It was a reunion on Monday night when University of Maine baseball coach Nick Derba exchanged lineup cards with his former college coach at Manhattan and his mentor at UMaine, Steve Trimper, who is the head coach at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida.
The teams will conclude their two-game series on Tuesday night. This series is the first time the two coaches have faced each other.
Derba was recruited by Trimper and played two years under him at Manhattan before Trimper left for UMaine. Trimper eventually hired him as a UMaine assistant and Derba succeeded him first as interim coach in 2017 and then the full-time head coach after that season.
“I’ll be a little emotional about it but when we turn around and go back to our respective dugouts, we’ve got to win the game,” said Trimper, who spent 11 seasons at UMaine and compiled a record of 309-292-2, including a 140-115 mark against America East teams.
“It’s going to be fun. But once the game starts, it’s going to be Maine against Stetson, not Maine against Steve Trimper,” Derba said. “It’s going to be like coaching against anybody else.”
Derba was a catcher at Manhattan and was inducted into the Manhattan College Sports Hall of Fame. He went on to play six seasons of professional ball and reached the Triple-A level in the St. Louis Cardinals organization.
“He is a leader,” Trimper said. “I always built my recruiting class around the catcher. You have to have a good catcher. Nick was an unbelievable catcher.”
Derba said Trimper is responsible for much of his career, calling him the reason he went to Manhattan and the catalyst for getting him to Orono.
“He has given me tons of advice. He has been a mentor and he has also been there for me personally as well. We’re good friends,” Derba said.
Trimper has always kept tabs on the University of Maine’s teams. His twin daughters, Morgan and Ally, play for the UMaine’s women’s ice hockey team.
“I obviously want to win our games against them but I want to see Maine be successful each and every year. I would like Nick to win the America East Tournament and go on to the NCAA Tournament,” Trimper said.
Stetson brought a 10-5 record into Monday’s game while UMaine was 3-9.
“Stetson is a really good team in a very good conference [ASUN],” Derba said. “It is going to be a good test for us.”
Following the Stetson series, UMaine opens America East play with single games at Binghamton on Friday (3 p.m.), Saturday (1 p.m.) and Sunday (noon).