Friday, February 24, 2017
My Account  | Login
Nashua-BoireFieldAirport;59.0;;2017-02-24 21:05:57

ERROR: Video is no longer available.

  • Staff Photo by GRANT MORRIS

    Coach Justin Mongue unpacks t-shirst jerseys for the players of the Nashua Community College club baseball team, Wednesday afternoon in the school's cafeteria.
  • Staff Photo by GRANT MORRIS

    Coach Justin Mongue gives batting practice to the baseball team at Nashua Community College, Wednesday afternoon behind the school. Ten years ago, there was a baseball field in this exact spot.
  • Staff Photo by GRANT MORRIS

    Coach Justin Mongue talks with his players during Wednesday afternoon's practice at Nashua Community College.
  • Staff Photo by GRANT MORRIS

    Easton Spangenberg stretches his shoulders during Wednesday afternoon's practice at Nashua Community College.
Saturday, April 7, 2012

Play Ball: Student jumps starts baseball program at NCC

If you post it, they will come.

That’s what Justin Mongue was hoping for a couple of months ago when he put a notice up on the Nashua Community College bulletin boards for prospective baseball players to be “part of school history.”

And it’s pretty much what he found out. Mongue, a former standout at Methuen (Mass.) High School, whose collegiate career was cut short by injuries, is attempting to get baseball back on the map at Nashua Community College.

Mongue is taking a course or two at the college and said he knew “the second I walked in the door” that he wanted to get baseball going again there.

Easton Spangenberg came – all the way from Bowling Green, Ohio. Well, he was already a first-year student at the school, but when he found out about Mongue’s efforts he had his family ship his baseball equipment. The other night he tried on his cleats and baseball pants.

“It was amazing,” Spangenberg said. “Best feeling in the world. No games, but I wanted that baseball feeling.”

He and the 15 others or so who have come out for what is now a club team will get games soon. The first may be the last weekend in April at a two-day tournament at Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor. Mongue is also looking for a couple of other scrimmages, including New Hampshire Technical Institute (NHTI) at some point.

Soon after enrolling at the school, he walked into athletic director Erica Knolhoff’s office and told her what he was intending.

“She said they had been looking for someone to start a program for a few years,” he said. “We talked for about an hour.”

“I made a deal with him,” Knolhoff said. “If he got the players, and they all came to the meetings and the practices we had set up, then I’d get them a few games. He’s held up his end of the deal.”

Actually, Knolhoff was hoping he would. Since arriving nearly two years ago, she has helped oversee the continuation of an effort to bolster athletics at the school, which competes in the Yankee Small College Conference and offers co-ed golf, women’s cross country and volleyball, and men’s and women’s basketball. The school would love to add baseball, played there several years ago. In fact, NCC at one point had a field until it was eliminated during building expansion.

Meanwhile, only a faction of the roster Mongue has assembled has played baseball on a high school competitive level, but that’s a hurdle he’s willing to handle.

“It’s kind of awesome,” said Ed Hudson, who played a year as a freshman at Merrimack High School. “We’re starting everything from scratch. The school isn’t able to help us much but that brings us closer as a team because we all have to work on this together.”

Mongue has lined up a sponsor or two to help with costs and uniforms, and the team finds a field here or there for what has amounted to practices a couple times a week. Knohloff, the former AD at Hesser College, also has gotten some equipment donated from neighbor Daniel Webster College, which ironically used to use NCC’s old field for games back some 25 years ago.

“Now it’s just getting the pieces together,” Mongue said, adding that one of his tasks in the next couple of weeks is to see who can pitch for him and who can’t, and then the rest will all fall into place. “We’re a team together, and we’re going to get through all this as a team.”

Knohloff says that the transition from club to varsity shouldn’t be that difficult. Varsity players have to be full-time students, however, and some of the players currently on the team are only part time. But Mongue says he’ll be able to field enough players from here on out. As a varsity, the team can compete in conference play.

“That’s the plan,” he said. “I really want to get the ball rolling on this.”

Why is he so adamant? The 23-year-old former catcher remembers expecting to play at Keene State College, but blew out his knee competing and missed out on the college game experience. He wants to provide that for his players, and he may compete in an inning or two behind the plate himself.

“He wants to take it upon himself to try to do that,” Knohloff said. “Not that I was skeptical. He was very, very optimistic, and I had to tell him to slow down – we need to do this and then this. And every day he comes into my office with better news.”

The best news will be when the team finally competes. Hudson says the ability will not be a factor.

“We’re competitive,” he said. “We all want to win, and the fact we’ve worked so hard to get this thing going together will help us. … The first time we step on the field together (for a game) will be awesome.”

“When I get them on the field, and I hear the umpire’s words ‘Play ball,’ that’ll be great,” Mongue said. “It’s going to feel great, and great for them.”