A New Sheriff in Town

A new coaching era begins for the baseball program

James Salazar

Staff Writer

After years of Tom Bischofberger and Brian Hashimoto leading the varsity and junior varsity teams respectively for American High’s baseball program, this year both teams’ coaching staffs were rehauled as Steve Jespersen took over the varsity program, and Ken Kalning replaced Hashimoto as head of the junior varsity team.

When Jespersen, father of current varsity shortstop Josh Jespersen, took over for the varsity team, it marked the first time in over a decade in which a head coach other than Bischofberger ran the team. When the news originally broke that there would be new coaching staffs, players were generally surprised.

“When I first heard of the coaching staff I was honestly surprised, [but] I was also very excited,” outfielder Mohammad Asad (12) said.

“I didn’t know what to think of it until it actually happened,” third baseman Tyler Bernath (12) said. “But when I stepped on the field on day one, the new coach welcomed me with open arms and I felt like American was in good hands. I do not prefer any coach over the other; both were very good and I learned a lot.”

Early on, it seems that the new coaching staff has done well to endear themselves to the players.

American’s new varsity head coach, Steve Jespersen, hits infield to his team before the American v. Newark Memorial game held on April 24, 2015. The addition of Jespersen marks American’s first new varsity head coach in over a decade.
American’s new varsity head coach, Steve Jespersen, hits infield to his team before the American v. Newark Memorial game held on April 24, 2015. The addition of Jespersen marks American’s first new varsity head coach in over a decade.

“[When the] new coaching staff took over you could see the changes and feel the energy they brought to the program,” Asad said. “Not to take anything away from the previous coaching staff, but I am much more comfortable around this staff than the previous staff. I also feel that this staff is much more committed. It is fun talking to the coaches, and the players are much more comfortable and our chemistry is very high. Our coach provides us with great utilities and takes great care of the field and us. He puts in countless hours and we as a team appreciate it.”

“The coaches really encourage us to do better on and off of the field,” first year player Joseph Marquez (11) said. “The bonds they teach us to have with each other is strong with varsity and JV. And most of all, they really care about each and everyone of us.”

The players can’t quite put a finger on it but, there is something about the new coaching staffs that has the players thinking big this season. While their season record is generally on the same pace as last year, their optimism has increased marginally.

“I’ve never really had bad coaches but these [new] ones top the list,” Marquez said. “I think we have something really special this year.”

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