East alum hopes to lead Israel to an Olympics baseball win


Courtesy of Nate Mulberg ('10)

Nate Mulberg (’10) assumes a batter’s stance as he comes to the plate for the East Cougars.

Nate Mulberg (‘10) was never the average high school student. He excelled in baseball, ran cross country, wrote for Eastside and ultimately, was recruited to play baseball for the University of Rochester. So, it was not surprising when Mulberg was offered an opportunity of a lifetime— to coach the Israeli National Baseball team, Team Israel.
Team Israel achieved the unthinkable: going 4-1 at the Olympic Qualifier in Italy which secured them a spot to play in the 2020 Olympic Games. After years of playing and coaching college baseball, Mulberg will live out a forever dream of his, as he heads to Tokyo in July to coach Team Israel in the 2020 Olympics.
At East, Mulberg played on the Freshman Baseball team for one year and the Varsity Baseball Team for the next three years. Mulberg also ran Cross Country for two years. Not only did Mulberg play multiple sports, but he was also involved as an Eastside Sports Editor, and a member of Cum Laude Society and the FOP Holiday Party. He was later inducted into the East Hall of Fame.
The culmination of Mulberg’s achievements, leadership, and involvement at East combined with hard work and many years of baseball paid off when Mulberg was recruited to play college baseball.
Mulberg said, “I was recruited by a bunch of Division III schools, but I chose University of Rochester because I really liked the fit and connected with the head coach. I liked the kids on the team and the school [itself]. Rochester is also known for being a highly academic school with a very structured and driven sports program.”
At Rochester, Mulberg started at shortstop for all four years. He ranked in the top ten in school history in sacrifice hits, assists, double plays turned and most times hit by a pitch. He was a two-time CoSIDA (College Sports Information Directors of America) First Team Academic All-District pick, and was named to the Liberty League/UAA All-Academic team three times. Mulberg was honored by the Rochester Athletic Department with the John Vitone Sportsmanship Award in 2014. In his final season as a Rochester Yellow Jacket, Mulberg batted .359, and was awarded Liberty League All-Tournament honors, and finished as the sixth toughest batter to strike out in Division III.
“I was very realistic about my abilities which helped me [in the long run]. It was evident that I was not good enough for that level of baseball, which is exactly what motivated me into coaching. I wanted to work with kids and teach them about life through the game,” said Mulberg.
After college, he decided to do whatever it took to become the best college baseball coach he could be. On his own journey of becoming a coach, he always kept in mind his past coaches, especially Coach David Martin who was the Head Coach of East Baseball at that time.
In 2015, Mulberg began his coaching career at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and continued with the Bucknell Bisons in 2016. Currently, Mulberg is an assistant coach for the University of Richmond Spiders and one of the assistant coaches of the Israeli National Baseball Team. At University of Richmond, Mulberg is the Assistant Baseball Coach and Recruiting Coordinator. He travels all around the country, from Tennessee to California, looking for the best high school players he can catch. As a matter of fact, Mulberg has recruited many players from the South Jersey area, including two 2020 graduates, Chase Conklin (‘20), a shortstop from Bishop Eustace, and Josh Willitts (‘20), a pitcher from Seneca, are committed to playing baseball for the Richmond Spiders next year.
In his short time coaching at Bucknell, Mulberg developed a connection with Eric Holtz through Holtz’s son, Jordan, which greatly helped his landing the coaching position for the Israeli National Baseball team. Mulberg coached at Bucknell a few years after Jordan Holtz had graduated, but they still managed to keep in touch and helped each other out when they get the chance.
Around the time when Holtz was selected as Team Israel’s manager, Mulberg and Holtz had a conversation where Mulberg made a key recommendation: Jon de Marte for a spot on the team. de Marte was currently one of Mulberg’s athletes and a talented pitcher at the University of Richmond.
After graduating college, de Marte was placed on the Israeli National Baseball team and deemed a huge asset. According to Mulberg, the team would not have made it as far as they did without de Marte’s stellar pitching. He was one of Team Israel’s top pitching standouts, and when it really mattered, de Marte rose above the rest. He lead his team to victory by pitching nine shutout innings. de Marte was so thankful that Mulberg got him the position on Team Israel, that ultimately, he returned the favor.
The word on the street was that Team Israel needed a new coach. After Team Israel went a perfect 6-0 at the European Championships in early July, in Bulgaria, de Marte recommended Mulberg to Holtz.
Holtz loved the idea and thought Mulberg would be the perfect fit. Mulberg helped lead Team Israel to success and was greatly appreciated by his co-coaches and his athletes. For Team Israel, Mulberg coaches first base, warms up the players pregame by throwing them ground balls, and helps with overall administrative duties.
Unlike most coach and player relationships, Mulberg and his athletes are similar in age which creates a unique dynamic.
“Some players were younger than me and several players were older than me… For the older players, I tried not telling them what to do. They have been playing baseball for a long time and they know just as much, if not more than I do. [When coaching them], I try to suggest things that I want them to fix,” said Mulberg.
Mulberg will be entering his sixth year of coaching and has one big regret.
He said, “If I could do it all again, I would not take the game so seriously. I was always so hard on myself. The best players are the ones that can let things go and never get too upset when things go badly.”
While his true passion has always been, and will always be, baseball, he originally considered careers in sports journalism, sports broadcasting or even becoming a teacher.
His love of the game has brought him great fulfillment and happiness, however, his career choice, so far, has not been so lucrative. His first coaching job at Franklin & Marshall earned him very low pay in return for working 70 hours a week. His next job at Bucknell was voluntary— he received no pay at all. Mulberg’s hard work eventually paid off when he was offered a full-time, paid coaching position at Richmond.
Mulberg has a strong commitment to his baseball players and acquires the desire to help them and to see them succeed.
Matt Mezansky, a former player from Franklin & Marshall said, “Coach Mulberg is very reliable. He would be there for me to hit me grounders, throw batting pitches or just to talk. It didn’t matter what time, for how long or what was going on in the world.”
Mulberg credits much of his baseball career to Cherry Hill East Baseball and his coaches that supported him. During the four years he spent on the Freshman and Varsity Baseball Teams, he was continuously inspired by his coaches, Mr. Jason Speller, Mr. Eric Radbill, and Mr. David Martin.
“If I hadn’t developed as much as I did at East, I would not have played in college, and I would not be a college coach,” said Mulberg.
Not only did Mulberg love his East coaches, but Mulberg’s coaches also adored him. Speller said, “Nate was an instant leader and was always on time. He tried to make the team better and did everything we asked him to do. The other players all followed Nate because he had such a natural ability to lead.”
In addition to the coaches, many of Mulberg’s teachers also left a lasting impact on Mulberg and his career. A few of these teachers include Mr. Gregory Gagliardi and Mr. Joseph Dilks.
Dilks, one of Mulberg’s math teachers, said, “I am not surprised that Nate has found this kind of success in his future because he always had a strong passion for baseball and the desire to do well in life.”
Nate Mulberg has accomplished a lot in his 28 years, but interestingly, he has never hit a home run. While frustrating, he did not let that get in his way. If anything, it made him work harder.
“I got to where I am today simply because of my love of the game and how important it has always been to me… I always worked hard to [excel] at baseball,” said Mulberg.
Mulberg continues to aspire to be a D1 Head Baseball Coach, but winning the gold at the 2020 Olympic games would be a home run.