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New UNF skipper Joe Mercadante introduced to Osprey community

Joe Mercadante was introduced as the fourth head coach in UNF baseball history on Thursday in a celebratory event at UNF Arena’s Bank of England Suite.

The ceremony was attended by plenty of familiar faces, Ospreys and local media alike. Mercadante took the podium around noon, giving a speech in which he expressed great optimism for this next step in his career.

After serving as an assistant coach for nearly two decades at schools such as Miami and Pittsburgh, Mercadante will have a chance to put his own personal stamp on a program for the first time. However, this opportunity is also sure to present challenges.

Mercadante speaks at podium
Mercadante brings a plethora of big-name college baseball experience to campus. (Riley Platt)

“I think the biggest challenge anytime you’re a new coach, especially as a head coach, is trying to develop the relationships and the ability to communicate with your student-athletes,” Mercadante said. “No coach is ever gonna run their program the same, but the sooner you can connect with those guys, that makes that transition a lot easier.”

Director of athletics Nick Morrow, who was in attendance Thursday, shared during the search for UNF baseball’s new leader that it was a highly-attractive position. Mercadante affirmed this statement multiple times throughout the event, sharing that “it was not a tough place to sell.”

He believes that a multitude of factors, including a supportive athletic department and university administration, gives UNF the potential to be something great within the sport. 

Mercadante was announced as UNF’s head coach just over a month after the search officially began. (Riley Platt)

It’s easy to get lost in win totals as one looks to evaluate success in the world of sports, but Mercadante isn’t too worried about this going into year one. A ‘control what you can’ mentality will be at the center of his team in 2024.

“At the end of the day, we’re gonna try to maximize the potential of this ball club,” Mercadante said. “If you go out there and win the games you’re supposed to win and win a couple that you’re not supposed to, you’re gonna put together a good team.” 

One area that plagued the Ospreys this past season was conference play. Mercadante, who experienced success in the ASUN Conference  at Stetson University, believes that the key to overcoming this hurdle is simpler than it may seem.

Mercadante spent approximately 30 minutes connecting with those in attendance before giving his inaugural address. (Riley Platt)

“I think being able to play at a high level consistently is the difference,” Mercadante said.

Aside from the task that lies ahead, Mercadante expressed his adoration for the “beautiful campus,” saying that his curiosity has been particularly drawn to the hammocks found around UNF. He added that he’ll have to wait until the Florida temperatures cool down before giving them a try, though.

In the meantime, he’ll hit the ground running as he looks to turn UNF into the Sunshine State’s next great baseball power.


For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Riley Platt
Riley Platt, Sports Editor
Riley Platt is a senior University of North Florida multimedia journalism student. A lifelong Jacksonville native, Riley has always had a burning passion for sports, specifically at the collegiate level. He grew up coming to UNF basketball games as early as his middle school days and now gets to cover the Ospreys, living out his childhood dreams. Riley's done a bit of everything with Spinnaker, whether it be writing over 200 articles, doing play-by-play commentary for UNF basketball and even serving as a sports anchor for Spinnaker TV’s weekly Nest News. Riley transitioned from Spinnaker to an internship at the end of the summer 2023 semester and is expected to graduate at the end of 2023. 

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