2015 California Warriors Program Stands Out

Gold in DugoutTraditionally, summer baseball teams can feel less cohesive than regular high school and college programs. Players rotate in and out of games more often, tournament schedules can be unpredictable, players schedule showcases outside of the team schedule – it is generally a more scattered experience. The California Warriors, however, provide a different environment for it’s student athletes.

The California Warriors teams are filled with collegiate-bound student athletes who individually need to be seen by college coaches, but each of the players on the White, Blue, and Gold teams are invested not only in their personal development, but in contributing to the team dynamic. The Gold team is made up of graduated seniors and younger players on the fast track to college recruitment, players who typically show up to every game even when they don’t expect to play. Graduated senior Colby Morris, a pitcher on the Gold Team, has been to several games this summer just to watch — he has planned to limit his innings by throwing only once a week — since he wanted to be a part of the team atmosphere and listen to valuable coaching advice. When the Gold Team traveled to Reno for a tournament, Jack Harris, who had recently injured his leg, sat through the four-hour drive knowing he was unable to play; he simply wanted to be with the team and watch baseball for a weekend. The student athletes on the Warriors teams recognize that the coaches in the organization convey a wealth of information in the dugouts and that they can watch their peers to step up their own game as opposed to exclusively going to games where they individually are featured.

Some who have played with the Warriors in previous years who did not intend to play again this summer heard about the great environment on the field for all the Warriors teams and reached out to the organization to see if they could make their way onto a squad at the last minute. Gold team player Paul Kunst, who didn’t start the summer with the Warriors, made his way onto the team after hearing of the expertise in the dugouts and the camaraderie between the players, eventually providing a great performance in the Utah tournament.

Throughout the summer, the coaches with the White team — made up of players who haven’t seen much varsity action — have seen their players develop into better all-around athletes who are better equipped to make quick decisions during games. The Blue and Gold teams have each seen huge success in the summer and will play against their top competition of the summer in San Diego to conclude their summer seasons.

My Two Loves: Baseball and Slopestyle Skiing

Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 12.57.29 PMI would say my first love in life was baseball. I’m an avid player who has been playing for as long as I can remember, and for more teams than I can remember. If finding love once wasn’t enough, I found love a second time in freestyle skiing. I am not only a catcher on the baseball diamond for the California Warriors Blue Team, but also a freestyle skier on snow. This past week, I have been in Oregon at a summer ski camp. The camp I attended is called Mt Hood Summer Ski Camp. MHSSC is a camp that draws skiers from all over the world, including Japan, Canada, Germany and even Luxembourg. Mt Hood is a glacier in Oregon that has snow year round, which is why it draws so much attention. Most of the campers are teens and young adults who all are relatively advanced in skiing. Mt, Hood Summer Ski Camp is for freestyle and race skiers to come and progress at a sport they love. During my week away I learned how to land new tricks and also learned how NOT to land. While trying a new aerial trick I landed upside-down and managed to give myself a minor concussion. If that wasn’t enough, while on this trip I also managed to fall on a rail and may have cracked one of my ribs. As you may be able to guess, my parents were thrilled to hear about this.

joe ski 2My first time on skis was when I was two years old. Ever since then skiing was a family bonding experience that I always looked forward too, much like going to baseball games with my family. Skiing, like baseball became one of my passions. I quickly surpassed my parents’ ability to ski and became interested in slopestyle. Something about watching athletes spinning and flipping themselves off massive jumps and seeing the ease in which they do it would always give me this excitement. The only comparison I can make to this rush of excitement is watching one of my favorite baseball players hitting a massive home run. Because of this feeling, I dedicated myself to trick skiing, and enrolled myself in the summer ski camp.

Although this past week in Oregon was very enjoyable, I’m happy to be back. I missed playing baseball and realized that there truly is something special about stepping on a baseball diamond that will give you a feeling that no other sport can. I can’t wait to get back out there on the diamond for the California Warriors in their upcoming games.

Written by Joe Levin, Warriors Blue Team Catcher

Playing Baseball in Cold Climates – My Year at Colby College

I just finished my first year playing collegiate baseball at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. Growing up in California, I was able to play baseball outside year round. Playing collegiate baseball in Maine has been a major change. This was the longest winter on record in 40 years, and the baseball field at Colby was covered in snow from late November until mid April. This left us without a field to practice on, which caused us to get creative.

At Colby we are fortunate to have a field house on campus; this is not something that exists at all East Coast schools. There are many positives of having a field house. All of our practices happen in the field house during these snowy months. In the field house we are able to have a full infield practice with baserunners. Pitchers are able to perfect their pitches inside on portable turf mounds, and players are also able to work on their swings in the indoor batting cages. In the field house we are able to run sprints and use weights after practice to stay in shape. Mentally, we know we are practicing and getting better every day, compared to other schools on the East Coast that may not have a field house.

ConnorThe need for communication is also important in a field house. Sound carries and the noise level can be overwhelming. This means that paying attention to coaches and other players is imperative towards having a successful practice.

There are, however, some disadvantages to a field house. It is not the size of a full baseball field, which means we are only able to have a full infield and half an outfield. Height is another issue. The field house roof is only thirty feet high, so there are not a lot of opportunities for us to practice fly balls and pop ups. The low field house roof changes our approach to hitting. Our team hits a lot more linedrives and groundballs than a team that has the opportunity to practice outside. This can carry over to the season, leading our team to plays a lot of small ball. Regardless of these challenges, our team is very grateful to have a field house on campus so that we can get in much needed practices.

 The cold weather also affects our schedule. We start our season during our spring break during the last week of March in Florida. For all of us this is the first time we have seen grass since November. During this week we play ten games against other teams located in cold weather climates. After Florida we return to snowy Colby College and our familiar field house. We practice indoors to prepare for the NESCAC league games in early April in Connecticut and Massachusetts. In about mid April, we had our first home game against Thomas College, a local Maine school. Our season finished with a double header at Amherst College during the first weekend of May. Although it was a hectic season, with 31 games in six weeks, I feel like we were the best prepared indoor baseball team. My first season at Colby College was a great learning experience, and I wouldn’t change for the world.

A Summer I’ll Never Forget – By Aaron Smith

Pictures have been developed and uploaded, award winners chosen and applauded, and the fifth Costco sized bottle of detergent thrown away after cleaning the uniforms one final time. The lights have faded to black on the 2013 Warriors Collegiate Season.

After eight months of planning, designing, and coordinating, followed by a manic flurry of games in a little over two months, its safe to say I had a fair amount invested in the season. Although I was “working,” I had more fun this summer than I have had since I was a youngster attending baseball camps and running around water parks all summer long.

As I sat on the bench game after game, like a fly on the wall, I was privy to the inner-workings of the California Warriors. From the coaching strategies, to the players personal issues, from the jokes, to all the major and minor player accomplishments. Hitting the long road to Santa Barbara and Arcata, or playing at home at Marin Catholic or Evans Diamond. The stories and experiences could easily fill a book despite the short amount of time for their accumulation.

The student-athletes that make up the fierce California Warriors Collegiate team come from Oakland, Petaluma, San Francisco, Marin, the Bronx, and the Dominican Republic. They play at community colleges, high schools, and D1 through D3 programs. This crude collection of young men connected to create a beautiful harmony played out between the lines and the dirt of the baseball field. Guys who had never met before this summer ended up turning double plays fluently like they had done it for years. At the top of the first inning, catcher and pitcher introduce themselves for the first time, and by the bottom of the first they’re working with one another like a meticulously sound organism.

It was great, obviously, to meet and watch the heralded players like Manny Ramirez Jr., who hit six homeruns in less than a week. To watch pitchers like the Peterson twins and Trevin Haseltine carve up the strike zone and send opposing batters back to their respective benches shaking their heads in bewilderment. However, I also loved watching the players that didn’t come to the team with many accolades. They are what the First Base Foundation is all about. A guy like recent San Ramon Valley High School graduate Connor Stahl, who isn’t going to dazzle you with speed, but who showed up to the field for nearly every game, even when he knew he wasn’t going to pitch, to get work in with pitching coach Brian Diemer. I watched Stahl transform from a thrower to a pitcher in 2 short months. Brian Bostjancic, a sophomore at College of Marin, was another great guy who had a live arm and decent glove, but really struggled at the plate. After a ton of work with Assistant Coach Joe Slader, I then had the pleasure of watching Brian string together a 12 game hitting streak with an immense amount of confidence each time he stepped into the batters box. It then became a nearly automatic out every time a ball was hit Bostjancic’s way at shortstop.

On May 30th I had shoulder surgery on my throwing arm. It made it extremely depressing for me to see the guys out shagging fly-balls and playing long toss before each game, knowing that I couldn’t. But then the roles reversed, and the players became the coach and I became the student. Even though I knew at 30 years old, it would be no easy task… I decided to learn how to throw lefty. I would watch these young athletes switch their throwing hands and make it look natural. I; however, couldn’t hardly make it 10 feet, and boy did it look awful. But Connor and Sam Granoff, two lefties, took me under their wings and patiently worked with me. Connor and I played catch nearly every day for two weeks straight and it got better, a lot better. Then I hit a wall and couldn’t find any consistency, but Stahl and Granoff wouldn’t give up on me. Instead, their coaching got more intense, and at times I felt like if I didn’t improve they were going to cut me from the team. Now, after over a month of throwing with “Coach Stahl” I can throw it on the fly about 110 feet, and while it still is not the most natural looking throwing motion, it is well on its way.

All in all it was an amazing summer. We were the youngest and most inexperienced team in the Far West League, and yet with perseverance, hard work, and some great teamwork, we still managed to make the playoffs after finishing third out of eight teams. It was great to watch the guys struggle at times, learn, and grow through the great coaching staff and the help of one another. To start the season a group of individuals, but finish the season a team and a large group of friends, made this summer one I will not soon forget.

It’s All About the Journey – CAL Women’s Basketball Final Four

photo (10)There’s nothing better than celebrating 8 long months of hard work, grueling practices, and nail-biting games than at an extravagant Mardi Gras Parade with some of the best student athletes in the collegiate world.

As the Student Manager for the Cal Women’s Basketball Team, I had the awesome opportunity to attend the Division I Women’s Basketball Championship in New Orleans, LA. It’s where the best of the best NCAA Women’s Basketball teams compete; where you push yourself again and again until the final buzzer sounds. You can either win big, or go home.

The highlight of this journey isn’t just the games played; it’s the whole celebration of the student athletes and their extraordinary work leading up to this moment. From the second we walked into “Mardi Gras World”, a marching band filled our ears with fight songs and festive music. It was hard to tear ourselves away from the gorgeous Final Four rings on display, but we simply had to adorn ourselves with colorful boas, beads, and masks provided and join in the celebration with all the other teams!

The Final Four Salute Premiere at Mardi Gras World was a celebration to salute the Women’s Final Four student-athletes. Televised and open to the public, this theater style event also honored four local women for their work in the community. Each Final Four team also had the chance to walk down the catwalk to their seats as their school’s fight song played in the background, and each team captain gave a short inspirational speech about their season, their team’s struggles and successes, and how amazing it felt to be at the National Championship.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of this dynamic and powerful Cal Women’s Basketball team. The Final Four experience was a celebratory time spent with these empowering individuals who showed that with teamwork, passion, and vision… anything is possible!

Written by Sarah Germini, Summer 2013 Intern

The Magic Behind the Diamond

944649_633436903351720_1992996239_nAs I watched the California Warriors Collegiate Team play against the Sacramento Spikes during the first game of the season, I thought to myself about what it took to reach this point. In the Front Office, three days prior to that game, we were organizing the last-minute details for the four California Warriors’ teams; finalizing their game schedules, making sure that none of the games and fields were overlapping, working on getting the players their stylish uniforms, (especially the awesome Collegiate Away camouflage jerseys), and fielding the relentless phone calls and emails filled with questions from players and parents. The Front Office of the First Base Foundation is hectic. There is always a situation that we have to deal with while trying to make the season as effortless for the players and parents as possible.  Yet somehow, through all of the loud communication and the distractions, our front office team makes everything run smoothly.

For example, we set up a text-messaging program named One Call Now. One Call Now is supposed to send out a text alert to a Warriors team to notify them of an urgent change, such as a cancelled game or the location change for a practice. This service was supposed to simplify communication between the staff and players, but when we were setting it up, it seemed to only exacerbate the situation.  While establishing this service an we “accidentally” sent out a phone message to the Collegiate Team, the Blue Team, the Gold Team, and the White Team saying, “Test. Test. Test. From the First Base Foundation”.  For the rest of the day, there wasn’t a moment when the phone wasn’t ringing off the hook, with everyone asking the same question: “Why did you just call me?”  Pretty soon, even the sound of the phone was enough to send the staff running. Every time the phone rang, everyone in the office looked for someone else to answer the phone, turning the afternoon into a constant game of “It’s your turn!”

Of all the people in the office though, Noah Jackson wins as the man with the most phone calls. He has the hookups on one of the most popular aspects this year: Customized Nike Gear.  It seems like everyone that has ever been affiliated with the Warriors or First Base Foundation wants some of this astounding attire. There are legit socks, tremendous shirts, bossy shorts, awe-inspiring hats (some of which are for sale for $25), and jaw-dropping jerseys.  The Collegiate home jerseys are clean whites that look incredibly fresh, while the away jerseys are a blue camouflage that are absolutely splendid.  Our Equipment Manager, who is in charge of keeping the teams looking good, meticulously maintains all the uniforms.  During the offseason, Noah spent approximately 70% of his time looking for the freshest gear, finding the best prices, and designing custom swag for the teams.  This is the first year that we needed to order more clothing due to high demand.

I have never worked in a situation like this before where everybody contributes and everyone’s thoughts and ideas are equally important.  I now realize that the baseball team is only part of what the First Base Foundation is about.  It is a place of ideas, innovation, cooperation, coordination, humor, tolerance and generally a positive and encouraging work environment.  Not to mention… gourmet lunches are provided!

Written by Dillon Hamer. Dillon is an intern in the 2013 Summer Internship Program.

The Art of Mastering the Scoreboard

photo (4)Looking down on Marin Catholic’s perfectly manicured field, the view from the scoring box lends a unique perspective to watch the games.I understand what it’s like to be a player on the field, as well as a fan, but scoring while watching a game is something new to me. Constantly leaning my head one way or another to see the plays, the physical constraints of the window make it a sport in and of itself to watch the game. Aside from constantly moving around to see impeded plays, the view from the box is otherwise quite good. Unlike the grandstands the box seems to be an extension of the home dugout which allows for a participatory role; among other things you can see the dugout interactions between players and hear the fantastic echo of bull pen pitches.

While being a spectator is fun and leisurely, score keeping requires a certain amount of active participation. As the score keeper you have a duty to keep track of every pitch strike or ball, outs, the inning, runs, hits and errors. Doing this correctly takes a bit of attention, one moment of distraction can lead to an umpire stopping a game to check his clicker or a befuddled coach asking for a change to the scoreboard. In other words on every pitch there is a button to be pressed to keep the scoreboard current and accurate, and if not the whole stadium knows your mistake.

Participation as the scoreboard guy allows for greater recall of the game. Often times as a spectator I find that I watch a game and cannot remember much of went on, this is not the case with the games I score keep. Because of the frequency of participation it is easy to pay very close attention to the game and this adds a new element to the game. It transforms the experience from being a passive viewer to an active viewer, which is neither good nor bad, rather a preference.

Lastly it is really fun being a part of the game. The score keeper adds to the viewing experience of the fans at the game. For all of us who got kicked out of little league because of poor performance but still has a desire to participate, this is a fantastic job to do. While we are not spot lighted like the players and the coaches, subconsciously an active fan really appreciates an accurate scoreboard. It does not make or break anything but makes it easier to come and go as a fan and keep closer track of what is going on in the game. As the season goes on I look forward to many more games at the scorers table, doing my part behind the scenes to sustain the great game experience of the California Warriors!

Written by Julian Bloch. Julian is an intern in the 2013 Intern Summer Program. 

O’Koyea Dickson Hits It Out of the Park!

O_Koyea_Dickson_041413_0294_saqw3fvz_2auesef6Warriors Alumni O’Koyea Dickson played a great series with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes against The San Jose Giants!

The San Jose Giants scored the final four runs of Monday’s game, rallying from a three-run deficit for a 6-5 win over the Quakes at Municipal Stadium.

A sac fly off the bat of Angel Villalona completed the come-back, as the Giants avoided a four-game sweep on their own home field, ending Rancho’s four-game winning streak and forcing the Quakes to settle for a 4-3 road trip up north.

Pedro Baez (1-1) suffered the loss, as he gave up a lead-off double to Ryan Caven to open the eighth and surrendered the sac fly to Villalona.

Rancho had a shot in the ninth, as Ryan Mount singled with two outs against Giants’ closer Hunter Strickland. The rally was short-lived though, as Strickland rebounded to retire Noel Cuevas, ending the game and recording his fourth save of the year.

The Quakes had leads of 2-0 and 5-2 on Monday night, but watched the Giants rally back to tie the game on both occasions.

O’Koyea Dickson’s fifth homer of the year in the first gave Rancho an early 2-0 lead for Jarrett Martin.

Martin was unable to hold the lead though, as San Jose tallied once in the first and again in the second.

The Quakes got three in the fourth, highlighted by run-scoring singles from Mount and Rob Garvey, as the Quakes took a 5-2 lead against Giants’ starter Clayton Blackburn.

Command got the best of Martin in the fourth, as he walked a pair of two-out hitters that came into score on Elliott Blair’s two-run double, pulling the Giants to within a run at 5-4.

Devin Harris’ solo homer to lead off the fifth tied the game, his league-leading tenth of the year.

Martin allowed a total of five runs on six hits over five innings in the no-decision.

Warriors Alum Spotlight – D3 & NAIA

D3 NAIAThe First Base Foundation has many student athletes playing baseball at the collegiate level this season. Here is an update on the ones playing DIII and NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletes) baseball.

DIII

Jake Dorfman (Fr) LHP, Pomona-Pitzer College: After recovering from an early injury, Dorfman has made 1 appearance this season. Against Ithaca College he pitched 1 inning giving up 1 run on 2 hits and striking out 2 while recording the win
for the game.

Kenny Rabin (So) IF, Pomona-Pitzer College: In three games and one start this season, Rabin is hitting 1-6 with a run scored and a walk for the 22-7 Sagehens.

Guy Stevens (Sr) RHP, Pomona-Pitzer College: The Sagehens Senior Closer has made 1 appearance in 2.1 innings pitched. Stevens has recorded 1 save giving up 0 runs on 2 hits.

Adam Medoff (Sr) RHP, Amherst College: The Senior has thrown 4 innings in 4 total appearances this season. Medoff impressively has 7 strikeouts with zero walks so far this season while giving up only 2 earned runs.

Dominic Schwartz (Jr) IF, Brandeis University: Dom has played in 15 of the teams 22 games helping the Judges to a 7-15 overall record. The Junior infielder has 8 hits in 34 total at bats with 3 RBI and 4 runs scored. In a recent game against Worcester St., Schwartz went 2-4 with a walk and a run scored.

Logan Mobley (So) RHP, Middlebury College: The young right hander has started all three games he has appeared in this season for the 4-10 Panthers, with 1 complete game. Mobley has 12 strikeouts and only 5 walks in 14.2 innings pitched.

Rhett Gibbs (Fr) RHP, University of Puget Sound: The Freshman pitcher has made 3 appearances and 1 game start this season for the 11-18 Loggers. Gibbs has given up 4 earned runs in 4.1 innings pitched and an 0-1 record.

NAIA

Daniel Comstock (Fr) C, Menlo College: The outstanding Freshman is third on the Oaks with a .326 batting average, having started 37 of the teams 39 games behind the plate. Comstock is second on the team in nearly every major offensive category on the team. In a recent four game series against Coban University (Oregon), Comstock went 10-for-18 with 9 RBI and 4 runs scored.

Ronnie Schivo (Fr) MIF, Menlo College: In 30 Game appearances with 15 starts, the Freshman Middle Infielder is hitting .291 in 55 plate appearances. Schivo leads the team in stolen bases (10), despite his limited role. In the series against Corban University (Oregon) Ronnie 3-for-7 with 3 RBI and 7 runs scored.

MLB hopes to invigorate African-American participation – USA TODAY

upton-brothers-4_3_r536_c534Major League Baseball, with a record low 7.7 % of African-Americans on opening-day rosters this season, announced the creation of a task force Wednesday in hopes of reversing the 20-year decline.

“As a social institution, Major League Baseball has an enormous social responsibility to provide equal opportunities for all people, both on and off the field,” Commissioner Bud Selig said in a prepared statement. “I am proud of the work we have done thus far with the RBI program and the MLB Urban Youth Academies, but there is more that we must accomplish.

“We have seen a number of successful efforts with existing MLB task forces, and I believe we have selected the right people to effectively address the many factors associated with diversity in baseball.”

The African-American percentage in baseball this season is the lowest since the Boston Red Sox became the final team to integrate its roster in 1959, according to a USA TODAY study, that includes major-league players on the opening-day disabled lists. It’s a drop from 8.05% last season, a dramatic decline from 1995 when 19% of the rosters were African-American, and far from the peak of 27% in 1975.

“Bud is right on the spot,” veteran agent Scott Boras told USA TODAY Sports. “We’ve got to get these athletes back into baseball. But I don’t think anything will change until Major League Baseball and the NCAA wakes up.

“Until we get this remedied, the Jackie Robinsons of the world aren’t going to come to college to play baseball.”

Boras, who founded the Boras Baseball Classic to help gain exposure to high school players, recommends that MLB subsidizes college baseball scholarships. There are only 11.7 scholarships for college baseball programs, compared to 85 in football and 13 in basketball.

“If you’re a high school athlete coming from a single-parent home that doesn’t have the money to go to college,” Boras said, “you’re going to go to the sport where you can get a full scholarship. This needs to change if we want to get the best athletes in baseball.”

The dearth of African-Americans can be seen even at the high-school level, Hall of Fame executive Pat Gillick says.

“At the high-school level,” Gillick told USA TODAY Sports, “the coaches get these kids in revenue-driven sports, and take them away from baseball. There’s so much pressure on these kids to even play spring football.

“We need to get the African American players back in the game, which I think would make it not only a better game, but more exciting and entertaining for everyone.”

Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg owners will head the committee, with Detroit Tigers vice president Dave Dombrowski as the vice president.

The other committee members include: Hall of Famer Frank Robinson; MLB vice presidents Tom Brauswell, Wendy Lewis, Jonathan Mariner, Kim Ng and Darrell Miller; Tony Clark of the players association; Chicago White Sox vice president Kenny Williams; Roger Cador, coach of Southern University; Dennis Gilbert, special assistant to Chicago White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf; Larry Dolan of the Cleveland Indians; Derrick Hall, president of the Arizona Diamondbacks; former manager Jerry Manuel; Frank Marcos of the MLB scouting bureau; and Pat O’Conner, president of minor league baseball.

Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan hopes the committee will help, but also believes that baseball needs to improve its representation in the front offices and the field. There are three African-American managers — Dusty Baker of Cincinnati, Ron Washington of Texas and Bo Porter of Houston — and Mike Hill of the Miami Marlins is the only African-American general manager.

“There has to be more involvement to attract athletes to come to baseball,” Morgan told USA TODAY Sports. “I thought the NFL was worse, with the way they handled all of their jobs, and that none were given to African-American coaches. Truthfully, we can’t go in that direction and hope this things turns around.”

Major League Baseball launched its RBI program (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) in 1989, and has built four urban academies with three others being developed. There have been more than 200 RBI participants drafted, including 14 in last year’s draft. There were also seven African-American athletes selected in the first round of last year’s June Draft, the most since 1992.