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Jesse Leonard returns to Juniata baseball as head coach

(Posted August 11, 2011)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Newly appointed Juniata College Director of Public Safety Jesse Leonard, a 2006 Juniata graduate, will return to the Eagles' baseball program to serve as head coach.

"Jesse is a fantastic addition to our coaching staff. His background as both a coach and as a highly successful student-athlete at Juniata makes him the right choice to lead our baseball program," said Juniata Athletics Director Greg Curley.

Coaching the Eagles' baseball squad is not entirely foreign to the once standout Juniata left fielder. Upon graduating in 2006, Leonard accepted a year-long assistant coaching position with the Eagles.

"Getting the opportunity to coach with (former coaches) Tom Gibboney and George Zanic at my alma mater during the 2007 season was a great experience. Ever since then, I've been trying to get back to Juniata, and I couldn't be happier to have the chance to come back in a coaching capacity," said Leonard.

"Jesse has a unique connection to the great tradition and history of our baseball program. I expect him to continue to build on the work of those before him to and leave his own mark on this next chapter in Juniata baseball," said Curley.

Leonard inherits a senior class of seven, six juniors, and a talented sophomore class which returns nine.

"I am fortunate to have been given this role, because I know I've got some really talented players already on the roster. As their coach, I am looking forward to leading a highly competitive team both within the conference and regionally," said Leonard.

"Not only is it important to me that my players develop themselves athletically on the field, but I also want to encourage them to develop personally off the field. I view intercollegiate athletics as an extension of the classroom, and a microcosm of many of life's lessons," said Leonard.

During his senior campaign, Leonard helped guide the Eagles to a 30-win season, the most wins in Juniata baseball history. Leonard was also a member on the 2004 Commonwealth Championship team, which earned the Eagles an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III tournament.

Leonard, a two-sport athlete during his time as an Eagle, earned spots in the Juniata record books in both baseball and football. The two-time All-Middle Atlantic Conference selection in football, is currently ranked ninth in single season punting average with 38.0. In the baseball record books, Leonard's name can be found ranked in the top 15 for career at bats with 438, single season doubles with 11, and single season hits with 50.

After earning his bachelor's in business and information technology, Leonard continued his education at University of Akron where he earned his master's in higher education administration. Upon graduating from Akron, Leonard worked as a residence life coordinator for the university.

Leonard returns to the Huntingdon area with his fiancé, Lauren Gates, a 2007 Juniata graduate.

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Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.