Penn State Hazleton Chancellor Gary Lawler announced on Monday that Justin Gutsie has been chosen as the head coach of Nittany Lion baseball for the 2017 season.
"Justin's experience in athletics and working with young people combine to make him an excellent choice to lead the Penn State Hazleton baseball team. We are confident that having a coach of his caliber will be a major benefit to our student-athletes," Lawler said.
A 2005 graduate of Hazleton Area High School, Gutsie excelled as a two-sport athlete for the Cougars, playing both basketball and baseball. Gutsie was named the region's top athlete in 2005 and chose to continue his education and athletic career as a pitcher for the Red Storm of St. John's University at the NCAA Division I level. Gutsie's arm caught the eye of pro baseball scouts and in 2008 the junior left college to pursue a career in Major League Baseball. Gutsie was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 14th round of the MLB draft and spent two years with the organization before injury forced him to retire from the sport.
With his professional playing days at an end, Gutsie remained focused on pursuing a career in the field of athletics. He returned to college in 2010 and completed his bachelor's degree in sport management at East Stroudsburg University. It was during this period that Gutsie began sharing his experiences with local youth, coaching at the middle and high school level in addition to a traveling youth baseball club. Gutsie became the assistant director of the Pyramid Sports Performance Center in Lehighton, where he served as an instructor for baseball camps, clinics and strengthening programs and in 2014, Gutsie left the complex to start his own business in the Hazleton area. In March 2014, he opened the Gutsie Sports Academy in West Hazleton, where he and his staff specialize in the instruction and training of athletes from youth to college age while fielding competitive travel teams in various age groups known as the GSA Gators.
Now, at the helm of Penn State Hazleton Lions baseball, Gutsie said he is focused on building respect and connecting with current players while planning for the future. "I seek to create an environment for each player to have success," Gutsie said. "I'm looking for student-athletes who want to develop and be challenged, which will lead us to building a successful and winning program at Penn State Hazleton."
Gutsie draws on his playing experience from all levels, but his coaching style was perhaps most influenced by Scott Brown, his pitching coach at St. John's University. "I picked up many things from him as far as his energy, paying attention to the small details, and most importantly, his mentality," Gutsie said. "He had the ability to challenge players to reach their full potential but also had the ability to communicate on a personal level with his players."
Penn State Hazleton Director of Athletics Ryan Ehrie said, "We are thrilled to welcome Justin Gutsie to our coaching staff at the campus. He has a great set of skills and a tremendous track record. He has a distinct love for developing talent and has coached numerous young athletes who have gone on to play at all levels of the NCAA, including two players who were drafted professionally."
He and his wife, Kaylee, live in Hazle Township with their two children, Chase and Isabelle.