Mel Kepner sees the Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School baseball program as one with a very high ceiling.
In his first season as the Marauders' new coach, Kepner, 49, will be hoping to help the program tap into that tremendous potential.
"I'm grateful for the opportunity,'' said Kepner, who was recently appointed as the Marauders' baseball coach. "I'm looking forward to doing the type of job and building the type of baseball program that the entire Bishop Guilfoyle athletic program can be proud of.''
BG made it to the District 6-A championship game and the first round of the PIAA Class A state playoffs in 2012, and Kepner is hoping that he can get the Marauders to that point, or further, in the future.
"I think that BG has incredible potential, especially as a baseball school,'' said Kepner, a 1982 Altoona Area High School graduate who is taking on his first high school job, but who has had extensive coaching experience with both the Altoona Curve Junior travel baseball team, and with the offseason junior baseball training academy for area players between the ages of 13-18. "There are great kids coming up through the Catholic school elementary grades, and there is an incredible opportunity for the [varsity] baseball program to grow.''
Kepner has a vested interest in the BG program. His wife, Catherine, is a teacher at St. Rose of Lima Parochial School in Altoona. The Kepners have a 21-year-old daughter, Anna, and a 17-year-old son, Ben.
"My wife teaches at St. Rose of Lima, and our family is a part of the [Altoona-Johnstown Catholic] Diocese,'' said Kepner, a former Altoona Teener League and Logan Township Little League coach who is employed as the business owner of Grandview Meats in Altoona. "Bishop Guilfoyle has a tremendous commitment to all of its athletic programs. I'm familiar with a lot of kids coming up through the system, and I think they're poised to put together a real strong baseball program.''
Bishop Guilfoyle Athletic Director Mike Cacciotti thinks that Kepner will be an excellent fit with the Marauders' baseball program.
"We're happy to get him,'' Cacciotti said. "He's coached at all the different levels from Little League through high school, and he has great connections with college baseball coaches and scouts. I'm real happy with the experience that he's bringing in. He and I are on the same page as to what we want to accomplish with the baseball program.''
Among Kepner's goals is to develop a junior high school baseball program at BG.
"I think that BG has the ability to put together a competitive junior high school baseball program, and I would love to get it going this first year, if possible,'' Kepner said.
Whether at the varsity or the junior high school level, Kepner wants the players to develop on and off the field.
"I want the players to love and respect the game of baseball, and to grow as people and to grow as Catholics,'' Kepner said.