HitZ Instructors

Coach Katie Hickey

SOFTBALL PITCHING & SKILLS COACH

SOFTBALL & COACHING EXPERIENCE:

  • Played Division II softball for Texas Woman’s University in Denton, TX.
  • 2017 Regional Champions
  • Named to the 2016 Lonestar Conference All Tournament Team
  • 4 year varsity starter in high school with all district accolades every year

About: I’ve played softball since I was 7, and began pitching my very first practice. Throughout high school I played other positions too, mainly first base and outfield, before exclusively pitching in college. My biggest strength pitching wise was my ability to control the ball and have great spin. I know, and can teach, nearly every pitch you can think of!

Jeff Spada – Owner

GENERAL SKILLS & HITTING COACH

BASEBALL & COACHING EXPERIENCE:

  • Played from the Age of 6 Yrs. Old
  • Coached players from Kiwanis thru Scholastic Baseball and Softball
  • Coached Travel Baseball
  • Coached Travel Softball Elite
  • Formed HitZ Training Academy
  • Implement Technology and Training Systems for effectively evaluating and training Baseball and Softball Players from ages as young as 6 yrs. old through Collegiate level players.
  • Longstanding Member of the IBRL (Ithaca Babe Ruth League) Non-Profit Organization responsible for Cal Ripken Baseball, Babe Ruth Baseball and Little Red Softball (LRSC) Club.

Philosophy: I believe in teaching our players the right techniques to build good habits early on as it is easier to teach and form good habits than to unlearn bad habits and re-train. I love this game and seeing the youth develop into players they may not have believed they were able to be. Baseball combines the individual with team and teaches skills that relate beyond the game in life.

Coach Quincy English

CATCHING, HITTING & GENERAL SKILLS

A NITTANY LION Forever!

SOFTBALL & COACHING EXPERIENCE:

  • A 4 year varsity player at IHS.
  • Played for TC3 and was a captain my sophomore year.
  • Received an All-Region and All-Conference honors.
  • Played for Penn State after I graduated from TC3. I will always be a Nittany Lion. WE ARE!
  • Member of the USAAI softball team, representing USA in exhibition softball tournaments around the world. That’s one of my biggest accomplishments in this sport.

Coaching Philosophy:

I have played softball since I was 3 years old. I played all through school. I am a very dynamic player. I have played and been taught how to play every position. My main positions are Catcher, Outfield, and 1st. There really is nothing I can’t teach you how to do! I love to teach, as I also teach swim lessons at the YMCA every weekend, and coach a 16U travel softball team out of Binghamton NY, called LFP Elite. I teach any level and age!

Coach Nicholas Pontari

PITCHING, HITTING, CATCHING & GENERAL SKILLS COACH

BASEBALL & COACHING EXPERIENCE:

  • Coach Nicholas Pontari became a member of the Cornell Big Red coaching staff in August of 2019. As a member of the coaching staff, Pontari’s main responsibility is the development of the Catchers, while assisting in the development of pitchers as well. Pontari comes from Brockport, where he coached for four seasons, following his graduation from Brockport as well.Pontari joined the Golden Eagles staff in the summer of 2015 as an Assistant Coach after graduating with his bachelor’s degree in Physical Education from The College at Brockport.Pontari’s initial responsibility was assisting in recruiting for the Golden Eagles. In his tenure as an Assistant Coach, Pontari has assisted in recruiting numerous players who have impacted the Golden Eagles including SS Greg Ruddy (‘16), RHP Austin Spindler (’17), 1B Anthony Eaton (’19), 3B Lou Miceli (’19), Aaron Cook (’19), Kyle Canavally (’20), Kobie Punchard (’20), Brandon Greenspan (’20), Cooper Meldrim (’21), Nick Pastore (’21), Ryan Voight (’22), and Ryan Mansell (’22).In his first two seasons as an Assistant Coach, Pontari worked primarily with catchers, along with assisting the pitching staff and daily recruiting operations. In his time working with the catchers, Pontari played an instrumental role in developing 2x All-Region catcher Paul Ludden, while also aiding in building a foundation for Liam O’Leary, who later became a staple in the SUNYAC conference. Since the 2017 season, Pontari has moved to take over the daily operations of the pitching staff. During his time with the pitching staff, Pontari has assisted in developing pitchers Alex Brown, Trevor McCarthy, Brandon Greenspan, Austin Spindler, and All-Conference pitcher Sam McCumiskey.Pontari is a graduate of Troy High School in Troy, NY. After graduation, Pontari attended Hudson Valley Community College and was a part of the 2010 Hudson Valley team that played into the Regional Finals, coming up one game short of the NJCAA Division 3 World Series. He later transferred to Fulton-Montgomery Community College to continue playing for Head Coach Dave Hennessey, where he played one semester for the Raiders.For his final two seasons, Pontari transferred to The College at Brockport, where he closed out his career as an athlete. In his senior season, Pontari led the staff with 15 appearances as a reliever, which tied him for seventh all-time in single season appearances in the Golden Eagles record book. In 19.1 innings of work, he compiled 16 strikeouts while only allowing 3 walks. Pontari also won and saved 2 games each for the Golden Eagles out of the pen.

Coach Richard Carberry, JD

PITCHING FUNDAMENTALS – ADVANCED WITH VIDEO ANALYSIS

BASEBALL SPECIFIC STRENGTH TRAINIG AND ARM CONDITIONING

BASEBALL & COACHING EXPERIENCE

Player:

Southern Connecticut State University:

  • 4 year varsity letterman
  • 2X All-New England Team Selection
  • College Baseball Digest Honorable Mention All American

Coach:

Owner:  Pitch Doctor Baseball Pitching Academy, Ithaca, NY

  • Pitching Coach: Ithaca HS; Automotive HS, Brooklyn, NY; Bartlett HS, Webster, MA; Nichols College, Webster, MA

Personal Trainer:

  • Personal Training Institute, Cedarhurst, NY
  • New York Sports Club, Garden City, NY
  • Finger Lakes Fitness, Ithaca, NY

Background:

I have been a lawyer, teacher, personal trainer and coach. Raised on Long Island, I played high school sports at a private school that sent many players directly to pro baseball and to DI and DII college programs. I played multiple sports in high school and both football and baseball in college, but baseball was the sport I ultimately focused on. Twice I was named to the All New England college baseball team was named a College Baseball Digest honorable mention All-American. I have coached basketball and softball on the High School level and baseball on both the high school and collegiate level. I am a pitching specialist. After coaching high school baseball in Massachusetts, Long Island and Brooklyn I came to Ithaca in 2009. I spent three years as the pitching coach for the IHS baseball program. It was while I was there that I realized that to be effective and remain healthy our pitchers needed an opportunity to prepare for the season much earlier in the year and work within a well-structured program to form the necessary habits and conditioning necessary to be an effective pitcher.

Coaching Philosophy:

I believe that because pitching is a fast and complex movement it needs to be coached through the use of slow motion video and metrics capture. I began using video analysis in 2011 and today it serves as the basis of all of my instruction. As I’ve been a personal trainer since 2003, I also apply the principals of sports specific training to benefit my players to give them their best chance of success. I have had the good fortune to work with dozens of pitchers from age 8-18 over the last decade and am pleased to now be affiliated with HitZ. A high % of the pitchers I’ve worked with have gone on to play college baseball and pitch for their colleges.

Coach Josh Mitchell

PITCHING & HITTING & GENERAL DEFENSE COACH

BASEBALL & COACHING EXPERIENCE:

  • Playing Experience:
  • Ithaca HS Varsity Baseball
  • Upstate Chill (Corning based ECTB team)
  • Brockport Club Baseball
  • Freshman Year – Finished 8th in the nation for NCBA Div II.

Background:

I am a 2014 graduate of Ithaca High School. I played baseball for Ithaca High School’s baseball program. I have since moved on to SUNY Brockport to pursue a degree in both Exercise Science and Kinesiology with a minor in Coaching. I also was a member of their Club Baseball team. Now that the finish line is in sight, I’m very eager to make my first steps into the world of coaching and training. 

Coaching Experience:
I have spent a good deal of time giving instruction to younger athletes throughout my HS and College years. I used to be a part of the Pitch Doctor pitching clinics that were held weekly at BJM elementary before I left high school. I also have taken a slew of courses in coaching philosophy and strategy from some of the best college coaches in NY. I was one of the primary players on the Brockport Club Baseball team that worked with pitchers and their mechanics during practices as we were a self-governed organization without an adult coaching staff. I have also recently joined Ithaca Babe Ruth League as a coach,  I was assisting the 14u Ithaca Inlet Monsters throughout their 2018 summer tournament season and am head coach of 13U Travel Team for 2019.

I understand the mechanics and roles of every position on the diamond as I was a very versatile player and spent time at every position at every level. My first love was pitching, and that is also the position with which I have the most instructional experience. I had some of the best hitting and pitching instructors in the area work with me throughout my career which have given me a wealth of knowledge regarding mechanics, strategy, and drills to pass along that will give the athletes the tools they need to reach their full potential.

One thing other than my extensive baseball knowledge that I bring to the table is my background in strength and conditioning as a future exercise physiologist. I can bring a quality training program that is baseball specific to improve strength, speed, power, and therefore performance. Also, my program will be effective in preventing injuries as the most frequent cause of injury is being under-conditioned.

I generally can address the needs of my athletes without weights (the classic sense of weightlifting) and can be recreated at home with minimal equipment. I am also extremely mindful of the age of the players as I create these programs as to not over-stress their developing joints. My preferences tend to be plyometric exercises for explosion and power, agility and speed drills, and strength training using body weight, medicine balls, kettle-bells, J-Bands, and occasionally dumbbells.

Coach John Rizzo

HITTING & FIELDING COACH

BASEBALL COACHING EXPERIENCE:

  • Assistant coach Ithaca College Varsity Baseball
  • Head Coach Ithaca College JV Baseball
  • Previously coached at Cayuga Community College
  • Previously coached at Keuka College
  • Summer coach in the ICBL (Collegiate) and UBL (High School)

AS A PLAYER:

  • 4 year starter Keuka College
  • Held 8 school records at time of graduation
  • 1st team all conference
  • 3rd team all region
  • .538 OBP ranked 10th in the nation (2018)

Philosophy:

Most importantly whenever coaching a team or helping an individual my philosophy is helping them develop as better men. I feel the game of baseball is an excellent teacher of the game of life. I focus on minute details and developing players a feel for my teachings. It’s much easier to make adjustments if you can feel or see that adjustment. My expertise is hitting and infield work as I’ve done both at the collegiate level.

Coach Ray Ackerman

CATCHING – BASEBALL & SOFTBALL

As a youth growing up in Upstate NY, I played several sports. However, by far, my favorites were baseball and hockey. They seemed like great complementary sports; baseball in the summer and hockey in the winter. As a ball player my main position was catcher, where I played through youth sports, although, at times, I played third base and center field. I was very fortunate to have great coaches that took the time to teach me the proper mechanics of catching.

During my early years, and while working for my home town’s Parks and Recreation Department I coached youth baseball in the summer time, as well as, umpired baseball games. My favorite umpire position was calling balls and strikes from behind the plate.

While in college my attention turned to golf but baseball was still dear to my heart. So, in order to stay close to the game I took on an internship on the New Paltz College baseball team, helping out the coaching staff while learning how to manage teams, as well as coach ball players on the fundamentals and mechanics of baseball, primarily focusing on catchers.

After graduating from college my attention shifted and building my career in Social Work became my primary focus. However, sports continued to be a touch stone in my life. Today I remain active in hockey as a player and coach, cycling and golf.

After marrying and starting a family my children re-engaged me into the world of coaching baseball. Over the past 4 years I have served as an assistant coach for one of our local Cal Ripken baseball teams. My primary role has been to work with catchers and, in a progressive way, introduce them to the world of catching. Coupled with this, in 2016, I was the catching coach for the 13U Cal Ripken girls’ softball team, as well as, worked with youths in groups and individual sessions to help build proper skills, mechanics and to excel as a catcher.

My coaching philosophy is simple, respect everyone’s learning curve, teach proper mechanics, make it challenging and fun and create great athletes and team mates.

Sports are truly a wonderful tool to build physically fit and emotionally resilient kids. It provides for them experiences that prepare them for the challenges of life. When kids are afforded the proper instructions to achieve in sports it sets them up for success, thus setting the stage for positive experiences and continued success.

Coach Mike Clark

HITTING, PITCHING, CATCHING & FUNDAMENTALS COACH

Mike Clark brings 11 years of college coaching and several years of coaching high school baseball and softball.  Mike Clark has worked with fundamental areas, but primarily works with hitters, pitching and catching.  Currently, Clark is an assistant coach at Lansing High School for the Varsity Baseball Team.

Mike Clark completed one season as a volunteer assistant coach with Cornell University, helping the Big Red finish 23-17 overall and 11-9 in the Ivy League’s Lou Gehrig Division.

Clark joined the Big Red after spending three seasons as Head Coach at Denison University in Granville, Ohio. He led the team to a 52-64-1 record during his tenure, advancing to the North Coast Athletic Conference championship game in 2010. His team had a .321 batting average and .407 on-base percentage during that season, leading it to a fifth division title since 2003.

Clark came to Denison after spending six seasons as an assistant coach at Emory University, where he served under Mike Twardoski, one of the winningest active coaches in NCAA Division III. During his time with the Eagles, they posted a record of 162-54-1 (.749) while making three NCAA regional appearances to go along with four University Athletic Association championships. In 2007, Emory finished as the national runner-up at the Division III College World Series and set a new school record for victories with 43.

A 2002 graduate of Cortland State, Clark was a catcher on two-straight NCAA qualifying teams in 1997 and 1998. In each of those seasons the Red Dragons posted back-to-back third-place finishes at the Division III College World Series. After earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education at Cortland, Clark spent five years as a teacher and baseball coach at the high school, college, and summer-league levels in the greater Atlanta area.

Adam Tischler

MLB STRENGTH & CONDITIONING COACH

Bio:

  • BS Exercise & Sport Science – Ithaca College ‘03
  • CSCS – ‘03
  • Strength & Conditioning Coach with Chicago White Sox ’05-‘11
  • Over 2 dozen players coached reached the Major League level
  • Personal Trainer ’03-‘18
  • Malcolm Gladwell says 10,000 hours of practice makes you an expert.  Adam has double that number of hours working with athletes of all ages and experience levels to reach many different goals.

Initial Meeting:

Every athlete will get an initial session that provides an athletic movement screen or functional strength screening depending on reason the athlete came to me.  After that we’ll be able to set realistic goals and base a program and routine based specifically on the athlete’s needs to achieve their desired goal and improve overall athleticism

Following Sessions:

Sessions will begin with dynamic movements that prepare the athlete’s body for the meat of the exercise routine to increase performance and decrease injury risk.  That will be followed by sport specific exercises that will be designed to improve the athlete towards their stated goals.  The athlete will learn to perform the exercises correctly and efficiently so that they can also do them on their own at the facility or at home.

All sessions will be coached with positive and encouraging feedback.

Adam will be driving our HitZ-Fit programs as well as discipline specific training with Pitching, hitting and Catching Clinics being offered to build specific muscle groups, flexibility, etc. pertinent to each area of training and development needed.

Positive thinking yields positive results!

 

All sessions will be coached with positive and encouraging feedback.

 Adam will be driving our HitZ-Fit programs as well as discipline specific training with Pitching, hitting and Catching Clinics being offered to build specific muscle groups, flexibility, etc. pertinent to each area of training and development needed.

Positive thinking yields positive results!

Coach David Anderson – Honorary Coach at HitZ

PITCHING COACH, HITTING, OFFENSE & DEFENSE

Now on the Coaching Staff of the Los Angeles Dodgers

Playing background:

  • 4 year varsity baseball player at Christian Brothers Academy in Syracuse, NY
  • 2011 First Team All CNY Selection
  • 3 year starting pitcher at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA
  • 2014 First Team All NYCBL Pitcher, finished the season 9-0 with a 1.03 ERA in over 60 innings for the Geneva Twins
  • 2015 Team Captain at Muhlenberg College
  • Played in two seasons of professional baseball
  • Played for the Newburgh Newts of the North Country Baseball League and finished with a 2.38 ERA, 7 saves, .194 BAA in 16 appearances in the summer of 2015
  • Was signed by the Bridgeport Bluefish of the Atlantic League in August and maintained a 2.67 ERA in over 40 innings
  • Began the 2016 season back with the Bluefish before being traded to the New Jersey Jackals of the Can-Am League

Coaching experience:

  • 2016 Assistant Baseball Coach at Muhlenberg College, worked with hitters, position players, pitchers
  • 2017 Pitching Coach and Recruiting Coordinator at Muhlenberg College
  • Pitching staff set the school record in strikeouts, posted lowest ERA and BAA in over 15 seasons
  • Current Assistant Coach at Cornell University, work with all positions

Recruiting experience:

  • Former Recruiting Coordinator at Muhlenberg College
  • Currently work to run the future Cornell University prospect camps, work showcases and camps across the country

Areas of expertise:

  • Trained and equipped to work with all positions and needs (pitching, hitting, fielding, catching)
  • Played with and learned from countless MLB players, both past and present
  • Worked with players from ages 8 through collegiate players of all divisions

I am passionate about what I do and love helping players develop both physically and mentally; understanding people do things differently I help players find what works for them while improving fundamentally sound actions and overall athleticism.

Coach Seth Cameron

HITTING COACH, OFFENSE & DEFENSE

Ithaca High School JV Head Coach, Former IHS Varsity Asst. Coach

I focus on hitting instruction, general defensive instruction, catching and the mental aspect of the game.

Focus:

  • BasebalL
  • Hitting Instruction
  • General Defensive Instruction
  • Catching
  • Mental Aspect of the game

Experience:

  • Ithaca Pirates – 2012-2015 – Asst Coach / 2016 – Current – Head Coach
  • Ithaca Babe Ruth – 2015-2016 – Asst Coach
  • Ithaca High School 2014 – Current – Asst Coach
  • Ithaca Babe Ruth Association Umpire

Coach Chantel Hammond

SOFTBALL FOCUS, BASEBALL AS WELL. HITTING, OFFENSE & DEFENSE, PITCHING.

Born and raised in Ithaca, NY, Chantel graduated from Ithaca High School in 2013.  Her love for the game started young in life – at age 6 she was swinging her bat; she played five years of youth Cal Ripkin and Babe Ruth baseball, six years of school softball at Ithaca, followed by college softball at Onondaga Community College and Mansfield University (under athletic scholarship).  Her primary positions were 2nd base and outfield.  Chantel graduated from Mansfield University in 2017.

Softball Experience:

  • 3-year Varsity softball player, Ithaca High School
  • 2 Seasons Syracuse Sting Travel Tournament Team
  • 1 season Elmira Lady Rebels Travel Team (2013 Eastern US ASA “A” 2nd place winners)
  • (Collegiate) Onondaga Community College Lazers, JUCO
  • (Collegiate) Mansfield University Mountaineers, Division II

Key Collegiate Season Stats:

  • Started 43 games at 2nd base with a .984 fielding percentage
  • Led team in hits and ranked 10th in the region with 54 hits
  • Posted a .394 batting average and a .404 slugging percentage with 28 RBIs
  • Batted lead-off her freshman year and moved to #3 for power after
  • Had 10 stolen bases

Coaching Philosophy:

Chantel’s energy and passion for softball – as evident in her play on the field, conveys in her coaching.  Along with the proper fundamentals essential for a player to reach their full potential, Chantel understands the importance of developing the strength and achievement attitude in softball.  She has experience in the path to college level ball and knowledge of the skills and attributes college coaches seek in recruiting.  Chantel specializes in (softball) fielding and batting instruction.

Coach Britton Fazio (Brit)

HITTING, GENERAL FUNDAMENTALS

Bats: Switch

My name is Britton Fazio. I was born and raised right here in Ithaca and grew up on the ball fields and in a dugout.  My father has been an Assistant coach at Ithaca College since 1979 and I was the batboy while soaking up as much information as possible during the years.  I was a two year starter for Ithaca High and my senior year was voted Section 4 player of the year.  I had a tryout with the New York Mets organization the summer after my senior year and signed a letter of intent to play at the University of Central Florida.

I have had the privilege of coaching with many great coaches in the area, learning the fundamentals of hitting and fielding.  I have really concentrated on hitting in the past and am one of the few guys that feels offense wins games.  I have worked at Ithaca College for hitting camps, winter clinics and years of baseball camps.  I have also been an assistant coach at TC3, numerous summer ball teams and a couple years in the Babe Ruth program here in town.  I was also an assistant softball coach at Ithaca High for 3 years in which I learned the different aspects of the game of softball.

I believe hitting a ball is the hardest thing to do in sports and it takes hard work, dedication and the will to listen and apply what is being asked of you to do. In addition to that I want kids to learn the fundamentals of the game but doing so in a fun and positive way.  I grew up a coach’s son and feel my attributes are being able to connect with a player, teach them the game in a way that they will understand, enjoy and hopefully succeed.  I have had years of working on hitting instructions, both baseball and softball, and learned how to break down a swing, tweak little things and do it in a way your athlete will understand and be able to learn and have fun with.  I believe a good coach is a good teacher, someone who has fun, teaches the athlete to be a better player on the field as well as a better person off it as well.  We can learn so many things in sports that if we apply them to our everyday life we will hopefully be a better person and succeed in things we put our minds to.  Sports are supposed to be fun, and in teaching the game to your athlete, I will make sure they enjoy learning, and give them a chance to be successful, on and off the field.

Contact: HitZithacabaseball@gmail.com for information on how to book lesson or clinic time with Coach Fazio.