Former intern Garrett Nance becomes hitting coach for Nighthawks

Garrett Nance hits to the infield during warmups for an Upper Valley Nighthawks game with Sanford at Maxfield Sports Complex in Hartford, Vt., on Thursday, July 20, 2023. Nance is assistant baseball coach at East Georgia State College and a graduate of New England College. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Garrett Nance hits to the infield during warmups for an Upper Valley Nighthawks game with Sanford at Maxfield Sports Complex in Hartford, Vt., on Thursday, July 20, 2023. Nance is assistant baseball coach at East Georgia State College and a graduate of New England College. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news photographs — James M. Patterson

Nighthawks hitting coach Garrett Nance, left, talks with manager Mat Pause, middle, and pitching coach Chad Sturgeon, right, before their game with Sanford at Maxfield Sports Complex in Hartford, Vt., on Thursday, July 20, 2023. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Nighthawks hitting coach Garrett Nance, left, talks with manager Mat Pause, middle, and pitching coach Chad Sturgeon, right, before their game with Sanford at Maxfield Sports Complex in Hartford, Vt., on Thursday, July 20, 2023. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news — James M. Patterson

Nighthawks hitting coach Garrett Nance, right, works with Christopher Worcester on his swing before their game with Sanford at Maxfield Sports Complex in Hartford, Vt., on Thursday, July 20, 2023. Nance returned to the team this year after interning with the Nighthawks in 2017. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Nighthawks hitting coach Garrett Nance, right, works with Christopher Worcester on his swing before their game with Sanford at Maxfield Sports Complex in Hartford, Vt., on Thursday, July 20, 2023. Nance returned to the team this year after interning with the Nighthawks in 2017. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

Garrett Nance, assistant baseball coach at East Georgia State College, who joined the Upper Valley Nighthawks as hitting coach this season adjusts his cap before a game with Sanford at Maxfield Sports Complex in Hartford, Vt., on Thursday, July 20, 2023. Nance was a game day operations intern with the team in 2017, operating the scoreboard, acting as mascot and running games between innings. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Garrett Nance, assistant baseball coach at East Georgia State College, who joined the Upper Valley Nighthawks as hitting coach this season adjusts his cap before a game with Sanford at Maxfield Sports Complex in Hartford, Vt., on Thursday, July 20, 2023. Nance was a game day operations intern with the team in 2017, operating the scoreboard, acting as mascot and running games between innings. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

By BENJAMIN ROSENBERG

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 07-22-2023 8:34 AM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — Six summers ago, Garrett Nance was a game-day operations intern for the Upper Valley Nighthawks, doing everything from running the scoreboard to putting on the mascot costume.

“I was a Division III baseball player, so being able to be there and talk to those big Division I guys, that was my biggest takeaway, watching them going about their day every day,” Nance said.

This year, Nance is back with the Nighthawks as a coach for “those big Division I guys.” A 2018 graduate of New England College who is now an assistant coach at East Georgia State College, Nance joined the Nighthawks’ staff as the hitting coach after Mat Pause, who was in that role last season, was promoted to manager.

Nance grew up in the Tampa, Fla. area, a region loaded with baseball talent, but said he wanted to experience something new after high school — after all, he had never seen snow until he arrived in New Hampshire. Although he has since returned to the South, Nance’s ties to northern New England remain strong. He met his wife, former Thetford Academy multi-sport standout Michaela (Pomeroy) Nance, at New England College, and part of the appeal of Nance returning to the Nighthawks was for Michaela to spend the summer near her family.

“I told (Michaela), ‘Would you like to spend the summer up with your mom in Vermont?’ ” Nance said. “She said of course. The past two years, we haven’t gotten up here very much. She’s a schoolteacher, so it was a good chance for us to be up here and be with my mother-in-law and spend the summer here, and I still get to coach baseball.”

Nance did not immediately enter the world of coaching upon his graduation, instead returning to the Tampa area to become an operations manager at Generator Fueling of Florida. After more than three years there, he took on the job at East Georgia State, where he is primarily responsible for hitting and working with the catchers.

His first experience coaching in summer ball came last year as hitting coach for the New Market Rebels of the Virginia-based Valley Baseball League, and he was all set to return to the Rebels in 2023 until the Nighthawks found themselves with an opening.

“You’ll hear some horror stories come out of some teams and some leagues where coaches are trying to change everything about how players are playing, whether it’s their swing or the way they field balls or how they throw — things summer ball coaches shouldn’t be messing with,” Nighthawks general manager Matt Wright said. “So to know that we had someone coming in (where) that wouldn’t be an issue was a big thing, on top of being familiar with how we do things here.”

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The biggest difference for Nance in the New England Collegiate Baseball League, typically considered one of the top three summer leagues in the U.S., was the advanced technology he suddenly had access to. He had used Synergy, a data analysis service, in the spring at East Georgia State, but the NECBL also uses TrackMan, which measures everything from pitchers’ ball trajectory and spin rate to hitters’ exit velocity, contact point and launch angle.

It has been an up-and-down year at the plate for the Nighthawks, who entered Friday third in the NECBL in team batting average but dead last in both runs scored and home runs. Outfielders Adarius Myers (Louisiana Tech) and Ryan Cesarini (St. Joseph’s) and catcher Kevin Bruggeman (Hofstra) have been the biggest bright spots offensively.

Pause said Nance’s philosophy on teaching hitting is similar to his own, and summer ball coaches rarely have their players make any major adjustments anyway.

“We both stress hitting fastballs, obviously swinging at strikes, making sure guys know their zone,” Pause said. “As far as communicating with guys during the summer, we’re not trying to change anyone’s swing. These guys aren’t our guys. We’re just here to give them tips, and Garrett does a great job with that.

“We’ve had a few guys look at the Synergy and TrackMan stuff. It’s kind of a seamless transition for him and for me.”

Benjamin Rosenberg can be reached at brosenberg@vnews.com or 603-727-3302.