Jason Harvey played three sports at Husson College and spent one year as the shortstop for the University of Maine’s baseball team.
Now he will put his vast playing experience to use as the interim head coach of the Husson College baseball team.
He will replace John Winkin, who collapsed while jogging on Dec. 10 and spent five days in serious condition in the intensive care unit at Eastern Maine Medical Center. He is currently undergoing rehabilitation in a Waterville facility.
“He is making small steps in his recovery,” said David Winkin, the son of the legendary coach. “His communication is getting better and his movement is getting better.”
The younger Winkin added that his father and all of their family members “appreciate all the support, the letters and notes, he has received to support his recovery.”
Husson College athletic director and football coach Gabby Price said he was excited to have Harvey on board. Harvey, who turned 24 on Jan. 2, is a full-time employee as an admissions councilor at the Bangor-based school.
“Jason is an outstanding person. I don’t know anybody who doesn’t respect him,” said Price. “This is a home run.
“He’s mature, he’s a competitor, he has emotional balance and he has a great handle on what it takes to be a [successful] coach in all parameters of it,” added Price.
Bucksport native Harvey said the situation with Winkin’s illness is “tough for everybody,” but he is looking forward to the challenge.
“Ever since I graduated from [Bucksport] high school, my goal was to become a head coach either at the high school or, eventually, at the college level,” said Harvey. “I’ve been blessed with this situation. It’s like a dream come true.”
“I’m very excited. I haven’t been able to sleep,” said Harvey.
He said he was very lucky to have played for a number of outstanding coaches like Winkin, Dave Gonyar, David Morris, Warren Caruso, John Kolasinski and Paul Kostacopoulos.
Harvey played four years of basketball, three years of baseball and one year of golf at Husson College. He was the captain of both the baseball and basketball teams.
He was a three-time All-North Atlantic Conference choice in baseball; a second team All-NAC pick in basketball for three years while eclipsing the 1,000-point mark and, in his one season of golf, he was a second team All-NAC choice.
He was the starting shortstop in his one season at Maine.
Husson players Andrew Patterson, Nick Arthers and Corey Cushing are looking forward to playing for Harvey.
“He’s a great guy for the job,” said Patterson. “He’ll do well for the program. He has great leadership skills. He’ll have the respect of all of the players.”
Arthers said despite the fact Harvey is roughly the same age as the players, that won’t be an issue.
“We don’t see him as our age. He’s somebody we look up to,” said Arthers.
“He’s accomplished a lot. He’s a great role model,” said Cushing.
Arthers said Harvey will provide the Eagles with a different type of coaching style.
“Coach Winkin coached us through his voice and knowledge,” said Arthers. “Jason will be more energetic and more hands-on.”
Harvey said he likes to put pressure on defenses.
“I like to run and do whatever we can to gain an edge,” said Harvey.
He will be a stickler when it comes to conditioning so his team will be able to utilize a running game.
“We aren’t going to have a lot of power so we’re going to have to hit the ball on the grass and hit it in the gaps,” said Harvey. “We’ll hit and run.”
He fully expects his team to compete for the NAC championship.
He doesn’t anticipate any attitude problems and said he won’t shy away from disciplining his players if the situation calls for it.
“We’ve got a great group of kids. [Discipline] won’t be an issue,” said Harvey, who graduated in May with a B.S. in Business Administration-Sports Management.
Harvey, who will receive a pay raise to cover his coaching position,according to Price, will be able to name his own assistant coaches.
Tony Laprino had signed on to join Winkin’s staff and Harvey said the offer is still good.
“I’d like to have two good ones,” said Harvey, who will begin recruiting soon.
The team will hold its first practice on Jan. 24.
Harvey is married to the former Kristin Pelletier, a Husson College soccer player who graduated in 2004 with a master’s degree in physical therapy.