Longtime Belleville East baseball coach Todd Blomberg, only the third baseball coach in school history, has resigned.
Blomberg has been wearing a Belleville East baseball uniform even longer since he also was a standout player and assistant coach for the Lancers before taking over the head coaching position.
The 46-year-old Blomberg remains on staff as the Belleville East assistant athletic director and a football assistant coach. He said the additional administrative duties weighed heavily on the decision.
“I knew something would have to give,”Blomberg said. “The nature of being a head coach an the assistant AD job, after being in the position for a couple months now, there’s no way I could give each job the full due and the energy needed. I feel like I have a much broader impact on all sports this way. It certainly wasn’t an easy decision, I love baseball and loved being the head coach.”
It certainly wasn’t an easy decision, I love baseball and loved being the head coach.
Former East baseball coach Todd Blomberg
He replaced Dennis Schutzenhofer in 2001, guiding the Lancers to a state tournament appearance and 29-9 record in 2003. The only other varsity baseball coach at Belleville East was Larry Patton, whose teams won 439 games and made six state tournament appearances from 1967 to 1988.
East also won regional titles in 2003, 2006 and 2013 and never had a losing season during Blomberg’s tenure. Blomberg leaves with a career record of 299 wins and 177 losses.
“Maybe there’s another one hiding in there we missed,” joked Blomberg, who had no idea what his career record was.
East Athletic Director Mark Larsen knew it was an emotional time for Blomberg.
“It’s a tough decision and I know it’s something that pulled at his heartstrings,”Larsen said. “Todd’s done a great job of continuing the tradition here and has been very successful. We hate to be losing him and he’ll be involved in the process of putting the next person in place. Big shoes to fill for whoever gets it.”
Larsen said the coaching vacancy is open now to applicants from District 201, which includes Belleville East and Belleville West.
Among the potential candidates could be longtime East pitching coach Brian Geluck, assistant coach Ryan Wiggs and former baseball assistant and minor-league pitcher Marcus Barriger. Belleville West assistant Kevin Sangiolo may be another potential in-district candidate.
“If we decide there’s good candidates in house we’d hire within, but if there’s a chance we want to look outside we can do that as well,” Larsen said. “With offseason conditioning, we’d like to get somebody in there sooner than later, but we’re going to take our time and try to make the right decision.”
Blomberg always had a soft spot for his former players.
“It’s the relationships you have with the kids after they’re gone,” he said. “That’s something that’s always extremely special to me.”
Asked to recall a favorite game, Blomberg ventured away from any playoff success or Southwestern Conference title victory. He remembered a 2005 win that came after one of the Lancers’ players, Chad Wood, had been killed in an automobile accident.
“Our players decided to play the next day and we were down 4-0 against Granite City,” Blomberg said. “We didn’t have a lot of energy and were very down. The players staged a great comeback and we ended up winning 5-4, so I was really happy with that group. They deserved some joy and some happiness after having to deal with the death of a teammate.”
Blomberg reached the state tourney in only his third year as head coach, but never returned. Ironically, a former college teammate was coaching one of the teams East played at state that year.
“He said ‘Hey you’ll be back, it’s only your third year,’” Blomberg recalled. “I remember everything about that 2003 team and I think about that team often and the success they had, their run through the playoffs.”
The Southwestern Conference has lost three veteran baseball coaches in recent years with the resignation of Blomberg, former Belleville West coach Lee Meyer and Granite City’s John Moad. It’s a tight, competitive group that thrives on success.
“I know one of the biggest things I’ll miss is the camaraderie with the coaches,” Blomberg said. “We’re very competitive during the games, but there’s not a guy out there that wouldn’t help you if you needed it.”