Student ‘couldn’t let go’ of dream to coach baseball

Sophomore sport and recreation management major Jimmy Stinsman is an assistant baseball coach at St. Joe’s Prep.

Jimmy Stinsman, a sophomore sport and recreation management major and assistant baseball coach at St. Joseph’s Preparatory School, pitches during batting practice in the Kelly Field House on Girard Avenue near 17th Street. | JAMIE COTTRELL / THE TEMPLE NEWS

For the first three years of his career at Roman Catholic High School at Broad and Vine streets, baseball tryouts ended the same way for Jimmy Stinsman: He got cut and missed the team.

Each time this happened, the sophomore sport and recreation management major wanted to stay involved as team manager, keeping statistics. During his senior year of high school in 2016, Stinsman decided not to try out and instead dedicated himself to the managerial role.

“After my first year, I knew that regardless of my role, even though I wasn’t playing, the team and everything took full appreciation of me and wanted me to be around,” Stinsman said. “And it was something that I knew I had to do, and I couldn’t let go.”

Stinsman’s work as a manager established his relationship with former Roman Catholic coach Anthony Valucci, who was hired in August 2017 to coach at St. Joseph’s Preparatory School on Girard Avenue near 17th Street. Shortly after taking over the baseball program at St. Joseph’s Prep, Valucci added Stinsman to his varsity staff as an assistant coach. It’s the first step toward Stinsman’s dream of becoming a head baseball coach.

“It was something that I said to myself I always dreamed of and I couldn’t turn it down,” Stinsman said.

Valucci, 34, began coaching at age 20 and has hired several young coaches during his career. Some of them simply wanted to get to the varsity level as quickly as they could, he said.

“Jimmy is different,” Valucci said. “He wants to learn everything. That’s how I was when I was young. … I saw a lot of me in him. So I felt like it was great to give him the opportunity.”

Valucci’s first coaching position was for a team of 17-year-olds in Delaware County in the Babe Ruth League, a nonprofit that sponsors more than 60,000 teams internationally. Because he was so close in age to the players, he had to ensure they respected him as a coach.

Stinsman is experiencing the same dynamic this year. His age, however, makes players more comfortable approaching him, Valucci said.

St. Joseph’s Prep senior third baseman and outfielder Luke Donaphon said Stinsman knows what it takes to succeed in the Philadelphia Catholic League because of his experience as a high school manager.

“I would like to say I know what it takes, but I definitely don’t,” Donaphon said. “So it’s good to have him around to teach us the ways.”

Stinsman tried to coach last year at his alma mater, but he needed to be at least 21 years old to be employed at Roman Catholic. Instead, Valucci helped him earn a job as an umpire.

He umpired mostly at the freshman and junior varsity levels before he worked as the home-plate umpire at a game at Lansdale Catholic High School in Montgomery County.

“[Umpiring is] definitely a different picture,” Stinsman said. “You still know what’s basically going through these kids’ minds, and you see them every day going out there trying their best. But [it] also opens up to you sides that you never really imagined, where now umpiring, you’re the one who has to make the decisions.”

Umpiring was a way to meet new people and stay involved with baseball, Stinsman said. But his lifelong goal is to coach.

Jesse James Murphy — who grew up with Stinsman in Philadelphia’s Roxborough neighborhood and played for Roman Catholic — noticed Stinsman had an advanced knowledge of baseball during their first two years of high school.

The two played American Legion summer baseball for the Roxborough Bandits. Stinsman could tell where a batter was more likely to hit the ball based off his swing path alone, Murphy said.

“He knows the game really well, and he just loves just being around it,” said Murphy, who is a sophomore infielder at Cabrini University, a Division III team.

At St. Joseph’s Prep, Stinsman does everything from hitting fly balls to outfielders, smacking ground balls to infielders and throwing batting practice. He also traveled with the team for its trip to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida, to practice and play scrimmages from March 15-19.

Stinsman wants to learn about the details of running a program, like budgeting, scheduling games and conducting practices, Valucci said. He’ll have to do all of those tasks if he becomes a head coach one day.

“I definitely think this experience is something that I’m obviously trying to get the most of and I’m trying to learn a lot, and I feel as if so far, I definitely learned a lot,” Stinsman said. “I’m thankful for the situation that I’m in and the opportunity that Anthony has given me.”

1 Comment

  1. What a great story of a person not giving up on their dream, despite the setbacks. Being cut from making the team did not dissuade him, but made him work harder and realize he can participate in the sport he loves, but in a way where his talent benefits the team. He is an inspiration to all who have not been the best at a sport, but moved in another direction where he can still make a positive impact on the sport he loves. So glad he did not give up and maybe one day can be head coach of a major baseball team. Jimmy never give up doing what you love and remember never give up, dreams really do come true. I wish him the best of luck in the future.

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