Staying in good baseball shape during the offseason can be tough without a plan. California Warriors Director of Baseball Operations Ryan Burke (also a coach at College of Marin) has put together a 4-week long program to regain arm strength so you can hit the ground running when spring comes along.
A great group of student athletes showed up to play for the California Warriors Winter Baseball Program this past Saturday. Our players came from 15 different high schools from around the Bay Area. The first week was a time to meet one another and begin to form a team. Everyone brought with them a love of the game and desire to play hard and to learn more about their positions. It is an eclectic group of ages and skill levels. Coach Burke did an excellent job of managing new players and evaluating their strengths. In two hours he was able to rotate all players into the game so everyone had a chance to play. Sergio Mendoza was in the dugout sharing his baseball wisdom and positive personality as he was an invaluable volunteer this past summer.
Visit our Flickr account to see all Winter Ball photos.
The California Warriors would like to congratulate their three players who signed Division 1 National Letters of Intent last week to continue their academic and athletic careers. Matthew Calhoun (Santa Clara University), Martin Cole (Niagara University) and Dylan Pottsgeiser (University of Pacific) all earned baseball scholarships while being noticed playing for the California Warriors 17u Elite team this past summer.
Calhoun, who led Archbishop Riordan HS team as a junior in batting average (.321), hits (27), and stolen bases (14), was the primary short stop for 17u Elite over the summer. What caught the eyes of scouts most was his exceptional defense and energy he brought to the game. Calhoun also impressed producing runs in the middle of the order and creating runs on the bases with his speed. Calhoun’s tools will give him a good chance to earn playing time as a freshman at Santa Clara next year.
As a junior at Sacred Heart Prep, Cole was both dominant on the mound (6-2, 2.68 ERA) as he was at the plate and in the field. Throughout the summer Cole played all four infield spots while also helping on the mound and hitting at the top of the order. Cole’s left handed bat stood out all summer as he was consistently on base and driving in runs. Cole will be an instant contributor when he joins the Niagara Purple Eagles team in 2018.
Pottgeiser of Foothill HS threw to a 2.99 ERA as a junior and joined up with 17u Elite halfway into the summer. His best start of the summer came at the Phil Singer Summer Series when he turned in a complete game shutout dominating performance. Pottsegeiser will look to be an instant impact in the Pacific Tigers pitching staff when he arrives next fall.
Congratulations to California Warriors alum, O’Koyea Dickson, on his first MLB hit – a single off of San Francisco Giants ace, Madison Bumgarner! O’Koyea’s hard work and determination have paid off, and we are excited to watch him to play at the highest level!
We are excited and proud to announce that after several seasons as a California Warriors player and coach, tenures at College of San Mateo and Sonoma State, and nearly seven complete seasons in the Minor Leagues, California Warriors alum O’Koyea Dickson’s hard work has paid off and he has taken the field at the highest level for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Hunter’s Point (San Francisco) native came to the California Warriors as the first full-scholarship player in the program, and wasted no time making it clear that he deserved that honor. During each summer playing for the California Warriors, O’Koyea’s diligence, work ethic, drive, and focus allowed him to elevate his game to the point where took advantage of the opportunity to play in front of college coaches and worked his way into a college program. Eventually O’Koyea attracted the notice of the Los Angeles Dodgers (who drafted him in the 12th round of the 2011 MLB Draft), a dream that was made into a reality in part by the California Warriors & First Base Foundation mentorship and support system:
“I was the only person in my family to go to college, and I am blessed that (First Base Foundation & California Warriors Founder) Noah and the California Warriors pushed me to work harder and reach higher. I’m a successful and educated student athlete now, and it all began with the California Warriors.”
– O’Koyea Dickson
While O’Koyea has always been gifted with a veritable well of raw athletic talent, the attributes that allowed him to fight his way to the top are learned ones rather than inherent. As a member of the California Warriors family who received financial assistance from the First Base Foundation in order to participate on the teams, O’Koyea has embodied everything our foundation strives for. He took full advantage of the opportunity provided to him, working hard to improve his game and empower himself on and off the field, focusing on developing his leadership qualities, and learning to set achievable goals in pursuit of a greater objective.
In contributing to the First Base Foundation, you support student athletes like O’Koyea who use baseball as a vehicle to achieve success in their futures in and out of the game. Your gift to the student athletes can be designated towards the Scholarship Fund, the Coach Development Program (O’Koyea also returned to the California Warriors as a Winter Ball Coach), Travel Assistance, Administration, or can be left without a designation to be used where necessary to keep the First Base Foundation thriving. Thank you for supporting the First Base Foundation, California Warriors, and student athletes like O’Koyea – none of it would be possible without you.
Becoming a baseball coach is a professional path I have always envisioned myself taking. I was surprised and excited when I got a call from Ryan Burke, VP of baseball operations of the First Base Foundation, asking me if I wanted to coach for the California Warriors this summer. I was also a little concerned and hesitant because I did not feel I had the requisite skills to be a successful California Warriors coach. Ryan said not to worry and that we would have time before the beginning of the season to learn effective coaching techniques, and that he would initially assist me with my team. With the help and guidance of the FBF Executive Director and Coach Development Program personnel, I was successful in learning the ins and outs of coaching and what goes into efficiently coaching a summer baseball team.
I never gave up on the game of baseball. I was an average player and an average student, but had a passion for the game. After high school I played for College of Marin where my game and grades improved tremendously and was offered scholarships to play at the next level.
The University of Montevallo, located in Alabama where I had the two best years of my life, recruited me to play baseball. At Montevallo, I was an academic all conference team member and was on the president’s list for academics as well, two things I thought I would never achieve. I have experienced adversity in baseball at almost every level and know what it takes to overcome it. Baseball is not easy and there is no right way to do things. Being a coach with the FBF/CW has allowed me to use my experience and knowledge of the game to help student athletes find their own paths.
The first few weeks of the summer I spent learning from and coaching with Ryan Burke. Ryan has been in the coaching game longer than I have and has had success so it was nice to get to work with him. In the office of the First Base Foundation, Ryan developed a coach’s manual, which helped me with the overall organization of my team. At first, Ryan acted as a facilitator because I was still new to coaching, but after a period of time he allowed me to coach my team without his supervision. The FBF made my transition from player to coach a very easy and comfortable one. Through the Coach Development Program, I have learned how to coach and bring out the best in all my players.
Although Ryan allowed me to run my team, it would’ve been very difficult without my assistant coaches. I spent most of my summer with Joe Jimenez, California Warriors alum who is currently playing at Chapman University. Joe was a tremendous help to me because he provided skill in the one position I have never really played, catcher. Joe was able to work with our young catchers by critiquing them and helping to develop their own skill set. I also spent some time with Christian Merriweather, California Warriors alum currently playing at College of Marin. Christian helped a great deal with outfielders in the program. Practice was a big part of our summer as we were able to bring all of our teams together. I believe that it is important for our younger players to play against better competition because the test challenges them to play at a higher level.
I am a Communication Studies major at the University of Montevallo, and much of what I study relates to my experience as a coach. Through a Leadership Communication course I took last semester I identified myself as a transformational leader. A transformational leader is one who focuses on the development of others and instills a vision towards a goal that benefits the entire team. This summer I was able to exert my transformational qualities through my coaching. In all situations I aim to seek out the positives and when I do critique, the goal is to be constructive and beneficial.
Interpersonal communication is something that is very relevant and important in the world of coaching. Working with student athletes that are different in their own way has helped improve my interpersonal skills. Coaching for the First Base Foundation and the California Warriors has opened a door for me that will help me in my future career. I have built relationships with people that will last forever and a support system that will always be there. I am very grateful for all the First Base Foundation has done for me and I highly recommend working with the FBF to anyone who has the opportunity!
Every summer the California Warriors baseball teams wrap up their season at the prestigious Phil Singer Summer Series Tournament in North County San Diego. This summer, the 17u Elite represented the California Warriors in the tournament, putting on one of the best showings the Warriors have ever had by making it to the final 6 teams.
The Phil Singer Summer Series is a 32-team tournament consisting of the most competitive teams from across the West Coast. Each year, not only does the best competition come to the tournament, but college recruiters from over 40 schools were also represented this year. Many California Warrior players have been noticed by coaches and offered scholarships in the past, and this year the team’s strong performance drew even more interest to our players.
The first three days of the Phil Singer Summer Series consist of three straight double headers to determine seeding for the double elimination tournament that takes place after an off day that allows the teams to recover. The 17u Elite Team got off to a solid start in pool play, going 4-2 and earning the #11 seed in the double elimination tournament.
The first day of pool play saw 17u Elite facing off against City Baseball of Seattle, Washington and Dove Tail Bats of San Diego, CA. In game 1 Daniel Colwell and Eddie Burns combined for a shutout in a 4-0 win over City Baseball. Game 2 saw a similar performance on the mound from Henrik Reinertsen who threw 5 innings giving up only one run. The Warriors lost the lead late in the game, however, and 17u Elite fell 4-2.
Going into Day 2 with a 1-1 record in pool play, the 17u Elite faced off against No Fear of San Diego, CA and Hardtke Baseball of Campbell, CA. In game 1, starting pitcher Dylan Pottsgeiser threw the best game of the tournament, giving up only 2 runs en route to a 17u Elite 6-2 victory over No Fear. The Warriors ended up losing Game 2 to Hardtke Baseball, as they surrendered another lead late in the game, losing 6-2.
Day 3 was a momentum-swinging day for the California Warriors 17u Elite as they faced off against the Watsonville Aggies of Watsonville, CA and Garciaparra Baseball Group (GBG) of Los Angeles, CA. Game 1 saw another solid pitching performance as Alec Ritch threw 5+ innings, giving up only two runs. After he left, 17u Elite surrendered another late lead, but this time they would fight back to earn the victory. Heading to the bottom of the 6th down by 1 Run, 17u Elite rallied to score two runs and take the lead behind a Tyler Quintanilla single. Isacc Sloan came in and shut the door in the top of the 7th to earn the save. Anthony Pomilia had a solid game offensively with 3 hits and 3 RBI. In the second game of the day, 17U Elite took down GBG by a score of 9-2. Aiden Vannucci started on the mound, throwing 3 scoreless, with James Schoch and Eddie Burns throwing the rest of the innings in relief. Offensively it was a total team effort, with everyone in the starting lineup recording a hit. Outfielder Tyler Quintanilla also recorded the first home run of the tournament, smashing a no doubter to left field late in the game.
17U Elite’s success in pool play was largely the result of their strong pitching and defense. Allowing an average of only 4 runs a game helped the California Warriors keep the games within reach, and timely hitting gave us great chance to win. Outfielder Alec Ritch was a constant presence in the middle of the line up in pool play driving runners in and hitting the ball hard.
After an off day where most players relaxed at the beach, 17u Elite was back in action in the Winner’s Bracket of the double elimination tournament, facing off against the West Coast Clippers of Oceanside, CA. Daniel Colwell and Eddie Burns were both back on the mound and they combined for another strong game, allowing just 3 runs. Matthew Calhoun got the scoring started in the bottom of the 1st when he singled in Chris Giles with 2 outs. 17u Elite would give up the lead in the top of the 2nd, but then got back on top behind Tyler Quintanilla’s 2nd home run of the tournament. The teams would then trade runs, setting up a dramatic finish for 17u Elite in the bottom of the 7th. With Matthew Calhoun on 2nd, Tyler Quintanilla capped off his big day, singling to right for a 17u Elite walk off win to stay in the winners bracket. 17u Elite then played the Washington Rush of Seattle, WA in their 2nd game of the day, and an early offensive explosion saw them secure a smooth 12-1 win. The bottom of the first was all 17u Elite would need as they sent 12 hitters to the plate and scored 8 runs. This lead was too much for the Rush to overcome, and Henrik Reinersten, Gremelt Balladares, and Jonny Burns combined on the mound.
Day 2 of double elimination brought 17u Elite to a Winners Bracket Game against the CAB Soldiers in which they suffered a tough loss and found themselves one game away from elimination. They then headed to an elimination game against the Saddleback Cowboys with the final tournament of the summer on the line. In another tight game, 17u Elite battled into extra innings, eventually beating the Saddleback Cowboys to stay alive. Anthony Pomilia had a big game with 3 hits and 2 RBI.
17U Elite opened day 3 of double elimination with an early morning game against the Solana Beach Cardinals. After falling behind early, 17u Elite rallied to take a 4-1 lead in the 3rd. Tyler Quintanilla threw 5 strong innings to start, giving up just 1 run. After getting into some trouble in the 6th, Matthew Calhoun came in from shortstop to replace Gremelt Balladares and finish the game on the mound. After playing almost every inning at shortstop in the first 11 games, Calhoun showed great poise earning the save under pressure. This win then put the California Warriors into a rematch with the CAB Soldiers.
Playing in their 12th game in 6 days, 17u Elite couldn’t overcome an early deficit against the CAB Soldiers losing a close battle 2-1. Daniel Colwell, Sawyer Whitney and Teddy Hoxie all pitched well in the Warriors’ loss.
Standout performances at the Phil Singer Tournament came from all players on the 17U Elite roster. Every player chipped in and contributed to the team’s success. Chris Giles played CF and hit leadoff every game and was a constant on the bases and scoring runs. The infield of Marty Cole, Aiden Vannucci, Anthony Pomilia and Matthew Calhoun ate up most of the 12 games with Calhoun making multiple highlight reel plays at shortstop. Caden Cortese and Jack Gallagher combined to catch all the games behind the plate, throwing out runners and handling the pitching staff very well. Tyler Quintanilla and Alec Ritch were the big sticks in the middle of the lineup, driving in runs and putting pressure on opposing outfielders.
The First Base Foundation and California Warriors constantly look for ways to expand our influence in order to help more young people successfully grow into their adult lives. One of the ways that we have used the game of baseball to help our alumni develop important life and job skills is through the First Base Foundation’s Coach Development Program, which was formalized for the 2017 season after existing unofficially for many seasons. California Warriors alumni who are current or former collegiate baseball players have the chance to rejoin the California Warriors as an Assistant Coach and receive training as they work their way towards becoming a Head Coach. This is an excellent opportunity for California Warriors alumni to develop leadership and interpersonal communication skills while ensuring the current California Warriors players are being coached by skilled baseball players who understand and grew out of the positive and fun California Warriors culture.
The 2017 California Warriors coaching staff consists of a mix of current and former collegiate athletes, all of whom came through the California Warriors program as players. The head coaches for 2017 are Anthony Firenzi (Niagara University, 2015), Cameron Merriwether (Sonoma State University, 2015), Dominic DeVille (University of Montevallo, 2017), and Michael Praszker (Santa Clara University, 2020), each of whom has experience playing at either the D-I or D-II level. The assistant coaches for the summer of 2017 are Joe Jimenez (Chapman University, 2020) and Christian Merriwether (College of Marin, 2020). These coaches, led by Vice President of Baseball Operations Ryan Burke (San Francisco State University, 2016), act as positive role models and mentors for the California Warriors players and help the California Warriors teams operate efficiently.
Moving from playing to coaching is a transition that many athletes make as their playing days draw to a close. Transitioning to the coaching world means having to see the game from a different perspective. As California Warriors Blue Team Head Coach Mike Praszker put it, “Seeing the game as a coach has allowed me to improve my own ability to accept constructive criticism as a player.” Mike understands that from the players’ perspective, criticism can often come off as negative, but a good coach is able to present the criticism in a way that allows the player to internalize the information and use it as a tool to improve. Being able to see this interaction from the coach’s standpoint has helped him see criticism in a positive light, something that will be essential to his success at Santa Clara University, where he just finished his freshman season.
The summer 2017 season was the first one spent as a coach for rising college sophomore Joe Jimenez, and the experience has been a powerful one. “Coaching this summer gave me a chance to work on soft skills that I can use in whichever career path I choose when I graduate from Chapman. While I am usually on the field as a player, this summer as a coach has given me a new perspective and made me think about the game on a level that I hadn’t before, something that will definitely continue to help me in my playing career.” As someone still playing ball, Joe is able to connect on a personal level with the California Warriors players, creating a comfortable environment and proving himself to be an invaluable asset to the organization. While putting a lot into the California Warriors program, Joe has also gained skills through the Coaching Development Program that will prove useful as he explores new walks of life.
Dominic DeVille is another of our coaches who is making the transition from player to coach as he just finished playing college ball at D-II University of Montevallo in Alabama. “The First Base Foundation’s Coaches Development Program has helped open the possibly of making coaching a career for me. I will be attending graduate school for a Master’s degree in Sports Management, and the First Base Foundation has really helped me become familiar with all aspects of a sports organization. I have learned the ins and outs of being a head coach, and have been introduced to what it is like working in the front office of a baseball organization. The skills and experience the First Base Foundation has given me are very valuable and will most definitely help me in my future career path.” Dominic’s experience with the First Base Foundation is a great example of the range of opportunities that arise from taking part in the CDP – learning about the inner workings of the organization in addition to coaching is a unique experience that is a hallmark of the First Base Foundation’s Coach Development Program.
This summer marked another year of great success with the Coach Development Program. The California Warriors coaches have been given the opportunity to learn what it is like be a head or assistant coach and have developed the skills necessary to work with young baseball players. There is a symbiosis present in the Coach Development Program, where our coaches share their experiences and knowledge while gaining valuable job experience. It is an avenue for individuals committed to mentoring, building relationships, working during the summer, learning valuable lessons in team building and strategies, and wanting to build their resume and networking in baseball. We look forward to watching our current and former Coach Development Program participants grow and develop as coaches and members of the workforce. We cannot wait to welcome next year’s coaches for the summer of 2018!
We are honored and ecstatic to announce that Noah Jackson, the Founder of the First Base Foundation, has been hired as the Assistant Baseball Coach at UC Berkeley. This is the third time in Noah’s career that he will be putting on the Cal Bears uniform. He graduated and played baseball at Cal and later returned as a Volunteer Assistant Coach for two seasons.
Noah was hired by Mike Neu to coach at the University of Pacific from 2015-2017, and looks forward to continuing his work with Neu at Cal. In his new role at Cal, Jackson will coach hitters and outfielders, and will be the team’s recruiting coordinator.
“Noah is an unbelievable recruiter and hard worker. He’s tireless and he knows what it’ll take to get the right guys at Cal.”
UC Berkeley Head Coach Mike Neu
Prior to coaching at the collegiate level, Noah played professionally in the Chicago Cubs organization, scouted for the San Diego Padres (where he drafted current big-leaguer Joe Ross), and devoted his time and energy to ensuring that his 501(c)3 non-profit, the First Base Foundation, successfully transformed student athletes’ futures by making high quality travel ball more affordable and instilling leadership skills and self-esteem in the California Warriors players.
Washington Nationals manager (and Noah’s godfather) Dusty Baker, has watched Noah’s work with the First Base Foundation as well as his development as a coach and leader, and is a big believer in both Noah and the Foundation. Dusty’s son Darren is joining the Cal Bears as a freshman this season, and we all look forward to watching his career unfold.
Noah isn’t the only member of the First Base Foundation family to move on to great things in baseball. There is an extensive list of California Warriors Alumni playing professional baseball and alumni who have returned to the California Warriors organization to develop their careers in coaching. In addition, we want to congratulate CW Director of Baseball Operations Ryan Burke, who is joining College of Marin as an Assistant Coach, alum Devin Pearson who works in the Boston Red Sox front office, alum Jackson Smith who works for the SF Giants and is an MLB intern in NYC this summer, alum Anthony Firenzi who coaches at Redwood HS, alum Kenny Rabin who coaches at Branson, and alum Pat Conroy who coaches at Terra Linda HS.