While it may seem like English and New Mission’s baseball teams are on opposite ends of the spectrum, the teams have similar themes as they get ready to launch the 2013 season.
Coach Modesto Gomez has taken the coaching duties for New Mission in the new baseball program's pilot season. He also happened to be the head coach for English last season in their city championship run.
“It was great for the city, how the team became city champs. Especially at English High,” said Ricardo Figueroa, who has filled the void left by Gomez as English’s head coach. “It was a great accomplishment for him and the school too and the city.”
While Figueroa transitioned from O’Bryant, it is a homecoming for Gomez. Before coaching at English, he held the head coach position at Hyde Park high school for eight years.
“I guess it’s a little more nostalgic for me to come back to Hyde Park again,” Gomez said. “It wasn’t the main reason, it was just a challenge and I really like the idea of starting all over again.”
Starting over is exactly what Gomez will be doing. With the exception of shortstop Ansel Rivera and outfielder Jomar Ventura, two New Mission students who played for English last season, Gomez will have a team full of new players. While many will be New Mission students, the team will also be composed of students from Boston Community Leadership Academy.
“It’s fresh, everything is new,” Gomez said. “I like the feeling that everything is new and that makes me work harder.”
Figueroa on the other hand will have a different motivating factor for his ball club. The defending city champions are clearly still the team to beat, according to Gomez.
“I feel comfortable with that. I’ve been through championship teams in my years as a ball player and I feel really comfortable with that. No pressure,” Figueroa said.
With a defense as good as English’s it’s not too hard to feel relaxed. Figueroa even noted it as the biggest strength for the team going into the season.
“We have kids that really know how to handle the glove and we have the arms too,” Figueroa said. “It’s going to be awesome this year. I have high expectations for my team this year.”
Even with the high expectations, the first year coach of English knew that the competition in the city league would not be lacking. He noted both Latin Academy and Madison Park as competitive squads, as well as New Mission.
“He has enough experience to make a good transition,” Figueroa said. “He’s going to be able to make a decent club over there at New Mission.”
But for the coach of the brand new program, it’s all about taking things day by day.
“Just taking baby steps right now and taking it one year at a time and we’ll see,” Gomez said.
That philosophy may be the biggest difference between the two coaches.
“I was thinking the other day about the big picture but I think we’re going to be a top contender at the end,” Figueroa said. “Watch out.”
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