2007 class of the National Junior College Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. The list includes the second-winningest coach in NJCAA history Jerald Blemker; the newly-elected President of the American Baseball Coaches Association Kent Shelley and the current NJCAA Coaches Association President Dave Grant.
Vincennes University (Vincennes , Ind.)
Jerald Blemker has been a part of NJCAA baseball since 1968, when he was named as the first-ever head baseball coach at Three Rivers Junior College in Poplar Bluff , Mo. Since that time he has amassed an overall coaching record of 1,188-879, making him the second-winningest coach in the NJCAA.
During his tenure at Three Rivers Blemker built a program that was below .500 in its first season of existence (1969) to a National Tournament qualifier five seasons later. His 1973 team finished fifth in the nation and Blemker was awarded the Central District Coach of the Year. With baseball funds cut at Three Rivers in 1975 he spent five years in private business before accepting the Vincennes University position in 1980, a position he would hold until 2006.
While at Vincennes Blemker led the team to the regional tournament 13 times and he has had 180 players transfer to 51 different four-year colleges, including his son Zak, who is currently playing at Southeast Missouri State University . Blemker has also sent 27 players to the minor leagues and former player Brad Pennington has pitched in the Majors for the Orioles, Reds, Angels, Red Sox and Devil Rays.
Blemker was the coach for the Olympic Festival in 1993 where his North team won the gold medal. Other honors include being a member of the Selection Committee for the 1984 Olympic Games and the 1984-1985 Pan American Games. He has been a member of the American Baseball Coaches Association, the NJCAA Baseball Coaches Association and the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association for many years.
Along with baseball, Blemker's other passion is mathematics. He has been a mathematics professor for as long as he has been a baseball coach. At Indiana State University he graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics and minor in physical education in 1966 and a Master of Science with the same emphasis in 1967.
Blemker is married to his wife of 38 years Nita Diane Leamon Blemker. The couple has four children: (Erik, Dr. Megan Lee, Gretchen and Zak) and one grandchild (Genevieve).
Johnson County Community College (Overland Park , Kan.)
In 19 seasons as head baseball coach at Johnson County Community College , Kent Shelley has become the winningest coach in JCCC history, compiling a 525-355-1 mark (.656). He has also led four teams to Eastern Sub-regional championships and two squads to NJCAA Region VI titles. During his tenure he has produced nine teams with 30+ wins and 18 teams with 20+ wins.
He has coached three NJCAA All-Americans, five USA Junior College All-Stars, nine All-Region VI performers, 65 All-East Jayhawk Conference recipients and 11 NJCAA Academic All-Americans, including eight in the last five years. To date, 19 of his former Cavalier players have been drafted or signed as free agents by the major leagues since he took over the reigns in 1987. Also, a total of 132 student-athletes under his direction have transferred to four-year institutions, 106 at the NCAA Division I or II level.
On the national baseball stage Shelley served as head coach for 1994 Team USA . In 1990, he was an assistant coach for the NJCAA All-Stars at the Friendship Games in Las Tunas, Cuba . He has also coached the Kansas Region VI Eastern Division All-Stars three times. Shelley was named the Louisville Slugger/Region VI coach of the year after his team captured the Region VI title in 1993.
Shelley's service to baseball also includes representing the NJCAA Baseball Coaches Association on the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) Executive Committee and serving on that organization's International Baseball Committee. He has also represented the NJCAA Baseball Coaches Association on the NCAA Division I baseball rules committee.
Most notably, in 2002 Shelley was selected to serve on the Executive Committee of the ABCA, becoming the second coach from the community college ranks to earn such an honor. Through his dedication to the ABCA and the sport of baseball he advanced in the organization and recently assumed role of President.
As a player Shelley was a collegiate standout catcher at Pratt Community College and the University of Kansas . At Pratt, he was co-captain and most valuable player in 1980 and at the University of Kansas , Shelley was elected co-captain in 1982. Following his senior year, he served as graduate assistant for the Jayhawks.
In addition to his coaching duties at JCCC, Shelley serves as a professor in the physical education department. He is also an associate scout for the Kansas City Royals.
Shelley earned his bachelor's degree in personnel administration at KU and completed his master's degree in student/personnel administration at Emporia State University .
Shelley is married to wife Marge. The couple has two daughters (Mandi and Madison).
Glendale Community College (Glendale , Ariz.)
Dave Grant has dedicated the past 27 years to the sport of two-year college baseball and to Glendale Community College . It is through this dedication he was recently elected to the position of President of the NJCAA Baseball Coaches Association after serving as the Secretary from 2004-2006. Along with his duties as NJCAA Coaches Association President, Grant serves as the NJCAA Region I Secretary.
Grant began his career at Glendale in 1979 and has amassed a career coaching record of 788-669 over his 27 seasons. He has been named the Region I and West District Coach of the Year three times and was voted into the Arizona Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2002. In 2004 he was chosen as the Head Coach for the NJCAA All-Star team that played against China in Millington , Tenn. , home of the NJCAA Division II National Championship tournament.
Outside of NJCAA Grant has served the sport of baseball in many areas. He was the Head Coach for the USA Baseball Junior National team in 2001 and was the assistant coach in 1997. In 1989 Grant was the Head Coach of the West Team at the US Olympic Festival and in 1995 he served as the US Olympic Trials coach in Homestead , Florida . Lastly, he has served as a Trials Coach for the selection of the USA National and Junior National teams several times.
Grant received his bachelor's degree from Loyola Marymount University in 1972. He is married to his wife of 31 years Lisa Wallace Grant. The couple has three children (Myles, Jeanette and Lee Anne) and one grandchild (Connor).