“Grind” for Coben

Corben Project Fullerton, CA

Photos courtesy Matt Brown

Cal State Fullerton head coach Rick Vanderhook is well known across the country as a relentless and proficient recruiter, so it comes as no surprise when the Titans roll out their blue-chip recruiting classes year after year.

Corben Project Fullerton, CAThis past October was no different, when Coben Swanson, who is fighting Acute Lymphoblastic Lymphoma (ALL), signed his Letter of Commitment at a press conference held at Goodwin Field.

“It started with [Assistant Director of Marketing and Fan Engagement for Cal State Fullerton Athletics] Becca Dobbs, who asked me about it over the summer and I said absolutely, do whatever you need to do, we’re in,” said Vanderhook.

Last Spring, Dobbs began to correspond with Team IMPACT, a non-profit organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life for children facing life-threatening and chronic illnesses through the power of team. To the greatest extent possible, Team IMPACT children sign become members of the teams they sign with.

At the time, there were no matches in the immediate area but eventually, Dobbs got an e-mail with information about Coben, an eight-year old who is fighting ALL and recovering from a double craniectomy, “taking the road less traveled on his way to recovery” (via Team Coben Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/TeamCoben/).

Dobbs reached out to Vanderhook. “Before I could finish sharing Coben’s story with him,” she recalls, “[Vanderhook] said ‘Done! How can we help and get him on our team?’”

A group of Fullerton players routinely visit Coben at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County or his home. “[They are] Coben’s full support team whenever he needs anything,” says Dobbs. “They’ll go over to his house, play with Legos or play video games. He’s way into Star Wars and loves his lightsaber. It’s super humbling for the kids and it gives his mom a break.”

“They’ll go over to his house and play Legos and do video games; he’s way into Star Wars and loves his light saber, they just go over and play with him,” said Vanderhook. “It’s super humbling for the kids and it gives his mom a break.”

“Coben’s story became news and that’s great, but otherwise nobody would know about it, and that’s okay,” added Vanderhook, whose Titan teams do about 1,000 hours of community service on an annual basis.

In addition to a GoFundMe.com page (https://goo.gl/MI18Cw), Titan baseball has promoted ‘Grind’ hats (50% of the proceeds go back to Coben’s family directly) that can be purchased at GrindHats.com/TeamCobenHat

“Those are our hats for the fall and it meshes perfectly with what we’re trying to do on the field every day. We went to one of the Dodgers’ playoff games as a staff and some guy sitting in the row behind us had one of the “Grind” hats on. We asked where he got it and he said he had seen Justin Turner do an interview in Washington wearing the hat!”

“Coben has changed the lives of not just Titan Baseball but all of Titan Athletics,” Dobbs adds. “[He] gained 35 brothers in Titan Baseball, but Titan Baseball gained an inspiration and someone to ‘Grind’ for.”

Becca Dobbs is the Assistant Director of Marketing and Fan Engagement for Cal State Fullerton Athletics

Coben resides in Yorba Linda with his mother, Brittany, little sister, Saffryn and his father, Jon.

In addition to his Facebook page, you can follow Coben’s journey on Instagram and Twitter (@teamcoben)



Cal Poly vs CSF Fullerton, CA

Coach Your Kids… on the details

article by Darren Fenster
Minor League Manager, Boston Red Sox
Founder & CEO, Coaching Your Kids, LLC

Omaha, Nebraska.

Every June, this quaint Midwestern city becomes the pinnacle of the amateur baseball world when it hosts the College World Series.  Every February, it is the destination for all 298 NCAA Division One baseball teams.  It is the goal.  But out of those 298 clubs, only eight get to go.  Only eight get to play for the National Championship.  EIGHT.  It is a special place that only a few special teams get to experience.

This past June, in the bottom of the 10th inning of a tied, deciding game three of the Louisville Super Regional, Cal State Fullerton found itself one run away from its season ending when the leadoff hitter for the Cardinals reached base.

taylor bryant

Taylor Bryant

A sacrifice bunt was in order.  Everyone in the ballpark knew it.  Everybody watching on television knew it.  And Cal State Fullerton’s defense knew it, too… especially their second baseman, Taylor Bryant.

As Louisville’s hitter laid down a textbook sacrifice, Fullerton’s catcher fielded the ball cleanly and without a play at second, shuffled his feet towards first to take the “sure” out.  When the ball left the catcher’s hand, it was apparent that “sure” out would not be recorded; the throw was airmailed over the first baseman’s head, headed for the right field corner. Continue reading

Inside Interview with San Diego’s Rich Hill

Rich Hill (USD photo)

Rich Hill (USD photo)

Rich Hill is in his 26th year as a head coach at the collegiate level, and his 16th at the University of San Diego. He’s had 22 winning seasons and has helped the Toreros to West Coast Conference Championship titles in 2002, 2003, 2007, 2008 and 2010. Last year, he led USD to a 37-25 record and a West Coast Conference Tournament title. He also coached Kris Bryant, who won the Dick Howser Trophy and Golden Spikes Award and was the second overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft.

In addition to guiding the programs at California Lutheran University and the University of San Francisco, Hill was the head coach for the Chatham A’s of the esteemed Cape Cod League (from 1990-93, winning the league title in 1992) and has been an advisor for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree (Physical Education) in 1985 from Cal Lutheran. He played one season of professional baseball in the St. Louis Cardinals organization.

Inside Pitch recently caught up with the high-energy leader of the USD program:

IP: You’ve become well-known for how you implement the mental game in your program. What are some of the things you’re doing?

RH: We pride ourselves on the mental game. We bring in guest speakers and I think we might be the only program in the country that uses meditation and breathing before games. We really concentrate on the breath. We do a lot of imagery and a lot of visualization.

You’re going to spend so much time developing the bodies, you can forget about the mind. When you get to the big league level and even the Division I level, that’s kind of the separator. Everything is about process, and I really think that’s the key to our start this year- our guys are locked just in on process, on toughness, and immersing ourselves in the present moment. Continue reading