Nick Derba was named head coach of the University of Maine Black Bears baseball team by UMaine Director of Athletics Karlton Creech on June 23, 2017. Derba, who assumed the role as interim head coach December 17, 2016, becomes the 25th head coach of the University of Maine baseball team, which began in 1881.
“We’re excited to announce Nick Derba as head baseball coach,” Creech said. “Nick proved himself this season as interim head coach and in the national search process that began after the season ended and attracted a large group of highly qualified candidates. We are confident in Nick’s ability to recruit and coach high-caliber student-athletes who will be champions in the classroom, on the field and in the community. Thank you to our search committee and our campus partners who helped conduct a thorough and efficient search.”
Derba said he was honored and excited to be named the head coach of the UMaine baseball program that is steeped in history.
“The coaching staff and the 2017-18 Black Bears are extremely excited to get this new era of baseball underway,” Derba said. “The young men that we have the privilege of coaching will continue to represent this University to the highest degree. We will continue to push forward in the America East academically and athletically, with the overarching goal of getting to a regional appearance and beyond. “I would like to personally thank President Susan Hunter and Karlton Creech for their appointment of me to this role. A very special thank you to Jack Cosgrove, Lynn Coutts and Mike Coutts for their support over the last six months. I am also very fortunate to have such a supportive wife and would like to thank her for her continued support.”
Derba recently completed his fourth season on the UMaine coaching staff, including the 2016-17 season as interim head coach when he guided UMaine to its highest win total in four years (25). In America East Championship play, Derba led the Black Bears to four straight wins, earning a berth in the title game. The impressive stretch run marked the first time since 2013 that UMaine appeared in the league championship. Derba also mentored a pair of all-conference selections and two America East all-rookie team members.
“I’m excited for Nick Derba, our baseball team and our athletic department,” said Jack Cosgrove, senior associate director of athletics who chaired the national search committee. “Coach Derba is a team player all the way and he will have a great impact on not only our student-athletes, but also on the future growth of our department.”
Derba was promoted to associate head coach in 2015. During his first three seasons at UMaine, he served as the team’s recruiting and summer camp coordinator. He also was directly involved in UMaine baseball’s community outreach efforts, including fundraising for the Vs. Cancer Foundation, and team visits to Eastern Maine Medical Center, Old Town YMCA and local schools.
Faith in Derba to lead the Black Bears is apparent among the players, said catcher Jon Bennett.
“The whole team was pulling for Coach Derba to win the job,” Bennett said. “We had a group text and talked about it every day. With him being the head coach, we’re confident he’ll turn the program around. We gave a taste at the end of the season of the success and how he’ll run the program. Now that the interim tag is lifted, he’s the guy and we’re really excited for the future.”
Prior to joining the UMaine community, Derba was the hitting and catchers coach for the Chatham Anglers of the Cape Cod Baseball League in summer 2013 — the same team that he played for from 2004-06. During the 2012 season, he was a volunteer at Manhattan College after working with the Jasper catchers in the 2010 and 2011 off-seasons.
In the 2007 Major League Draft, the St. Louis Cardinals selected Derba in the 31st round. He played six years in the Cardinal system, advancing as high as AAA Memphis (PCL). In 2012, he was a member of the Texas League champion Springfield Cardinals. From 2008-12, Derba spent significant time in the Cardinals Major League spring training camp. After the 2012 season, he retired to pursue a coaching career.
Derba had a highly decorated playing career at Manhattan College, where he was honored as a three-time All-MAAC first team catcher. He was the only three-year captain in Manhattan baseball history and still ranks among the school’s all-time leaders in career home runs, hits, runs scored, games played and RBIs.