How About Those Falcons!
College Park Falcon's Varsity Baseball TeamTop row (L to R): Coach Derek Petrak, Coach Kevin Stanley, Joe Demers, Noah Burnham, Trevor Larnach, Head Coach Andy Tarpley, Jack Downing, Josh Nelson, Nick Oar, Coach Kyle Gross, Coach Martin Soares. Middle row (L to R): Manager Carter Hocom, Willie Maciver, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Sam Behrens, Ian Maciver, Chris Brown, Tommy Hammil. Bottom row (L to R): Hank Dare, Jeffrey Mitchell, JR Santiago, Davis Ellington, Evan Gravenmier, Spencer Louis.
By Russ Carroll
Only Ego is Lacking on this Star-Studded Team
The College Park boys varsity baseball team is gearing up to defend their 2014 NCS title. And based on preseason rankings, they are well on their way to doing so. Every high school poll I could find has them ranked in the top two teams in the state. Baseball America has them ranked #1 -- not just in the state, but also in the country! Are you kidding me? College Park High School? From our little town of Pleasant Hill? Yep. That’s who I am talking about!
This team is loaded with star players - all local kids. Seven seniors have been offered (and accepted) scholarships for Division 1 colleges. That’s ridiculous. I think my high school (another local school) has had 7 baseball players go D-1 in 50 years, let alone one year. Most of this team has played together since they were very young. Many of them played Pleasant Hill Baseball Association and started in-house. Some moved on to travel ball, and then several played together at Lamorinda Baseball Club. This is a unique group of very talented kids. Other than their raw talent, their most unique quality may be their lack of ego and genuine appreciation and affection for each other.
I recently met with head coach Andy Tarpley and talked about the team, the chemistry, the past and the future. When asked, “What makes this team special?” his response was simple and quick: “When you’re around these kids, you would never know that any of them are stars until you watch them play. These guys truly play as a team and not as individuals. There are no egos here.” I asked him, “Why College Park?” I knew with his background and past successes that Andy could have taken other head coaching jobs, probably for more money, better facilities and a tradition of success. His response was again simple and quick, “I knew these kids. I knew how good they were. I sensed that something special was going to happen here and it has. There is a sense of community here that does not exist at many other schools. The camaraderie here is unbelievable.” Turns out that coach was right.
In his first season with CP they were 20-5-1. Last year they were 27-3, with an NCS championship. During this meeting, two things were consistent and concise: special group and special community. I found myself being very proud to be part of the community he was referring to. I asked coach what the future looks like next year after the loss of 7 D-1 players and was pleased to hear his response. He expressed his excitement over many of the underclassmen. His quote: ”We’ll be fine.” He said his seniors are always helping the younger players. There are many stars on this team. Shining the brightest is probably Joe Demers -- arguably the best player in the state, if not the country. Coach said that you would never know that by being around him. He is always willing to help younger players. Most players of his ability would be focused purely on themselves. Not Joe. He’s always supportive and helpful.
College Park was recently invited to play in the National High School Invitational Tournament in North Carolina. I can only hope that the championship trophy will fit in the overhead compartment on the plane ride back to Oakland. My suspicion is that this tournament will be the first of many victories for this very special group of kids & coaches this season. I know that I will be attending many of their games this year. If you like baseball and want to witness something special, you should come out as well.
Upcoming Home Games
4/2 CP vs Berean Christian 4pm
4/16 CP vs Concord 4pm
4/21 CP vs Northgate 4pm
4/30 CP vs Ygnacio Valley 4pm