Former Saint Leo University assistant Chad Sommers has been hired to replace Bruce Cimorelli as Zephyrhills baseball coach.
Sommers, 30, was introduced by Cimorelli, who stepped down after 13 seasons upon being hired as the Bulldogs' athletic director, and first-year ZHS principal Steve Van Gorden at a Wednesday morning news conference at the school.
He becomes only the fourth Bulldogs coach since 1980.
"Full of energy, very child-centered, a good teacher of the game," Van Gorden said of Sommers. "His baseball knowledge is phenomenal. … Looking at the whole athletic program, he's wanting to get very involved with all of athletics at Zephyrhills High School. Great morals, ethics, strong disciplinarian."
Sommers, who owns a local residential real estate branch, won't be on the ZHS faculty. He was hired from a pool of six applicants, Van Gorden said.
"You can definitely tell athletics are very important here," said Sommers, a Chicago native raised in Baltimore. "I've been out of baseball three years and the competitive fire never dies. Baseball's my life, it always has been, and I'm ready to compete."
A former catcher at the University of Charleston (W.Va.), Sommers most recently served as coach of the Zephyrhills Snappers of the wooden bat Florida Collegiate Summer League. That team, which played its home games at ZHS' Clements Field, won the 2005 FCSL title before relocating.
In 2004, Sommers served as coach and general manager of an Orlando-based FCSL club that eventually became the Snappers. Before that, he spent three years as recruiting coordinator and assistant at Saint Leo. Sommers also has coached at Division II Davis & Elkins College in West Virginia, and in the wooden bat Valley Baseball League in Virginia, which caters to aspiring pros.
Sommers said his first order of business will be assembling a coaching staff and getting in touch with returning players. Zephyrhills, 16-9 last season, must rebuild its entire starting infield now that senior first baseman/pitcher Tyler Guy and sophomore sibling Jacob Guy have transferred.
Cimorelli also confirmed longtime assistant Kenny Prickett won't be on Sommers' staff.
"I think with all the kids that have left and the level of talent coming in, it was really important for us to find someone that was going to be a teacher," Van Gorden said.
"Chad, during his interview process, definitely displayed that he's a teacher; he's going to work with these kids, and that was very important during our hiring decision."
Vacancies galore at Gulf: Travis DeWalt's first summer as Gulf High athletic director promises to be a hectic one.
The school currently is seeking head coaches for four boys sports (basketball, track, cross country, weightlifting) and two girls sports (cheerleading, volleyball). Some of those spots became vacant when coaches took the same positions at nearby Anclote.
"I'm confident we'll fill the positions," DeWalt said. "Although the guys there will be missed, that's for sure."
Joey Knight can be reached at email@example.com.