By Hayley Tafuro
STAMFORD—Former Westhill High School pitcher Nate Newhall knows what it’s like to be a winner on the field. The 21-year-old has had a lot of championship experience, ranging from the Class LL state title his sophomore year of high school to a comeback win in the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League his sophomore summer in college.
After all of that winning, Newhall hopes to continue his streak, but this time from the dugout as an assistant coach of the Stamford Babe Ruth 18U team.
“I played Babe Ruth my whole life,” Newhall said. “They did a lot for me, so it’s nice giving back to them. (Coach) Jimmy (Serafino) approached me and asked me if I wanted to coach and I said, ‘Why not?’ ”
Newhall had three successful seasons at Westhill, and as a result of all of the work he did in the offseason, getting better and stronger, he started to talk to coaches about where he could play in college. This landed him at Sacred Heart University, where he played his freshman and sophomore seasons until injuries plagued his career.
“In high school I had surgery on my shoulder, and I was supposed to have surgery again on my labrum during my sophomore summer, but I didn’t do it,” he said.
The path that he was on looked promising enough to lead Newhall to possibly continuing to play after college, and early on that was his initial thought.
“I did before I had an injury that sophomore summer,” he said. “I thought I had a chance, but as injuries go, you kind of realize it’s not worth it and that you can’t do it.”
Despite his injuries limiting him from playing, Newhall is able to stay involved with the game thanks to the Babe Ruth League, now just from a different position, as a coach. The transition from player to coach isn’t always easy, but Newhall has learned a lot from coaching the 15-year-olds last summer and has carried that knowledge over to his second summer.
“I think a lot of the fundamentals of baseball, just the basics of doing things, get overlooked sometimes,” he said. “Coaching-wise, you see a difference in coaches all over. Some kids know what they’re doing and some don’t, which is a big thing, because when you bring them all together, you have to make sure they’re on the same page with things.”
This is one of Newhall’s and the rest of the Babe Ruth coaches’ biggest challenges, with all of the players coming in from different high schools and different coaching staffs.
Serafino had nothing but good words to say about Newhall after coaching with him for two seasons.
“I love having Nate,” he said. “When you bring in younger guys, they connect easier with the kids. Bringing someone in with the pitching experience he has, it’s been a blessing.”
Although Newhall says that he doesn’t really see himself as a coach in his future, he’s happy that it lets him do something for the summer and stay involved with the sport he loves. In the meantime, he reminisces about the success he’s shared with his past teams, and the Babe Ruth coaching staff is thankful to have the alumnus in its repertoire.
“It’s really hard because I see a lot of former players come back and not be able to translate to coaching,” Serafino said. “But Nate has done that. That’s what has impressed me.”
The Stamford Summer Baseball Report is sponsored by Mark Smith & Associates