Semones, Rubenstein new baseball, softball head coaches at Central

Sean Semones

WOODSTOCK — Sean Semones got one of the best birthday presents he could have asked for this year.

The 2012 Central graduate received a phone call from Central athletic director Kenny Rinker on Semones’s 24th birthday, Feb. 2, that he was hired as the new head baseball coach at Central.

“February 2 was a big day for me,” Semones said before the varsity team’s first practice of the season Monday. “I turned 24 and then I got the call from Mr. Rinker, the AD, that I got the job. …I’ve always had my foot in the door here. I know all the faces of the faculty and the staff. It’s awesome being a part of Central. I’ve been a part of it since 2008. I definitely bleed blue. I feel home and I feel welcome here.”

Sue Rubenstein is another new head coach this spring at Central. She was named the new head softball coach last month. Rubenstein was the head softball coach at Stonewall Jackson for the last four years.

Rubenstein, who is a junior ROTC instructor at Massanutten Military Academy, said that when she heard the job was open, she felt like it was too good to pass up.

Sue Rubenstein

“It’s nice and close to home,” Rubenstein said after Central’s first softball practice Monday. “I loved Stonewall. I loved my kids, loved the administration. But it was time for me to get a little closer to home. This is a good program, well established.”

Semones is taking over for longtime coach Donn Foltz, who resigned in December. Semones, who was a three-sport standout at Central, was the head junior varsity baseball coach the last two years.

He said he will be coaching many of the same players this season as he did the last two years as players move up from JV to varsity.

“We had 10-plus wins both years,” Semones said. “It was successful. The kids listened. We had a lot of fun and we won ballgames, and its fun when you win.”

Semones said he plans on doing some clinics over the summer and he wants to build the program up, starting with the Little League programs.

“I want to teach the coaches in Little League how to coach, because the players need to know the proper mechanics,” Semones said. “I want to lead them all the way up through Little League and the big league in Maurertown and then the JV level.”

Rinker said Semones’s experience with the JV team was one thing that helped Central decide to name him the varsity coach.

“He’s a very personable person,” Rinker said. “Obviously, he came through our system. He had the opportunity to play at the next level in two sports. We know what kind of an athlete he was here. And the other thing we knew was how good of a job he’d done with our JV’s. Usually taking a bunch of kids that were green and somewhere before a third of the season was over he had jelled them into pretty decent baseball players.”

Justin McIlwee, a Sherando graduate, is the JV head coach. Right now they are the only two paid assistant coaches on the baseball staff. Rinker said he hoped to fill the third assistant spot soon.

Semones said that he has numerous people, including his brother Eric, who have said they will volunteer and help out with the team.

Rubenstein is taking over for Lisa Rhodes, who resigned after the end of last season. The Falcons lost in the Group 2A softball state championship game, 2-1, to Lebanon in 16 innings.

“I’m very excited, very happy,” Rubenstein said. “Lisa is a great person. I worked at Peter Muhlenberg (Middle School) a little bit, got to know (assistant coach) Mike (Hunt) and Lisa (Rhodes) a little bit. The program inspired me and I’m just really grateful to be given the opportunity to take it from where it’s at and allow it to hopefully get to that next level that they just came a little shy of.”

Rubenstein said that she had 33 players out for the varsity and junior varsity combined on the first day and was happy with how it went.

Rubenstein, played four years of college softball at Keane University in Union, New Jersey. She said they were ranked in the top five in the country when she was there and she played in the outfield and was a relief pitcher.

Stonewall Jackson hired Ashley Dick to replace Rubenstein. The Generals have struggled to pick up wins over the last five years.

Rinker said even though Stonewall Jackson didn’t have a lot of wins while Rubenstein was there, he thought she did a fine job as head coach there.

“It’s not all about the wins and losses,” Rinker said. “It’s about you take what you have and what you do with it. That’s one of the things that impressed me about her was her ability to take kids and make something out of them and do things the right way.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com