CHICOPEE, MA – John Raiola has been named head coach for the Elms College Baseball Team, Director of Athletics Michael Theulen announced.
Of the appointment Raiola said "I'm extremely excited to get started and very thankful for the opportunity. Elms College has a ton of attractive qualities and I have every expectation that we will create a culture of winning and success, both on and off the field."
Raiola brings over nine years of college-level coaching experience to the Blazers. He is currently serving as the Head Coach of the Valley Blue Sox in the New England Collegiate Baseball League, and most recently as the pitching coach at Western New England University, as well at a pitching coach at Bridgton Academy in Maine. In addition to working with four different NECBL teams (Newport 2009-2010, Keene 2011, Sanford 2013-14, Valley 2015-Present), he gained experience as an assistant at Keene State College from 2009-2014 after spending a year at the College of Santa Fe in 2008.
While at Western New England, Raiola has overseen one of the more successful pitching staffs in New England, including the top-rated staff in the region in 2016. During his first three seasons, Raiola has coached four All-Region pitchers, two Conference Pitchers of the Year, and eight All-Conference pitchers, including the 2016 Regional Freshman of the Year and 2018 Division III ERA Champion, Bob Hamel. In addition to his responsibilities as Pitching Coach, Raiola also works primarily with the Golden Bear infielders and baserunners, as well as serving as the team's third base coach. In his first year running the offense, Western New England finished second in the country in walks and hit by pitches, 12th in stolen bases, and 20th in runs per game. Since joining the staff in 2016, Western New England holds an 84-44 record, while being nationally ranked in the top 25 in all three seasons.
During his time in the NECBL, Raiola has had the opportunity to coach over 70 eventual draft picks, including the first overall pick in the 2013 MLB draft, Mark Appel. Additionally, Raiola has been a part of four NECBL Championships (Newport 2009, Keene 2011), including back-to-back championships in 2017 and 2018 that also saw the Valley Blue Sox take home the honor of 2018 Summer Collegiate Team of the Year, voted by Perfect Game. Throughout his first four seasons at the helm of the Blue Sox, Raiola has led his team to an improved record in each season, culminating in a 30-12 campaign in 2018 to secure Raiola's first NECBL Manager of the Year award. The Blue Sox hold a 111-76 overall record over that period, including a 12-3 mark in the playoffs.
Raiola said "I think my time at Western New England and with the Valley Blue Sox has really helped me familiarize myself with the Elms baseball program and Western Mass in general. There are a ton of good players in the area who have been overlooked and need a home and want to be a part of building something special, so we are really excited to get to work in order to make that happen."
A 2008 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, Raiola earned his Bachelor of Science degree in journalism before receiving his Masters of Education degree in school counseling from Keene State in 2013.