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

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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.

Ben Somorjai Featured By Palo Alto Online

California Warrior Ben Somorjai was featured by Palo Alto Online in early April for an outstanding week at the plate that helped his team sweep a week of games. Ben went 6-10 with 4 Runs scored and 6 RBI. Take a look at the interview in the video below. Congratulations Ben!

3 California Warriors Alums Now MCAL Coaches

The Ross Valley Reporter just printed an article featuring four former teammates from College of Marin who have now returned to the MCAL as head baseball coaches – three of those guys, Patrick Conroy, Beau Gardner, and Alex Boeri also played together during the summer as California Warriors. Before returning to Marin to be the Head Coach at Terra Lina, Pat Conroy played in the Kansas City Royals farm system. Following his playing career, Gardner returned to coach with the California Warriors and currently is the Novato High School Head Coach, while Boeri is an Assistant Coach to Jesse Foppert at Marin Catholic.

For a look at the full article, CLICK HERE. We’re proud to see our alumni working towards being leaders in their communities and continuing their careers in baseball!

3 alums

California Warriors Alum Kenny Rosenberg On The Student-Athlete College Experience

California Warriors alum, Kenny Rosenberg, attends Cal State Northridge and is a pitcher on the D-I Matador’s baseball team. He recently wrote a piece for Matador Baseball Stories, an ongoing series told from the perspective of student-athletes on the CSUN Baseball team. Read the story below to hear how Kenny overcame adversity to ultimately become a stronger and more complete student-athlete.

Rosenberg

Playing under the lights at Jackie Robinson Stadium against crosstown rival UCLA, the freshman version of myself could have benefited from a few pointers. It was a lot to take in for an 18-year-old kid making his college debut against the defending 2013 NCAA National Champions. Accustomed to being a starting pitcher, I had never even thrown in relief in a game. Coach decided to put me in with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, trailing 2-1.

I struck out the first batter on three straight pitches to end the inning, but then gave up a triple to lead off the eighth. My outing against UCLA was the epitome of how my freshman year went. I experienced a mix of peaks and valleys on and off the field, and I didn’t know how to respond to success or failure. In school, practice and competition, I had a lot to learn to become a great student-athlete.

Now at the halfway point in my college career, I’ve taken time to reflect on what it was like for me during my first two years and how I could have shortened the learning curve. Newcomers have considered my advice on many aspects of being a student-athlete. I tell them that I was in their shoes two years ago, but the years go by quickly.

During my first two years of college classes, I had many successes that came with many failures. In my first semester on campus, I finished with a near 4.0 GPA. I then proceeded to drop off during my first “in season” spring semester. Everything that was once so simple became quite complicated. I became focused on what I had to do to get by and I lost sight of what I needed to do to become a great student-athlete.

Looking back at my experience, I would tell my younger self that there is more to being an average student. I would emphasize that academics should be a priority.

When I set foot in the athletics’ weight room for our first 5 a.m. team lift in August of 2013, I didn’t have the body of a Division I athlete. I hardly lifted or worked out at all in high school, which gave me a large gap to cover in a short amount of time. I did my best to keep up with the rest of the guys who had been doing the exercises for years. Some of the upperclassmen were squatting more than 400 pounds, while I was still trying to learn the basic mechanics of a back squat. What I didn’t realize at the time was that everyone has to start somewhere and I needed to learn how to do everything the right way. While the strength coaches did a good job of explaining the right form to complete the exercises, it was up to the student-athlete to put it into action. If I could give my freshman self one piece of advice in the weight room, it would be to be honest with myself and lift only what I’m capable of. Also, I would encourage myself to trust that the coaches and other players would rather see me working to improve than see me try to impress.

After having success on and off the field during my freshman year, I went into my sophomore year with high expectations that I was physically and mentally unable to meet. After posting my worst GPA in the fall while simultaneously going down with a lower back injury, I had practically hit rock bottom academically and athletically. I watched every game for the first month of the season from a folding chair on the sidelines or by my computer, not knowing when my back would heal or when I’d even be able to throw again. By March 2015, I had a diagnosis and came to understand that I wouldn’t play for the rest of the year.

After being away from the game that I love for so long and by watching my teammates compete from afar on a low definition online video stream, something finally clicked. I focused on my education and began to right the ship. My grades improved. I also dedicated myself to my rehab program to get healthy. Eventually, without picking up a ball for nearly six months, I was cleared for unrestricted activity in June and soon after I started pitching again.

I believe that I needed to get hurt. I know it sounds weird, but my injury may have been my body letting me know that something wasn’t working properly. Now that I am healthy, I look back and see clearly where I went wrong. Sadly time machines don’t exist, but the best thing to do with hindsight is to use it for self-improvement. No matter what the obstacle is, no matter if you pass or fail, your experiences must be learning experiences.

If I could give a final piece of advice to every student-athlete, it would be to stay on an even keel. They may not encounter the same challenges that I have, but I promise they will be tested one way or another. Success and failure will come and go but the key is to treat them as one and the same – an opportunity for growth.