Sunday, January 10, 2010

ABCA Convention

Pro Baseball has the winter baseball (and by extension, collegiate wood-bat baseball) has the ABCA convention. Admittedly, while I had heard of the ABCA, I had never bothered to give it a look because I thought it was only for coaches. But, I joined (so that I could go to the convention) and our baseball staff headed down to Dallas, TX this past week for the adventure of the ABCA.

Jeff (Cirillo, one of our owners), manager JC Biagi (also an assistant at Walla Walla Community College), Mark Michaud (also the pitching coach at Whitman College), and I loaded up and headed down south, where balmy temperatures of...20 degrees awaited us. The convention was held at the Hilton Anatole (same hotel that hosted the winter meetings in 2005), and over 3500 coaches (at least it seemed like that many) from college and high school programs were there, in addition to many of the scouting departments from MLB teams. (On a tangent - it is mildly exciting when a scouting coordinator for an MLB team glances over your roster and nods in agreement to 3 or 4 of the players with a "yep, I've heard of him..." - we are finding the right players) I realized how intertwined the game is and how a man that I only recently met - Mike Gillespie, head coach at UC-Irvine - has indirectly had such a profound effect on my career in baseball.

Gillespie, of course, was the head coach at USC, where he led one of the most successful programs in the country, winning a national championship. He coached Jeff Cirillo, who of course is a big influence on our organization, and mentored Abe Flores, the director of player development for the LA Angels, who was a major influence on me when I was with the Owlz (the Angels Pioneer League affiliate). After meeting Coach Gillespie, I can see why the majority of the men he produces are such quality individuals, both on and off the field. He was gracious, kind to everyone he met, and obviously loves the game and the most important asset within the game - the relationships with people.

The conference was great for another reason: it energized me for the 2010 season and marked the beginning of "Baseball 24/7" in Walla Walla. We have a little over five months to go! We were able to finalize a few players from top conferences while we were there (meeting coaches face-to-face is invaluable), and finalized our radio deal (all games home and away will be broadcast live on KTEL 1490 - check out the story here). But, as coach Michaud said as we were riding to the airport, you leave ready to start the season, full of momentum and energized by thousands of coaches and front offices gearing up for America's Pastime.

1 comment:

  1. Zach,

    I was surprised by the energy at the convention too. A much better experience than I could have imagined. Great to hangout with you and the boys in the Big D!