TAMPA — Miguel Menendez is the new baseball coach at Jesuit, the school announced Thursday. He replaces Richie Warren, who led the team to a state title this past season.
Menendez, 37, is a former University of Tampa star under coach Terry Rupp, the current athletic director at Jesuit, and was the head coach at Key West eight seasons before stepping down after the 2013 season. He did not coach last season.
"When I stepped down from Key West, I just wanted to explore some other options," Menendez told the Tampa Bay Times. "I was looking to get back to the Tampa Bay area. There were some other things we were looking at … but this was the one we wanted to pursue.
"I would say it has to be one of the top jobs in all of the country. Knowing the tradition and the facilities and the quality of education, it's an unbelievable opportunity for me. I'm blessed to have this chance."
A Key West High graduate, Menendez won a state championship as a player, starting for the team that beat Osceola in 1995.
He played at the University of Tampa from 1996-99 as a catcher and first baseman. He was a two-team All-Sunshine State Conference first-team selection, and the Southeast Region MVP in 1998 in helping the Spartans to the Division II College World Series title.
"I went to UT, so I've always followed Jesuit closely," he said. "Terry Rupp was my coach in college, so I'm sure that didn't hurt."
This will be the second time Menendez has inherited a storied program coming off a state championship. In 2006, he took over for Ralph Henriquez at 11-time state champion Key West following the Conchs' last state title. Menendez led Key West to the playoffs three times.
Menendez has relatives in Brandon and was born in Tampa — his mother went to Leto — but moved to Key West when he was just 1 month old. He and his wife Lori have three children: Miguel, Jackson and Elizabeth.
Contact John C. Cotey at email@example.com or (727) 869-6261. Follow him @JohnnyHomeTeam