TALLAHASSEE, FL (July 17) – It was a dream come true. For a coach who spent 21 years as an assistant, today marked a step to the forefront for Jamey Shouppe as he was announced to the FAMU community as the next head baseball coach. For a team coming off back-to-back 44 loss seasons and single digit wins, this was a prized catch.
Shouppe feels the benefits are mutual. “In my presentation to the selection committee, I had three words…Why not FAMU? That sums it all up. When you look at Al Washington, Al Davis, Andre Dawson, Hal McRae, Vince Coleman and Marquis Grissom, there need to be more of that caliber players coming out of this university,” Shouppe said. While Shouppe, who spent 21 years as an assistant coach at Florida State University, mostly as pitching coach and recruiting coordinator, it wasn’t just about returning to familiar territory. “ This is not all about coming home. This is about a Division I opportunity,” he said.
Shouppe has a concentration in pitching, in which he has produced 10 ACC team ERA pitching titles, recruited and coached 63 professional drafted pitchers including six first round draftees, recruited and coached 26 first team All-Americans and coached in nine College World Series.
Shouppe will be the first permanent coach for the Rattler baseball team since the departure of Willie Brown early this year. Kevin Clethen coached the Rattler baseball squad on an interim basis this past season, with assistance from Brett Richardson. Shouppe credited Clethen and Richardson for being team players and holding the FAMU baseball program together in his absence.
Accompanied by his wife Karen and two sons in the audience, he holds family values close to him. He’s no stranger to FAMU either. His oldest son Jake is in the Pharmacy school at FAMU, where he will earn his doctorate in pharmaceutical medicine in the Spring. Shouppe’s ties include a friendship with FAMU faculty athletic representative Dr. Ebenezer Oriaku, who works in the FAMU School of Pharmacy.
In an over-capacity crowd in the media room of the Al Lawson Center, Shouppe was greeted by well-wishers from across the city. Leon County Commissioner Nick Maddox, City of Tallahassee Commissioner Scott Maddox and State Representative Alan Williams (D-Tallahassee), were all in attendance at the event. FAMU National Alumni Association president Tommy Mitchell and Capital City Bank’s Bill Smith were also in attendance. Several former players, current players, friends and fans were on hand to catch a glimpse of the future of FAMU baseball.
Michael Smith, who is interim director of athletics, felt the selection committee vetted the candidates well, resulting with the eventual hiring of Shouppe. “Our committee represented some of the most successful eras of Rattler baseball, and we feel they were solid in their commitment to finding someone who could restore success to our program,” Smith said. “Judging by the faces and numbers in this room, I think they’ve done just that,” he added.
Shouppe revealed his spiritual side during the press conference. “I’ve been carrying around a note in my bible, that I’ve had for over 20 years. The note says ‘to be the best leader of men, you must first be a follower of God,’ ” Shouppe said. He added, “My job as a believer is to do uncommon things here at this university.”
Shouppe is currently a coach with USA baseball. In 2012 and 2013, he was the pitching coordinator for 18-up Summer league baseball. Professionally, he played with the Houston Astros from 1982-1985, where he was drafted in the eighth round of the 1982 draft.
Shouppe is confident that he can build the program through mental toughness. “I believe that I am the man to lead FAMU baseball to a level of success that no one believes possible,” Shouppe said. He added, “anything can happen with a plan for success. I have a plan and I possess the characteristics that are necessary to lead FAMU baseball to unprecedented levels.”
With a core of returning players, the Rattlers could rebound with some additional firepower. Shouppe is very focused on junior college players to add some immediate help for the Rattlers. “Good recruiting makes coaching easier. Bad recruiting or not recruiting makes coaching more difficult,” he said. He went on to describe a mix of junior college transfers and high school players to make the team successful.
As for the MEAC, his only experience was a few games against Bethune-Cookman in the NCAA playoffs. He feels it’s not imperitive to have in depth knowledge of the conference to be successful at this point. “I am not that familiar with the MEAC< but I am familiar with baseball. I know what a good baseball team looks like. If you play the game and are proficient at what you do, you will win,” he said.
Shouppe was approved by FAMU interim president Dr. Larry Robinson, who is excited about the hire. “We look forward to Coach Shouppe establishing a winning baseball program,” said Robinson. “We want to celebrate the success of our students athletes on the field and in the classroom for many seasons to come.”