The UR baseball squad will have a new skipper at the helm this season.

Last May, Director of Athletics and Recreation George Vander-Zwaag appointed Joe Reina to lead the Yellowjackets in the upcoming year. Reina replaces interim coach Dave Palese, who had stepped up from the role of assistant coach to fill the vacancy after head coach Bob Hartz had resigned to focus on a private start-up business in 2000.

?Dave was put in a difficult position as an interim head coach,? VanderZwaag said in a UR news release. ?He handled the responsibilities superbly.?

?I am extremely grateful for his willingness to take on this challenge, and proud of what his team accomplished this season,? he added.

Reina, a Rochester native, comes to UR loaded with experience.

As a player, he was a two-year starter at Monroe Community College. He was the All-Region III shortstop in 1994-1995 season. Reina was also the Region III Player of the Year in 1995, as well as the Div. I Junior College All-American in the same year for the Tribunes.

Later that year, he graduated from Monroe Community College with an associate?s degree in liberal arts.

Following his graduation, he was awarded an athletic scholarship by Long Island University in Brooklyn, N.Y. He was a two-year starter for the Blackbirds and then went on to graduate with a B.S. degree in physical education in January of 1998.

After life in the City, Reina earned a position as a substitute teacher in the Rochester Public School system and worked as an assistant coach at MCC. Then, he furthered his education by finishing his master?s degree in education at the College of New Jersey.

Reina is excited about working with the team this season.

?Coming into a program who has had a part-time coach for a while, my expectations are to build on the successes that a program has had and bring on my system of baseball to UR,? Reina said.

?We have lost a great deal of experience and leadership from last year?s team with the graduation of [shortstop] Bill Rasmussen, [second-baseman] Keith Erazmus, [catcher] Mike McKinsey and [catcher] Dan Kernan,? he said. ?But I feel we have a solid core of returning players. This core will be asked to come to the fore- front and be leaders both on and off the field.

?Once this is established, I feel we will be contenders for the UCAA title and a bid to the NCAA tournament,? Reina continued.

Reina will have his work cut out for him with a team that has high expectations. He inherits a baseball program that went to post-season play three times in the last four years, including the National Collegiate Athletic Association playoffs in 1999.

The Yellow-jackets were 19-15 last spring, finishing as runner-up in the Upstate Collegiate Athletic Association and earning a bid in the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Association Championships.

In addition to his head coach duties, Riena will also serve as an assistant director for intramurals.

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