Greg Bozzo, Rush Ehrhart, Matt Gluck, Ben Iervolino and Gavin Stellpflug are the very worthy recipients of Diamond Nation’s 2019 Kevin Gilbert Scholarship.
The quintet of high school seniors are longtime Diamond Jacks who met the scholarship committee’s stringent academic, athletic and character requirements and had to complete an essay as part of the application.
Kevin Gilbert was a remarkably talented baseball player and a leader among his peers in the Diamond Jacks program. Gilbert died in an automobile accident shortly before the start of his senior baseball season at Hunterdon Central High School in 2011. Flemington-based Diamond Nation began the scholarship fund that year to honor the memory of a player and person it deemed the prototype of what a Diamond Jack should strive to be.
“Kevin exemplified all the qualities we expect from the student-athletes in our Diamond Jacks program,” said Diamond Nation General Manager Nick Massari. “Our scholarship is in honor of one of our own who sadly passed away on March 12, 2011. The 2019 class meets all of the qualities Kevin Gilbert put forth every day as a Diamond Jack.”
Nine specifics boxes had to be checked by the committee for a scholarship candidate to meet the Kevin Gilbert standard. They include; being a great teammate, always hustling, playing the game the way it should be played, showing leadership on and off the field, performing well in the classroom, working hard even when no one is watching, winning and losing with class, is a person of integrity, and has fun playing the great game of baseball.
Gilbert penned an essay for one of his high school classes just four days before his death and that essay reveals much about his love for the game of baseball. In the essay, he quoted Mike Nalepa’s take on the game.
“There is a soothing rhythm to it all, pitch-by-pitch, inning-by-inning. Baseball is a world of order, interrupted by brief, breathtaking moments of chaos, where memories and heroes can be made. It has unlimited potential. It can be ugly one moment and beautiful the next. It is part play, part profanity, and part poetry. And really, what is more American than that?”
Each scholarship recipient received $2,000 to use toward college tuition and/or other expenses incurred for higher education.
Kevin Gilbert Scholarship recipients.
Greg is a 5-11, 185-pound senior catcher at Ridge High School and a member of the Diamond Jacks Super 17U squad. Greg committed to LaSalle in the fall of 2018. He began playing for the Diamond Jacks as a 12 year-old and his six seasons at the Flemington facility reveals a dedicated, hard working player and outstanding leader behind the plate.
Greg helped lead his Ridge team to an 18-10 record last spring and berths in both the Somerset County Tournament and NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 championship games.
Rush is a 5-9, 175-pound senior outfielder at North Hunterdon High School and the Diamond Jacks Gold 17U team. Rush has committed to Gettysburg College. Rush began playing for Diamond Jacks at the 13U level.
“Rush has all the qualities that exemplify what it means to be a Diamond Jack,” says Diamond Jacks coach and recruiting coordinator Steve DiTrolio. “He has really put in the work to become a college baseball player. I’m excited to see him continue to grow as a baseball player.”
Matt is a 5-7, 160-pound senior outfielder at West Morris High School in Long Valley. Matt has committed to Franklin & Marshall. He was a critical sparkplug at third base and a reliable No. 2 hitter in helping guide West Morris to its first sectional championship and NJSIAA group final berth last spring.
Matt has been a Diamond Jacks since the 10U level and played for the Diamond Jacks Super 17U squad this past summer. He has made a name for himself in the program and around the state as a relentless, high-energy competitor who is as well-rounded a player as they come.
Ben is a 5-10, 170-pound left-handed pitcher from Hunterdon Central High School in Flemington. He’s committed to Mount St. Mary University in Maryland. Ben was part of Hunterdon Central’s pitching staff the past three years, including the 2018 squad that won the NJSIAA Group 4 championship. Ben is expected to be at the front of another strong Hunterdon Central pitching staff.
Iervolino had a strong summer with the Diamond Jacks Super 17U team guided by coach Kevin Cust.
Gavin is a 6-5, 210-pound right-handed pitcher for Somerville High School and the Diamond Jacks Super 17U team. Gavin committed to University of Maryland in September of 2018 and attributed that to the excellent exposure he experienced at Diamond Nation’s Underclass Games the previous June.
Stellpflug had a strong summer with the Diamond Jacks Super 17U squad and is expected to take the reins as Somerville’s ace this coming spring.