Nov. 16, 2018
LA MIRADA, Calif. — Biola University Director of Athletics Dave Holmquist announced Monday that Jay Sullenger has been selected to head the Biola University baseball team beginning next season. Sullenger is taking over for John Verhoeven, who is leaving Biola after 16 seasons at the helm.
Sullenger, who takes over as the ninth coach in the program's 63-year-history, comes to Biola with a proven track record while serving 11 seasons as an assistant and associate head coach at NCAA Division I James Madison University.
“We are excited to have Jay as our new baseball coach,” said Biola Athletic Director Dr. Dave Holmquist. “He has an excellent background in the game, both as a player and a coach. His ability to teach and motivate became obvious during the interview process. It also became very apparent that he is a strong Christian leader who will sincerely desire to impact the spiritual growth of his players.”
Sullenger spent 11 seasons at James Madison, joining the squad in 2001 as a volunteer assistant coach, becoming a paid assistant in 2004 and moving into the associate head coach role in 2008. He stayed at JMU through the 2011 season when he left to become the Minister of Recreation Outreach at Idlewild Baptist Church in Tampa.
“It is a blessing and privilege to be asked to serve God at a school like Biola,” said Sullenger. “The reputation of the University is easily understood as I continue to get to know the character of the people that God has called to serve on campus. Furthermore, the honor of being selected to serve God as the next Head Coach of the Biola Baseball program is humbling. There are many athletic departments in college athletics, but it is clear at Biola that there is an expectation to be excellent beyond the work that occurs in the classroom or on the field. It has been evident from the moment I stepped on campus that the process of discipleship within the lives of the student-athletes is the number one goal. I look forward to carrying that vision forward of not just pursuing a college degree, winning championships or an opportunity to play professional ball, but encouraging the development of a life long relationship with the one true God, Jesus Christ.”
As an associate head coach at James Madison, Sullenger was the third-base coach and hitting coach. He carried additional responsibilities off the field as the program's recruiting coordinator while also assisting with scheduling and budget management. Under Sullenger's tutelage, the Dukes routinely ranked among Colonial Athletic Association leaders in various offensive categories. Most notably, that was the case for the 2011 season when JMU led the nation in slugging percentage (.517) and runs per game (8.9) en route to its second league championship and a trip to the NCAA Regionals.
As chief recruiter for the Dukes, Sullenger landed classes honored nationally as among the top 100 by Collegiate Baseball four of the last five years. Sixteen JMU hitters have signed professional contracts under Sullenger's direction with the majority developed at JMU after going undrafted out of high school. Those players have included National Co-Player of the Year Kellen Kulbacki (2005-07), National Hitter of the Year and Johnny Bench winner Jake Lowery (2009-11) and two-time CAA Player of the Year Eddie Kim (2000-03).
Sullenger began his collegiate career at Division II Florida Southern before then transferring closer to his Shenandoah Valley home at Division I Liberty University in Lynchburg. He was a second-team All-Big South selection as a senior infielder at Liberty. He turned in the best season of his career as a senior, hitting .327 (50-for-153) with 12 doubles, five triples, two home runs and 26 stolen bases.
Sullenger worked one year for the Tampa Rays in facility and event management before beginning his coaching tenure with the Dukes. He earned his bachelor's degree in sports management from Liberty in 2000 and his master's in sports administration in 2002 at JMU. Jay and his wife, Erin, have four children: Eli, Hannah, Reagan and Macy Grace.
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