Saint Peter’s softball team welcomes new head coach Christopher Stelma, who has now become the first full-time manager of the softball program.
Before his arrival at Saint Peter’s, Stelma served as an assistant coach at William Paterson University during the 2016 season.
In addition to his experience in coaching, Stelma is the owner of Fielder’s Choice Baseball/ Kaboom Softball in Andover, where he coordinates training, league play, tournaments and facilities. He also served as the head coach of the U18 Showcase baseball/softball teams, and was the head coach of his alma mater, County College of Morris’ baseball team during the fall of 2007.
Stelma was a member of the University of Rhode Island baseball team while he was in college, where he played two seasons as shortstop for the Rams, making 31 starts and appearing in over 40 games.
Before transferring to URI, he began his collegiate career at County College of Morris, where he played for current Saint Peter’s assistant coach Ed Moskal. Stelma was named All-Region and All-Garden State Conference at County College of Morris and ranked top 15 among JUCO hitters in 2003.
Stelma has a strong passion for softball and looks forward to what’s up next for the peacocks under his guidance.
“I love the fact that athletes are forced to deal with failure throughout the course of the game,” Stelma said. “Nobody is excited when they don't get a hit, but if you're good you don't get a hit 70% of the time. Playing this game teaches you the ability to enjoy the smallest little success. You also have to learn to deal with disappointment and move on right away.”
Although Stelma received a bachelor's degree in communications, he decided to become a coach.
“Frank Leoni, who was my coach at URI, made me want to be a coach,” he said. “I learned about much more than baseball from him. He taught us to be accountable for our actions, stay disciplined and professional. It was the impact that he had on my life after baseball that made me want to be a coach. Coaches have much more impact on a young student-athlete than just what happens on the field. That's what I wanted to be a part of.”
Coach Stelma is very enthusiastic about being part of the Peacocks team, he expressed.
“I honestly could not be happier at Saint Peter's, I got players who had their own workouts set up, a freshman class committed to making a difference, returning players who desire more, are determined and are open to change, as well as an incredible Athletic Director committed to growing the program here. The people I interact with on a daily basis are great and I could not be happier!”
Stelma is looking forward to reaching a few goals for this upcoming season.
“I look for players that have a strong desire to win and also understand what it takes to win,” Stelma said. “From putting your bag in the right spot, to taking quality at bats, the good ones understand that every little thing matters. We have two main goals this season as a team: win more than 15 games, and make the MAAC Playoffs. We understand that we are in a process of building a winning tradition, but there's no reason we can't be successful now! As a program we want to change the culture a bit. Understanding that things aren't always going to be perfect, but we will work through them together.”
Coach Stelma's determination will surely steer the team in the right direction for a successful season. He describes their energy as:
“I would use the word excitement. There have been a lot of great changes around us within the athletic department,” Stelma said about the team’s energy. “It makes a big difference to the players when they can see the things around them changing for the better. The athletic department staff works extremely hard to support us, and that coupled with high energy practices gives us an exciting atmosphere.”
With all of his experience as both a player and coach, Stelma has some advice for aspiring coaches and players.
“I would like to tell them that playing and coaching are very rewarding, but you have to put the work in,” he said. “The work you put in on a daily basis is so much more important than the results you get. It’s not an easy road or an easy sport. Work for the things you want and appreciate any little thing you get in return for your work.”
He’s certainly excited to get the season underway, and couldn’t be more ready to get this team going. When asked about what he would want to say to his players before the start of the season he said:
“Girls, all the pieces are here to achieve what we all want. Through common goals, mutual respect and hard work we can achieve anything. You can't be partially in, you must give your all in every aspect of being a student-athlete. When things get hard keep calm and carry on. We will put in the work to achieve the things we want, but if we fall short we will take pride that we put the effort in.”