It's somewhat surprising that nothing has appeared in the local newspapers or even the blogs about former Claremont High School baseball coach Mike Lee, who was not retained as the school's baseball coach for 2008-2009.
With all of the attention that came with his arrival, and a bit more in the local blogs during the season, it's a surprise the Claremont Courier or Inland Valley Daily Bulletin haven't even mentioned it. The news has evaded the likes of the prep columns in the L.A. Times and the prep bloggers...
It's probably good that they aren't making a big deal about it, because nobody needs to be put on display in front of the world when things don't go well. Let's hope it stays somewhat calm until the new coach arrives. The impression I get is that CHS and CUSD administrators are already looking for a replacement, but that they will publicly post the position and go through the search process. No word on when they hope to have a new coach on board, and it's unclear if they are looking for a baseball coach who will also be a teacher or coach in the school district. Lee coached PE and is reportedly returning to that role for one more year.
I hope the new coach will continue Lee's concept of assembling a real baseball program from top to bottom, and will bring together players and coaches from the varsity, junior varsity and freshman teams not only for practice, but to teach fundamentals and team goals. The thing that was missing -- and apparently has been missing for several years and can only be established over time -- is a program that focuses on developing players through the ranks. For example, players at the freshman and junior varsity levels should get the kind of instruction that prepares them for what the coaches want to see at the varsity level. Practices need to be instructional and productive. That was certainly lacking at the freshman level this year. The team was successful, and won the Baseline League title, and the coach was a nice guy and a decent game manager, but the team's practices were not productive and the players didn't learn and develop the way they should. Aside from a handful of players who play for good coaches in the offseason, the freshman team was lacking in fundamental instruction. That's primarily because there simply wasn't enough staff to run the type of practices they needed. When the coach got extra help from some volunteers, the players were able to make more progress.
The overall program should be paying attention to players all the way down the line, so those kids will be ready to play at a higher level. All of the coaches throughout the program need to be on the same page with the same goals. My observation is that, while the players worked out together at the start of the year, that's where the common teaching techniques ended. There is a great coach in place at the JV level, and I hope Bob Smith stays on in that role. He's doing a good job with the summer American Legion program, and he brings a lot to the CHS teams.