By Dave Dyer firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — HAVERHILL — Jeff Mejia has dealt with junior college athletes before and he’s enjoyed it.
“They have particular issues and they’re motivated to do better,” said Mejia.
An assistant baseball coach at Suffolk University the last seven years while also managing the Rams Athletic Complex in North Reading, Mejia will now get the chance to deal with a lot more of them and on a permanent basis. He was recently named the Northern Essex Community College baseball coach. Mejia, who was selected from more than two dozen applicants, replaces Chris Shanahan, who resigned after a successful three-year span in which the Knights earned a trip to last year’s Division 3 World Series, where they advanced to the semifinals.
“We’re very excited to have him,” said NECC athletic director Sue MacAvoy. “He has a lot of great experience and an excellent reputation.”
While assisting at Suffolk, Mejia coached several Northern Essex players who transferred.
“The tradition of baseball here is excellent,” said Mejia. “Northern Essex has an excellent name throughout New England baseball and the students who transfer from here to four-year schools have really good reputations.”
Mejia says his coaching style is a mix of being a “players” coach and a disciplinarian.
“Dedication, hard work, and commitment from them on and off the field,” he says. “That’s what it is really about. First and foremost, the students are here to advance their academics.”
The 41-year-old Mejia, who is a 1989 graduate of Everett High and later graduated from Salem State, has already put in a new conditioning program and formulated plans for fund raising for the annual preseason southern trip.
“I’m excited to get going,” said Mejia, a resident of North Reading. “I like the community and this is an excellent situation for me. There are a lot of key players coming back, especially pitchers.”
Although the Knights graduated seven starters from last year’s 30-10 powerhouse, they return position players — Pat Parker, who hit .507 last year, Luke Reynolds and Tyler Johnson as well as seasoned pitchers Derek Dolan and Chris Martin. In addition, a strong recruiting class is led by infielder Roger Roman of Lowell and pitchers Dan Peters of Salem, N.H., and Zach Beckwith of Manchester Memorial.