SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -Dan Gomez has been appointed to be the ninth head coach in the 45-year history of the Western New England University baseball program on an interim basis after the resignation of Matt LaBranche, who has accepted a similar position at Eastern Connecticut State University. That announcement was made Monday by WNE Director of Athletics Dr. Michael Theulen.
"We thank Matt for all that he has done in elevating both our
baseball program and our athletic program during his long tenure at
Western New England University," said Theulen. "I am pleased to
announce that Dan Gomez has agreed to step forward as head coach.
Dan has been with the program for the past four years and has done
a tremendous job in all phases. This announcement allows us to move
forward seamlessly into the upcoming academic year."
Gomez has served as LaBranche's top assistant coach since 2010, working primarily with the Golden Bears catchers and hitters. Gomez also handled the team's travel arrangements and recruiting, and will lead the Golden Bears through the 2014 season.
"I am grateful for the opportunity Coach Theulen has given me to be the next head coach at Western New England," stated Gomez. "I am extremely excited for the opportunity to continue the winning tradition that Coach LaBranche has established at WNE."
A resident of suburban East Longmeadow, Gomez was graduated from Endicott College in 2008 with a bachelor's degree in sports management. He was a four-year member of the Gulls' baseball team and an All-Commonwealth Coast Conference selection. He was the team co-captain and most valuable player as a senior when he batted .336 and had team highs of 10 doubles and 31 runs batted in.
At Western New England, Gomez has helped the Golden Bears capture three CCC championships, four NCAA Division III Baseball Championship tournament appearances (including the 2011 College World Series and 2012 New England Regional runner-up), and a 148-49 record (.751) from 2010 to 2013.
Gomez previously served as a coach for the East Longmeadow (Mass.) High School junior varsity baseball team in 2009.
LaBranche built Western New England into a perennial regional power and one of the best NCAA Division III programs in the nation. The winningest coach in WNE baseball history with a career record of 429-187 (.696), LaBranche's teams won a staggering 80.3 percent of their conference games, or 195 of 243 starts, in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) and CCC.
All told, LaBranche guided WNE to 10 NCAA tournament berths, 17 GNAC/CCC titles, produced 10 All-America awards, and coached scores of student-athletes who have been named All-America, -region, -conference and academic all-CCC throughout the years.
"I will always be grateful to Western New England for the opportunity it provided me. I'm very proud of what the baseball program has been able to accomplish over the past fourteen years. As I begin a new chapter in my professional life, I would be remiss not to thank all the administrators, colleagues, assistant coaches and players that have helped me along the way. I will always have a strong emotional attachment to the university and particularly Golden Bear baseball. I wish Coach Gomez and the team continued success."