Long-term East Grand Rapids rival now the Pioneers’ new baseball trainer

Matt Schepel let it be known was ‘a little weird’ when he put on an East Grand Rapids baseball top just because.

Nothing unexpected there since Schepel has spent a decent bit of his life attempting to beat the Pioneers.

Schepel is the Pioneers’ new varsity baseball trainer, and what makes this ‘weird’ is that he graduated on from one of EGR’s most outstanding adversaries, Grand Rapids Christian in 2006. He likewise has filled in as an associate coach in the Eagles’ football program for as far back as 12 years.

“I got my first East Grand Rapids hat, and it was a little bit weird putting it on, but I am going to enjoy it,” Schepel said. “I went to Grand Rapids Christian, but I grew up in East Grand Rapids and played Southern Little League. I played and coached against them in football quite a bit.”

“I know the East Grand Rapids program pretty well, and I know it’s a great program and a great community, and I’m excited to put on the blue and gold and become a Pioneer. I’m excited to get going.”

Schepel has supplanted Chris LaMange, who coached the Pioneers for as long as 24 years. LaMange, who is the new baseball coach at Aquinas College, is an individual from the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He guided the Pioneers to 554 vocation wins and the 2009 Division 2 state title.

This denotes Schepel’s first head instructing opportunity. Schepel played baseball at Calvin College and filled in as an associate mentor there from 2014-2017. He was Rockford’s hitting mentor the previous spring.

“We are replacing a very good coach who had a lot of success,” EGR athletic executive Tim Johnston said. “We are very, very confident that Matt will continue those traditions and create some new ones and bring the program to a whole new level. That’s something that’s difficult to do, but he definitely is one we have confidence in.

“We were diligent and took our time and made sure we were solid with our candidate. He checked every box we were looking for. He has great baseball knowledge and an unbelievable work ethic. He has been mentored by some very good coaches and been involved with some outstanding programs. When you put that together with a young person who has a lot of energy, we are confident that he is a great fit for us.”

Schepel graduated on from Calvin with a degree in Kinesiology, and he is a physical coach at MVP Athletic Club. He will assume control over a group that was positioned No. 3 in the state a year ago and won the OK Gold title before being disposed of in the region competition by inevitable state next in line Catholic Central.

“I know they had a great season last year and they return a lot of guys,” Schepel said. “I think we have a chance to have a special season this season.

“But I want the kids to have fun and be the best team that we can be. Wherever that takes us, whether that is an OK Gold championship, district championship, regionals, whatever. I just want to be the best team that we can be and play the best that we can be and whatever happens, happens. If we play to our potential, the wins and losses will take care of themselves.”