BaseballcoachBy Francine Thompson

Since the arrival of director and head varsity coach Vincent Gervais, the Bonita Vista High School baseball program is not only a place where students have an opportunity to play the sport they love. Alternatively, the guiding principle is to improve the character of young Barons and provide them with the motivation they need to achieve success long after they are handed their diploma. Looking toward the future, Gervais recently hired two new coaches to oversee the progress of the program’s younger players.

“I wanted to help kids who probably needed some direction,” Junior Varsity coach Daniel Silvas said.

Silvas is no stranger to baseball and all of its challenges. He played at Eastlake High School then went on to play at various California colleges including San Diego Mesa College, Sonoma State University, and Patten University in Oakland. In the off seasons, he started his coaching career at 17 years old by helping adolescents in the San Diego area who shared the same passion for the sport and had a hankering for guidance.

“I would come and work with kids, do camps and clinics,” Silvas said. “I now have a baseball academy that I do all year long.”

After leaving his position at Sweetwater High School, Silvas arrived at Bonita to help mold the MLB-hopefuls into strong athletes and scholars, as his high school coaches did for him. Silvas aims to keep all of his players eligible to play by ensuring their scholastic success and pushing them to acquire a GPA above the school- and CIF-required minimum.

“I want to get these kids to college anyway I can help them and be sure they are academically challenging themselves,” Silvas said.

The coaching veteran’s main responsibility as Junior Varsity Coach is to prepare them to move up the ranks to play at the next level. He sees promise in the young Barons and hopes to assist them in improving their abilities and transition them into mature players ready to field whatever the ballgame or school throws at them.

“These kids [at Bonita] are hungry and I see that they are willing to get better,” Silvas said.

Going into his tenth season of coaching Bonita Vista Barons, but thirtieth total coaching year, Gervais plans on implementing fresh, but fundamental, methods to refine the teams’ skills, paying special attention to the Varsity team– who was 17-13 last season. He wants the players to focus on “just playing the game of baseball,” using a simplistic strategy to find the easiest way to win. This technique requires a precision that both Silvas and Freshman coach Jason Bendorf possess.

Bendorf, who is still an avid baseball player, boasts 12 years of coaching expertise and took the position at Bonita Vista to instruct using the proper approach. He plans to utilize a conventional style in coaching freshmen Baron players.

“The kids are coming up kind of misused in baseball, they are not being trained the right way. I want everybody to have the know-how and the right way to do things so they don’t get hurt,” Bendorf said.

Gervais agrees that this dilemma exists and acknowledges that in years past, Junior Varsity players move up to Varsity with a lower preparedness level than is required for the team. The two recently added coaches aim to break this bad habit. Gervais admits that there are also are other areas that need improvement: discipline and attitude. The program has a strict grade policy and suspends players who have F’s on the six week progress reports. This system discourages players from abandoning their schoolwork.

“As long as you show up and work hard, you’re gonna get better, in the classroom and on the field,” Silvas said.

Additionally, Gervais plans to control the egos that can get in the way of effective ballplay by paying careful attention to how the players act on the field. He noted that the players’ often hyperfocus on the numbers aspect of baseball and don’t realize that they’re actually hurting their game.

DSC_0088“Batting average is what gets our heads too big. The guys go up there thinking that they’ve gotta get a hit, but they don’t. They just have to be productive,” Gervais said.

That productivity is spurred by the new coaches who serve as teachers, but additionally as mentors, walking onto the field at 3 P.M. for practice each day with in-depth baseball experience and outlooks that keep the players propelling forward.

“They have a good background in baseball and teach from past experiences with their own baseball careers and they know how to play the game the right way,” Varsity team member Christian Marmolejo, junior, said.

Other players agree that the new coaches are an asset to the program. They motivate and teach the students to be well-rounded on and off the field, equating to an optimistic outlook for the Barons’ spring season. Upcoming games include those against schools like Eastlake High School and Otay Ranch High School, who Gervais believes will neglect the nuances of baseball.

“The bigger schools this season are stacked with good ballplayers, but I think that they’re just going to play the game; they’re not going to have that eye for fine detail. They’re going to wait for something to happen,” Gervais said.

As the three teams get narrowed at tryouts February 22, and egos get trimmed down, Gervais’s plan will be put to the test; but with such a knowledgeable group of program managers, Bonita Vista’s baseball is eagerly gearing up to gain momentum for this year and years to come.

“We’re gonna be a team that makes it happen,” Gervais said.