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  • Staff photo by BOB HAMMERSTROM


    Former Division I college baseball coach Nate Goulet is rethinking career choices. Goulet is a former Nashua High School baseball standout who was named Coach of the Year as an interim head coach at Old Dominion University.
  • Staff photo by BOB HAMMERSTROM


    Former Division I college baseball coach Nate Goulet is rethinking career choices. Goulet is a former Nashua High School baseball standout who was named Coach of the Year as an interim head coach at Old Dominion University. He has moved his family to the area, and is rethinking career choices.
  • Staff photo by BOB HAMMERSTROM


    Nate Goulet




Monday, May 7, 2012

Nashua’s Goulet taking break from baseball, for now

Nate Goulet looked out onto the Holman Stadium infield from the dugout, shook his head and smiled.

“Lot of memories on this field,” he said. “A lot of good ones, some bad.”

Actually, the only bad would be when he collided with a Coffey Post teammate and tore up his knee during the American Legion baseball state tournament prior to the start of his senior year.

But the former Nashua High School infield standout came out of that OK. Now he wonders what the future holds after his latest baseball adventure ended in disappointment, this one hundreds of miles away in Virginia Beach at Old Dominion University.

Those memories are more fresh than the ones from Holman, and the bad may outweigh the good. Just last year Goulet was ODU baseball’s interim head coach, guiding a team that was projected to be seventh in the Colonial Athletic Association to a second place record of 30-26. The Monarchs reached an eventually lost in the school’s first conference championship game appearance since 1999. The reigning American League Cy Young and MVP winner Justin Verlander pitched for the Monarchs shortly after that time, from 2002-04.

For his effort, Goulet was named CAA Coach of the Year. Then, a month later, after a power-point presentation before an interview committee of administrators showing all aspects of his plan for the program, from a budget to GPA goals, team rules, etc., Goulet got the phone call from Old Dominion assistant athletic director Deb Polca that he wasn’t getting the permanent job.

“It’s funny how things change,” Goulet said. “I did the interview as I would applying for any other job. … I knew everybody there. That made it even harder. I thought it went great. It was my first interview for a head coaching position, and I was fighting for my job.”

Goulet was one of three finalists for a position that, when former head man Jerry Meyers had left in August of 2010 to take the University of South Carolina pitching coach job, reportedly attracted over 100 applicants. The ODU athletic department instead hired former Western Kentucky coach Chad Finwood, who had taken that program to four NCAA appearances. Finwood also happened to be at one time the head coach under then-WKU athletic director Wood Selig, who had later become the AD at Old Dominion. Goulet connected the dots.

“It’s with everything,” he said. “It happens in the business world, and to everybody else. We had a great year, and it could have been even better. ... But a new AD, he’s going to want his own people. I thought Wood was going to do everything to get Chad there. That’s what I felt (as the season went on).”

Meanwhile, Goulet and his wife talked over the summer and realized there was no reason to stay at Virginia Beach. So they packed up and brought themselves and their 2-year-old daughter back home. Goulet found work for a while as the general manager of a local indoor baseball facility, but it was sold and he’s now looking to make a career change away from baseball.

Is this the case of the game losing a good coach? Now 38, he had made a career as a college assistant/recruiting coordinator for 14 years, with stops at East Tennessee State, Delaware State and, his alma mater, Lincoln Memorial University. He had been on the ODU staff since 2005 and was the logical choice to take over, at least on an interim basis when Meyers left just before the start of the fall season.

“It’s in your blood, but sometimes you have to go in a different direction,” Meyers said. “But I felt he deserved the opportunity. He did everything he could.

“He’s a great baseball coach, and an even better person. … He’s put a lot of years in, made a good impression on a lot of people. If he wants to stay in college coaching, he’ll have opportunities.”

But Goulet, who looked into a couple of jobs – he did apply for the Rivier College job that went to Anthony Perry, and looked at jobs at Akron and Temple – isn’t sure he wants to pursue them, so he can spend more time with his family. In fact, Silver Knights manager B.J. Neverett asked whether or not he’d like to help out with that team over the summer but Goulet turned the offer down, saying “the reason I moved here is to spend more time with my family.” He doesn’t want back in the game this soon.

“Not right now,” he said. “I’m 38 years old, married with a 2-year-old daughter. I think I want something more stabile (than college coaching). ... I didn’t want to take a job just to take a job. Instead of going to a place for year – would I be happy there? – my wife said, ‘Let’s go home.’ ”

Perhaps at some point he’d like to coach, he said, at a local school or for a youth program and “give something back to the community.” You’d have to think he misses the game, now that he’s been away from it for about a year.

“I miss the day-to-day conversing with the players,” Goulet said. “I miss being in the trenches with the players. I used to love practice. That’s what I’m going to miss. It keeps you young.

“A lot of people don’t understand what it’s like being a head coach at a Division I university. The organization, working with budgets, communicating with the kids, selling yourself, selling a program.”

Those skills, he said, should translate into a career in the business world or elsewhere. But the sense of accomplishment he feels with what he’s done at Old Dominion certainly could lure him back to college coaching down the road.

“It was fun,” he said. “But it was also a tough year. When you have that interim tag on your name, it’s tough. It didn’t come down to wins. Our team GPA after the fall was 3.0, the highest it had been in years. I took pride in that. I was going to run a program the way I wanted to run a program.”

And now the world outside beckons, as maybe an internal tug of war with his baseball self.

“Hey, I’ve been playing a lot of golf,” Goulet said with a smile. “Got my handicap down from a 20 to a 17.”

“We all go through that,” Meyers said. “I’ve been coaching college for a long time now, and I can’t tell you how many times when I’ve felt the same thing. … Nate couldn’t have done more than what he did (last season), and hopefully he feels good about that.”

Incidentally, ODU’s record going into the weekend was 16-27.