My Summer As A California Warriors Coach – Dom DeVille

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.

#caliwarriors Silver Team Head Coach Dominic DeVille discusses what he has taken away from coaching this summer. #baseball

A post shared by California Warriors (@caliwarriors) on

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!

Coach Development Program A Great Opportunity For California Warriors Alumni

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!

FBF Founder Gets The Call

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.

The Importance of Coaching

The First Base Foundation & California Warriors are holding 7 practices at Tam HS and Redwood HS over the course of the summer. While competing in games during the summer is a great way to have fun, stay in shape, and grow as a baseball player, practices afford players the opportunity to address specific issues with their game and turn around bad habits.

At practice last week, all four teams spent time working together as well as with their individual teams, and also worked out by position. Coach Jimenez, a catcher at Chapman University, pulled the catchers from all four teams aside to work on catcher-specific drills. While the catchers worked on throwdowns and proper technique for blocking balls in the dirt, outfielders worked on their footwork when chasing down fly balls, batters cycled through taking reps in the cages, infielders practiced rundowns, and everyone spent some time on baserunning technique at the end of practice.

Breaking down individual techniques by position, working specifically on situational hitting, and talking to the players about the coaches’ expectations all help players develop strong baseball habits that they will carry with them into their high school seasons. The practices allow the coaches to recreate game situations and explain to the players how to improve, which is why they are an extremely important complement to games and tournaments throughout the summer ball season.

Prior to each practice, Coach Burke compiles a practice schedule, which allows the rest of the coaching staff to seamlessly move players from station to station so everyone makes the most out of their time on the field. The First Base Foundation coaching program prides itself on providing the California Warriors players with a fun, competitive atmosphere that also is effective in correcting mistakes and addressing lingering bad habits.

California Warriors Alumni Give Strong Showing in High School Playoffs

California Warriors Shine in MCAL Championship

This past weekend, the MCAL Championship game was played between Drake and Marin Catholic High Schools. Many California Warriors had an impact, but none greater than that of former Warrior Owen Hamilton. With the game tied 2-2 in the bottom of the 19th inning, Hamilton blasted a walk-off homerun, bringing home the championship for the Drake Pirates.

The 2017 MCAL Championship game was one for ages as the extra inning game turned into a two-day affair. Originally starting on Friday May, 19th at 7:00pm, the game was tied through 18 innings and officials decided to finish the game the next day as it was past midnight. Saturday afternoon was much different than the previous night’s showing, as the game needed just one inning to wrap up due to Hamilton’s walk-off home run.

As is typical in MCAL title games, many past and present California Warriors were scattered throughout both dugouts. We would like to congratulate those players on making it to the big dance:

Marin Catholic California Warriors:

  • Jack Harris
  • Sean Henry
  • Daniel Ongaro
  • Joe Levin

Drake HS California Warriors:

  • Owen Hamilton
  • Nick Roth

California Warriors Alumni Featured on Casa Grande NBL Championship Team

The California Warriors would like to congratulate the Casa Grande Gauchos on their recent NBL Championship, and are proud of the former and current California Warriors that helped make it happen. The California Warriors playing for the Gauchos are:

  • Hance Smith – C/SS
  • John Green – C/OF
  • Quinton Gago – LHP/OF
  • Eddie Bermudez – 2B

In their 11-1 Championship Game win Quinton Gago picked up the win on the mound, with all four players recording hits offensively in the win.

Lowell Standout Heads to Pacific

From SF Gate.

The road to a college baseball scholarship is paved — in no particular order — with connections, genetics, good fortune and a lot of sweat.

When you play in the Academic Athletic Association, the need for all of those ingredients is amplified.

That’s why when Lowell senior Joe Solomon was offered and accepted a partial ride to the University of the Pacific over the weekend, it felt especially satisfying to all involved.

He will join three former AAA pitchers now pitching at the Division I level: Lowell alums Craig Colen (Cal Poly) and Elijah Saunders (Grambling State) and Galileo graduate Kyle Nelson (UC Santa Barbara).

“It’s really exciting to be a part of that group that actually gets to move on and keep playing,” Solomon said. “I just have to keep playing and working hard.”

A UOP assistant coach was at Big Rec on Thursday when Solomon, a 6-foot-2, 185-pounder, clinched Lowell’s regular-season title with a 6-2 complete-game victory over Washington. Solomon threw a five-hitter, struck out six, walked one and improved to 6-3 with a 1.66 ERA this season.

In his three-year career, he’s 19-6 with a 1.79 ERA and 157 strikeouts in 164 innings.

Solomon is trying to lead the Cardinals (20-6) to their fifth straight San Francisco Section championship. A semifinal playoff win Thursday would put Lowell into the final next Wednesday at AT&T Park.

Solomon dominated last year’s 6-3 title-game defeat of Balboa at AT&T, pitching a seven-hitter and picking up two hits and three RBIs. The bigger the stage, the better Solomon seemingly plays.

“I’m not going to lie, it was a little nerve-racking with my possible college coach sitting right behind home plate,” Solomon said. “I tried to just treat it like any other game. Honestly, I feel most comfortable when I’m on the mound and get into the zone.”

His scholarship hasn’t come by accident, said pitching coach Emil DeAndreis.

In the summer before his junior year, Solomon worked out — bright and early — with DeAndreis regularly. Solomon alternated between weight work, running and their favorite workout: pushing the coach’s car through city streets.

“I put the car in neutral and Joe gets behind and pushes as hard and fast as he can for 30 yards,” DeAndreis said. “It’s quite a workout. … I knew then Joe was a special breed. I don’t know many 16-year-olds dragging themselves out of bed every morning at 6 to push cars. This was something he truly wanted.”

DeAndreis knew the path it took. He had a successful career at Lowell, but got no offers until Hawaii-Hilo gave him one.

“It’s always been an uphill battle to get noticed in the AAA,” he said. “It’s getting better, for sure, but still Joe is a very competitive kid. He was fascinated with the process.”

It helped that Colen, who mentored Solomon as a sophomore, had succeeded and earned a scholarship to Cal Poly.

Increased velocity on his fastball — Solomon’s now in the 83-85 mph range — a good curve and slider and general command, along with excellent grades (better than a 4.0 GPA), clinched the scholarship.

“He’s a really competitive kid in the best kind of way,” DeAndreis said. “He’s a great teammate. He’s accountable and never makes excuses. His qualities have rubbed off on all the other kids. You wish you had 20 like him on every team.

“It’s all about getting an opportunity. The door is open for Joe. He’ll no doubt make the most of it.”

Mendocino College Eagles Baseball Thriving Under California Warriors Alums

The Mendocino College Eagles Baseball Program has taken off this season under new Head Coach Conor Bird and Assistant Coach Ryan Burke, both of whom have strong ties to the California Warriors and First Base Foundation. Conor Bird served as a California Warriors Coach for a couple seasons, and was the pitching coach and Interim Head Coach for the College of Marin Mariners for 9 years before moving on to Mendocino College. Ryan Burke played for the Warriors for 6 years in high school and college, joined as a coach in summer 2015, and was named Director of Baseball Operations in the summer of 2016. At Mendocino, Burke serves as the Hitting Coach, works with the infielders, and is the program’s Recruiting Coordinator.

Expectations were low for the new coaching staff in their first year, but the new coaches have been able to shatter those expectations and turn the program into a contender in their first year. Taking over a 7-win team from the previous year with only 7 returning players on the roster was tough, but a new influx of talent and a new culture have the program on the brink of their first playoff appearance in many years.

Mendocino surpassed last year’s win total of 7 before conference play even began, as the Eagles went 11-7-1 in non-conference play. The Eagles have also enjoyed a 7-game win streak during the season, and the most recent CCCBCA Northern California rankings have the Eagles at #15, which is the highest they have been ranked in 20+ years. Currently, the Eagles are 14-11-1.

One of the biggest changes the new coaching staff has made is a new offensive approach that is generating a lot of runs. The Eagles are near the top of their conference in almost all offensive categories, and have already scored more runs in their first 26 games (154), than they scored in all of last season (132). They have also already hit 12 home runs and have 136 RBI’s compared to 2 and 118 in the previous season.

Congrats to Conor and Ryan, we love seeing California Warriors out in the world doing great things in baseball!

Dusty Baker’s Coaching Style Impacts FBF

The First Base Foundation and California Warriors are built on a culture of positivity and support, two characteristics of coaching that First Base Foundation Founder, Noah Jackson, learned at the hands of his Godfather, Dusty Baker. As Dusty captains the Washington Nationals through the 2016 MLB playoffs, his players have noticed and appreciated the calm, positivity, and trust that Baker brings to the clubhouse, attributes that instill confidence in the players and help them achieve their fullest potential.

dusty-cover

Nationals star, Jayson Werth, had some high praise for Dusty’s managing style: “…you can’t say enough about him. I mean, we’ve gone from one end of the spectrum to the other in a short period of time. When you walk into spring training, that first day of spring training, you could tell just how relaxed the atmosphere was in the clubhouse. And that’s held true throughout the whole season, and I think all that credit goes to Dusty. He had a vision, and what he wanted to do with this team, and he started that day one of spring training and has kept that going all the way here until the end of the season…You know, he’s just a pillar. He comes in every day with the same attitude. I’ve always said, players reflect their manager, and obviously we’ve reflected him in that regard. We’ve been ready to play, but relaxed; having a good time, and ready to win.” The First Base Foundation coaches promote these same values, building an atmosphere of respect and positivity that allows players to thrive on and off the field.

Click here for the full Washington Post article.

Stanford Study Ties Wealth To Academic Achievement

Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 2.52.49 PM

In a recent study, researchers from Stanford University found that sixth graders in the wealthiest school districts are four grade levels ahead of their counterparts in poor districts. The study clearly shows both that the socioeconomic conditions that students face heavily impact their achievement and that race and class are still very closely tied – “Test scores reflect not just the quality of schools or their teachers, but all kinds of other factors in children’s lives, including their home environment; whether they attended a good preschool; traumas they have experienced; and whether their parents read to them at night or hire tutors…Not only are black and Hispanic children more likely to grow up in poor families, but middle-class black and Hispanic children are also much more likely than poor white children to live in neighborhoods and attend schools with high concentrations of poor students.”

These findings, in tandem with the new NCAA academic guidelines for athletic eligibility, accentuate the need for our communities to support minority student athletes in their pursuit of higher eduction.