By John M. Sherrard
WALNUT-With many kids sporting new gloves after Christmas, the Second Annual San Gabriel Valley ‘Get to College’ Youth Baseball Clinic drew 464 kids from four to 14 years of age at Mt. San Antonio College Wednesday night at Mazmanian Field.
The massive group of future diamond hopefuls were spread out among the baseball complex and softball fields from 5:00 to 8:00 pm receiving instruction from numerous college and high school coaches and current professional baseball players.
Under the direction of former Bishop Amat player Eric Valenzuela, the current St. Mary’s of Moraga head coach had the idea for awhile and once he and former San Gabriel Valley players Gabe Alvarez (Bishop Amat) and Sergio Brown (Mountain View) came up with the plan, social media took care of the rest.
Alvarez and Brown are current assistant coaches at USC and Arizona State respectively.
“I’ve always wanted to do something like this,” said Valuezuela, who is entering his fifth season as St. Mary’s coach. “Now that I’m a head coach it makes sense.
“I always wanted to give back (to the SGV). I recruit kids from this area all the time. Last year we just said ‘let’s do it.’ I can’t thank Mt. SAC enough.”
The clinic was offered free of charge to all of the attendees who also received t-shirts and over 200 raffle prizes were given out.
The latest area player to play for Valenzuela and was also an instructor, is 2017 Bonita graduate Nathan Schneider.
Offering up the Mt. SAC facility was second-year baseball coach John Knott.
“It was awesome to see so many young kids, not only about baseball, but about the opportunity to go on to play in college,” said Knott.
Among the 50 instructors were Division I and II college coaches, junior college and high school coaches and current minor league baseball players.
Current CIF-Southern Section Assistant Commissioner Glen Martinez, who coached Valenzuela when Amat won a 1996 CIF-SS Division I baseball title, was also among the instructors.
Local high school graduates Ty France (South Hills) and Bubba Derby (La Salle), who are currently in the Padres and Brewers organization respectively, along with Redlands East Valley graduate Zach Kirtley (Cardinals) were among the current professional baseball players in attendance.
In addition, current Div. I players Cody Dye (University of New Mexico), who was a member of the 2017 CIF champion Walnut Mustangs and Johnathan Guardado (Nogales) were assisting in the clinic. Guardado is playing at the University of Arizona this coming season.
Also helping with the clinic was Charter Oak coach Elias Chavez, Ayala coach Chris Vogt, junior college head coach Mike Cordero of Chaffey, Pasadena City College assistant coach Richard Escalera and Azusa Pacific University assistants George Barnes and Jerry Pena.
“The use of the (Mt. SAC) facility was unbelievable,” said Valenzuela, who played at ASU and Pepperdine. “We also know how special San Gabriel Valley kids are.”