by Andrew Longeteig
PORTSMOUTH – Great Bay Community College has hired Mike Vining as the school’s first softball coach to lead the Herons into its inaugural season beginning fall 2017.
Vining brings 15 years of coaching experience to Great Bay, primarily at the high school level. He most recently served as the head coach at Portsmouth Christian Academy (PCA) and helped lead the team to the final four in New Hampshire for the past three years and reached the state championship game for the first time in 2014. In 2015, he was chosen as the New Hampshire Softball Coaches Association (NHSCA) Division IV coach of the year.
“I’m extremely excited to coach at the next level and look forward to the challenge of starting and building a new program at Great Bay,” Vining said. “We’re going to be a fun and competitive program, and emphasize fundamentals, pitching and defense.”
Vining is confident the Herons will find quick success with early interest and commitments from high-caliber student-athletes in the Seacoast area and throughout New Hampshire. He also said Great Bay is an ideal place for softball players to advance their athletic and academic pursuits.
“We’ll prepare these women to play at another college further down in their careers,” said Vining, a native of Bangor, Maine. “After they play at Great Bay, they’re going to be ready to contribute immediately, if they decide to transfer to another school.”
A lot of Vining’s success at PCA stemmed from starting the school’s junior high program in 2011. For the past six years, he also has coached the Amateur Softball Association summer travel team and since 2015, he has coached the Seacoast Shock, a 16-and-under team, which won the state title last year and made back-to-back World Series appearances. Prior to the Seacoast Shock, he coached the Dover Attack travel teams who earned three straight state championship berths and won many area tournaments.
“Coach Vining has the experience in building a successful program from the bottom up that we are looking for,” said Allyson Britton, Athletic Director at Great Bay CC. “He has the passion to see his student-athletes succeed both on and off the field and that’s what it’s all about.”
More Video: How rum is made at Tall Ship Distillery in Dover
The Herons will participate in the Yankee Small College Conference, which already includes softball squads from Southern Maine CC, Central Maine CC, College of St. Joseph (Vermont) and NHTI.
The impending arrival of softball comes just after Great Bay CC declared it would add baseball for the 2017-18 season, led by new coach Enrique “Kike” Calero.
Vining intends to fundraise and work with the baseball program by traveling together to spring tournaments in the southern United States every year.
Vining and his wife, Gerri, live in Dover. They have two daughters, Alicia and Ashley. Alicia is a sophomore at American University and a former softball standout who was selected as the NHSCA Division IV pitcher of the year in 2015. Meanwhile, Ashley is a senior at PCA and has been a multiple D-IV all-state selection.
“The timing couldn’t have been better to join Great Bay,” Vining said. “I was very fortunate to coach both of my daughters and now is the perfect time for a new challenge by coaching at the college level. I look forward to working with the Great Bay faculty and administration, and assisting in providing a fulfilling education and college experience for our student-athletes.”