CLASS OF 2019: Multi-sport star Josh Roenicke to be inducted into Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame
Whether he was on the baseball diamond, basketball court or football field, Josh Roenicke was making jaw-dropping plays and leading teams to victory with his athletic ability, skill and competitiveness.
“He’s a tremendous athlete and a tremendous competitor,” said Dave Humphers, who coached Roenicke in football at Nevada Union. “He was an unbelievable quarterback. I still remember a play against Del Campo where he scrambled around in the back field, lost about 20 yards, nobody could tackle him and he throws the ball the length of the field and hit Jefferson (Heidelberger) for a touchdown. It had everybody gasping and saying, ‘what the heck did I just see.’”
When it came to football Roenicke was a standout on both sides of the ball. As a defensive back he snagged 12 career interceptions, which ranks second in Nevada Union school history. He was an All-League First Team selection on defense his junior year.
In his senior season, Roenicke took over as the starting quarterback and threw for an NU single-season record 26 touchdowns and 1,902 yards which ranks third all-time. He was the league MVP that year and led the Miners to their second straight Capital Athletic League title as well as a spot in the City Championship Game.
“Josh was always one of the fastest and quickest out there,” said Heidelberger. “He was a joy to be around. He was always competitive and always egging people on, and always driving himself to that next level. He made a lot of us better.”
On the basketball court Roenicke was a two-year varsity starter, a lock down defender and talented scorer.
“He was an absolute team player,” said Ryan Curry, who coached Roenicke during his time on the Miners basketball team. “He was one of those kids who did whatever was needed to be done to win. He wasn’t obsessed with scoring, but could score and did score. But, he always wanted to guard the toughest player on the other team. It was all about winning. He just wanted to win basketball games.”
In baseball, Roenicke was an outstanding outfielder and a force at the plate.
“He was an amazing centerfielder,” said Josh Van Matre, who played on multiple teams with Roenicke at Nevada Union. “His range was from left field to right field, and he had a cannon.”
For Roenicke’s many accomplishments with the Miners and beyond, he is being inducted into the Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame April 27.
“It’s definitely an honor,” Roenicke said. “Some of the best memories of my life were at Nevada Union and I really appreciate the recognition from the committee.”
Sports were always a major component of Roenicke’s life growing up and by the time he was competing at Nevada Union he was one of the best athletes not only at the school but in the entire region.
“Sports to me, starting from a young age, were as important as anything,” he said. “And, I really started coming into my own in high school as I matured physically and really started taking them serious because I could see the next level beyond high school.
“I just think for kids to be a part of a team and work together with their peers for a common goal is very important. As well as recognizing your coach as an authority figure and be OK with getting told what to do and having to do it.”
Roenicke cites competing in city championships in basketball and football as well as playing in Wyoming in the Gillette Classic both years of varsity basketball as some of his favorite on-the-field moments, but what stands out the most is the time he spent off the field with his teammates.
“The get-togethers at houses with our group of friends will always be some of my favorite memories,” he said. “Being such a small town we had a close group of friends and just enjoyed being around each other and having some fun.”
LIFE AFTER NU
After graduating from Nevada Union in 2001, Roenicke made his way to the University of California, Los Angeles where he walked on to the football team and became a wide receiver. After a year at UCLA, Roenicke walked on to the baseball team, becoming a dual sport athlete for the Bruins. He would go on to play three years on the football team and four with the baseball team.
Roenicke was a regular starter in centerfield by his junior season and while he started 42 games in the outfield his senior season, he also got the chance to pitch. He appeared in 16 games, led the team in saves and had a 3.46 ERA. He only pitched 13 total innings that season, but had made an impression on pro scouts and was projected to be selected in the 2006 MLB draft. Even then, Roenicke wasn’t sure baseball was going to be a career path.
Pro baseball became a reality when he was selected in the 10th round by the Cincinnati Reds.
“That was the first time in my life that I was able to focus not only on just one sport, but one position,” he said. “I knew that being able to put all my focus and ability into pitching that I could be successful at the professional level.”
From there he began what has become a more than a decade-long career as a professional pitcher. After being drafted, he quickly worked his way into the Majors and had stints with the Reds, Toronto Blue Jays, Colorado Rockies and Minnesota Twins from 2008-2013.
In 2012, while with the Rockies, Roenicke led the MLB in relief innings pitched. Across his six years in the Majors, Roenicke appeared in 190 games, pitched 220 innings and struck out 168 batters.
From 2014-16, Roenicke bounced around multiple minor league teams in the United States before heading to the Mexican pro league in 2017. A year later, Roenicke made his way to Taiwan to compete in the Chinese Professional Baseball League with the Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions, also known as the UniLions. As a starting pitcher for the UniLions, Roenicke shined.
The 6-foot, 3-inch righty won the league’s ERA title (3.17), earned a Gold Glove and was chosen as an All-Star in 2018. Now in his second season with the UniLions, Roenicke continues to be a force on the bump.
FAMILY AND FAITH
Roenicke credits his father Gary Roenicke, a former pro baseball player, along with his mother Debby and brothers Jarett Roenicke and Jason Roenicke for helping him become the athlete he is today.
“My dad was definitely a big part of who I became as an athlete. He encouraged me to play whichever sports I wanted and that’s exactly what I did,” Josh said. “Growing up with my brothers Jarett and Jason was also very important. We were very competitive and always had each other to compete with basically every day which allowed us to improve in anything we played.
“My mother was also a tremendous part of my upbringing in sports because she was raising us alone a lot of the time while my dad was playing or scouting. So a lot of the opportunities I had in sports growing up were because of her.”
Roenicke added there are many who deserve to be acknowledged for helping him achieve what he has in professional sports and life.
“Most importantly I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He has been a part of my life since I was 6 years old and we have only grown closer since then. He has allowed all of this to happen by blessing me with my abilities and has always kept me healthy. I want to thank my parents for raising us three boys in the best way possible and giving me the opportunity to do what I love. All my life-long friends from Nevada County, which a few of them are on this list along side me. My high school coaches who instilled plenty of important values to an immature teenager.
“And, lastly my children for their support and my wonderful wife Nikki who has been with me from the very beginning of my professional career. She has sacrificed a lot these last few years allowing me to leave and play internationally while she takes care of our children.”
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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