Month: September 2023

Pioneers name Sharkey to Head Coach position

The Western Nebraska Pioneers announced the hiring of Shane Sharkey as the team’s Head Coach for the 2024 season. Sharkey becomes the fifth coach in Pioneers history.

“Mayra and I interviewed a number of very well-qualified potential coaches over the last few weeks,” Pioneers owner Chuck Heeman said. “Shane stood out as someone not only with on-field and recruiting experience, but experience in leading young men on and off the field. His success at Nebraska-Kearney, Dallas-Brookhaven and as a player gives him the kind of background we’ve been looking for and we feel fortunate to be working with him.”

Sharkey started his college coaching career in 2016-17 as assistant coach at his alma mater Nebraska-Kearney for one season before the school dropped its baseball program. He was then named assistant baseball coach at his junior college alma mater, Dallas College-Brookhaven in 2018. He served as an assistant coach on the 2021 team that was ranked fourth in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division III rankings, and won the Dallas Athletic Conference. He coached on the 2019 team that reached the NJCAA DIII World Series. 

As a player, Sharkey was a member of the 2013 Dallas-Brookhaven team that reached the NJCAA DIII World Series, earning All-American honors at second base. He finished his college career at Kearney, then played professional independent baseball in the Pecos League. He was named an All-Star his rookie season and helped his team win the league championship. 

“I’m really excited and thankful for this opportunity,” Sharkey said. “I can’t wait to get to Gering and be back in the great state of Nebraska coaching college baseball. I’ve heard great things about this team, league and fan base. I can’t wait to help it grow and win games. God bless.”

Sharkey is recently married to his wife Becca and has a baby girl on the way.

Check out the latest blog entry from the Foxes!

Ft. Collins Foxes revived and ready to go for 2024

The Fort Collins Foxes, a beloved summer baseball team deeply ingrained in the Fort Collins community since 2005, is proud to announce its acquisition by the Munsch Family. This new ownership promises to usher in a bright new era for the team, with a strong focus on community and a shared passion for both business and baseball.

The Munsch Family’s journey in Fort Collins began in the late 1990s when they relocated their corporate office and manufacturing facility of Loomix, a renowned animal nutrition supplement company, to Northern Colorado. Their love for animals and the region led them to establish another animal-focused enterprise, “The Dog Pawlour,” which has been in Northern Colorado since 2014. In 2015, the Munsch Family further demonstrated their commitment to Northern Colorado by bringing PetDine, a pet treat manufacturer, from California to Fort Collins. This move enriched the local economy with new jobs and opportunities.

The Munsch Family’s enthusiasm for sports, particularly in Colorado, is well-established. As long-time Ram Club members and dedicated season ticket holders of the Colorado Rockies for over 25 seasons, they have shown unwavering support for the local sports community.

Kurt Colicchio, the visionary behind the Fort Collins Foxes since its inception, expressed his excitement for the team’s next chapter under the Munsch Family’s leadership: “I am grateful to all the players, coaches, sponsors, and, of course, all our fans over the years. I know the Munsch Family will take care of everyone going forward and make the Foxes even better.”

Preston Munsch, President of the baseball club, shared his vision for the team’s future: “We are thrilled to embark on the next chapter of Foxes baseball. Our aim is to apply the same passion and success we have achieved with our other ventures and bring that energy to the Foxes. We are committed to elevating the baseball experience and overall value for our fans, players, and community.”

Beyond the short summer season, the Munsch Family believes in active community involvement throughout the year. While the Foxes did not play during the 2023 summer season, they are focused on preparing for an extraordinary 2024 season, filled with thrilling experiences for fans and meaningful connections with the community.

As they prepare for the 2024 season, the team is proud to announce the appointment of Rochelle Reynolds as the General Manager. A dedicated and long-time Fort Collins resident, Rochelle brings an unparalleled understanding of the community and its passion for baseball. From her childhood days watching baseball as a young girl to now spending her summers cheering on her son at his own baseball games, Rochelle’s deep-rooted love for the sport and her ties to the area make her an invaluable addition to the Foxes family. With Rochelle’s guidance, the team looks forward to forging even stronger connections with the community and delivering an exceptional baseball experience for fans and players alike.

Western Nebraska Pioneers enter RMBL

The Western Nebraska Pioneers announced that the team is joining the Rocky Mountain Baseball League effective immediately. The Rocky Mountain League has been in operation for more than 25 years and consists of teams in Colorado, Kansas and now Nebraska, with the addition of the Pioneers.

Following a meeting on August 28 and a vote by current RMBL members, the Pioneers were granted admission along with the Ft. Collins Foxes, bringing the league to eight members. The RMBL returns six teams; the Liberal (Kansas) Bee-Jays, Hays (Kansas) Larks, Dodge City (Kansas) A’s, Colorado (Wheat Ridge) Roughriders, Game Day Angels (Parker, CO) and Denver Cougars.

“Pioneers fans will see a lot of familiar names here, as we played all the returning RMBL teams this summer,” Pioneers owners Mayra and Chuck Heeman said. “We explored a couple league possibilities, and the RMBL looks like the right fit for us. Adding Ft. Collins helped make our decision as the Foxes will make a great travel partner and rival for us for years to come.”

The Pioneers played the 2023 season as an independent team, not in a formal league, which led to some scheduling hiccups and other challenges that also made joining the RMBL the best option.

“We know our fans grew frustrated as we got a feel for what teams we could count on as we searched for the right fit in a league – believe us, we had our frustrations as well,” the Heemans said. “Sometimes you have to take one step back to take two steps forward, and we feel we’ve done that and achieved some stability that wasn’t always there in 2023. We are already building the 2024 schedule and moving forward to another successful Pioneers season. We are signing players and our search for a Head Coach is coming to fruition, so we’re deep into the 2024 season already.”

The Rocky Mountain League plays a 28-game league schedule and each team plays approximately 54 total games, mixing in non-league teams and additional non-league games against RMBL teams. The Pioneers plan to play 54 games in 2024 with 36 at the team’s home field, Oregon Trail Park Stadium in Gering.

“The RMBL league structure is such that each team doesn’t have to play the same number of home and road games,” the Heemans said. “We found this summer that the teams that came to Gering loved the experience, and we’re more than happy to play more games at home in front of the best fans in summer baseball.”