Pedro Hernandez once played on the Southwestern Community College baseball field as a member of the Indian Hills Community College squad.
Now, he returns to coach the Spartans.
Bill Krejci, SWCC athletic director, announced late last week that Hernandez, an Ellsworth Community College assistant coach the past two years, will succeed Brian Smith as head coach of the Spartan baseball program.
“I know the league, I’ve been in it four years now,” said Hernandez, a Puerto Rico native who played two years at Indian Hills in Centerville before playing at Iowa Wesleyan College. “I played against Southwestern when they were part of the Division I conference. I have knowledge of the league, what type of athlete it takes to get the program in a good position and compete against the elite teams in the conference.”
The past two seasons Hernandez has worked under former SWCC assistant Nate Forsyth, and then Travis Akre last year when Forsyth became the school’s new athletic director.
Hernandez began his college playing career at Indian Hills in 2007, and played for coach Brett Monaghan at Iowa Wesleyan during the 2009 and 2010 seasons, earning all-conference honorable mention in 2010. Brett Monaghan is the son of Al Monaghan of Creston, and had been an assistant at Indian Hills in recent years before taking an administrative position.
Hernandez ranks eighth in home runs in school history for the Iowa Wesleyan Tigers.
After his playing career and getting his bachelor’s degree at Iowa Wesleyan, Hernandez gained his master’s degree in kinesiology from Dallas Baptist University.
His coaching experience also includes a season with Team Puerto Rico Baseball AAU 18U in 2009.
He became strength and conditioning coach for the Auburn (N.Y.) Doubledays in the Washington Nationals minor league system, helping the Doubledays win the Pinckney Division in the 2011 season.
After one season in Auburn, Hernandez joined the Ellsworth staff in Iowa Falls. The SWCC position will be his first as a head coach.
“I am very excited to be joining the SWCC family,” Hernandez said. “I would like to thank Bill Krejci and the rest of the SWCC administration for the opportunity to lead their baseball program. I am going to work hard to build a program that not only SWCC will be proud of, but the community as well.”
Hernandez is beginning his recruiting immediately. At the present time, assistant Steve Westphal plans to keep that position for coaching and field maintenance, and Hernandez may pursue a second assistant coach to join his staff.
“In recruiting, I will try to get all I can from southwest Iowa, from Des Moines to Omaha, and make sure those schools are recruited well,” Hernandez said. “With my background, I will also work in Puerto Rico and internationally, to bring in a good mix of both. At the end of the day, we want quality young athletes who are good ballplayers and good students who want to pursue a degree.”
In addition to his coaching duties, Hernandez will be a residence hall coordinator for SWCC’s student housing department. At Ellsworth, he was a TRIO (Student Support Services) coordinator since 2012.
A native of Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, Hernandez is married to Andrea Rivera Rojas and they are the parents of a 3-month-old son, Gustavo.