Immaculata University – Immaculata, Pennsylvania
Hometown: Voorhees, New Jersey
Education: Penn State Abington
Email: jmerkh [at] immaculata.edu
The moment you first realized that you might like to make coaching part of your career.
I first realized I wanted to go into coaching when I was in my senior year of college at Penn State Abington. I was just coming off my second shoulder surgery and was still in a sling, recovering. I went to practice and we were discussing bunt defense. The way we had previously been running the coverage was not working out. I was a transfer from a JUCO and suggested that we try the way I had previously run it. It worked well and guys on the team seemed to buy in. From that moment forward, I constantly asked, “Well, what else did you do? What are your thoughts about designed picks? How did you guys steal so many bags? etc.” That really peaked my interested moving forward as more of a teacher of the game rather than player.
Outside of mentors, talk about one or more ways you’ve learned some aspect of coaching.
The great part about coaching is there is no one right way or wrong way to do things. Whether its using analytics and learning how to crunch numbers from reading a book, or watching youtube videos looking for new drills there’s so many different ways to find information. However, for me personally, I really like the trial and error aspect. Being able to work with players in small groups in junior college really allowed me to experiment with drills, philosophies, and ideas. The players could give me feedback on what they liked, what worked well, and even what was practical.
If you could go back to your rookie coach self and give one piece of advice, what would it be?
Sheesh, EVERYTHING? I mean there was so many things I didn’t know. The only thing I really did right was have blind faith that I was doing something I loved and it would pay off in the end. If I could pick one piece of advice to give myself I tell my 22 year old self to trust my gut.
Best career or work advice you ever received.
My former head coach I worked under at Immaculata had the best quote that has stuck with me since he said it — “Players don’t care what you know — until they know that you care.” I’ve allows strived to be more than just a baseball coach to my players, however that statement says and explains it the best and to its truest form.
Your dream lunch date. One coach. Any sport. Any level. Living or dead. Who is it?
Buck Showalter, hands down. The amount of information alone he has is incredible, however the way he presents it, the way he treats people, the way he carries himself, are all qualities that I strive to exhibit myself. He has such an eye for little details within the game and I’d love to pick his brain and hear his stories.
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