Gritty Mentality

Coach Magdaleno watches intently during Clark’s baseball game against Pacific University on March 19. (Special to the Independent by Kylee Williams).

Head coach Mark Magdaleno looks out on the field on March 19. (Special to the Independent by Kylee Williams).

Special to the Independent byKylee Williams

Williams is a Journalism and Media Broadcasting major who was unable to work for the Independent during the Spring Quarter due to scheduling conflicts. Williams said she plans to be on the Indy staff starting Fall Quarter and is currently working on her News Media Certificate. Williams said she has loved sports since she began playing T-ball at 3-years-old. She transitioned to basketball at 5-years-old and was recruited by Clark College 14 years later. 

On a sunny March afternoon, players are decked out in blue and white uniforms, each coach sports the same black, half-zip sweatshirt with a big blue and white “C” on the left chest, representing Clark College. The field in Wilsonville, Oregon is a clean-cut, green and tan turf. The temperature, mixed with the warm wind, is just right for a competitive game of baseball.

Coach Mark “Mags” Magdaleno, hired as the official head coach of the Clark College baseball team midway last season, huddles with the team in anticipation of the game.

After enduring the a late hire last year, just three weeks before the league season began, Magdaleno helped to turn the program around and ended last season with a 19-9 record.  He said he plans to make his team a force to be reckoned with.

“We knew once we got on the field and were able to practice and get after what we do, that we would be a decent ball club,” Magdaleno said.

This is Magdaleno’s 33rd season coaching, according to the Clark athletics website.

Having coached in nine different programs, from Colorado to Southern California, Magdaleno said he has found his niche for building programs, making them competitive and long standing.

“I love building things… I’ve built programs before. People aren’t gonna say they hired the wrong guy. I can build this program one brick at a time,” Magdaleno said.

Magdaleno plans to build up Clark’s baseball team slowly and purposefully.

“Instead of putting the roof on before I put up the walls, instead of putting the walls up before I lay the foundation, we can lay the foundation and we can take our time and we can build something that is going to last,” Magdaleno said.

From 1947 to 1968, Clark had a high winning percentage in its baseball program. Clark played in the Northwest Athletic Conference Championship 14 times in 21

Derek Browne pitches for Clark’s March 19 game against Pacific University (Special to the Independent by Kylee Williams).

years, according to the NWAC website. Over time, however, there was a decline in the baseball team’s record and Clark became an undesirable program to play for.

If players had a choice between Clark and another school, chances are they would go with the latter, assistant coach Anthony Murillo said.

When Murillo coached at Lower Columbia Community College, he said, he wouldn’t need to play his best guys against Clark, and his team would still come out on top.

“When we went out on the recruiting road, if it was between Lower Columbia and Clark, LCC would get that player by 100 percent,” Murillo said.

After disbanding in 1992 due to repeated lack of success and players’ academic failures, baseball returned to Clark in 2011.

Magdaleno and his staff are looking to take the program to another level. They said they hope to bring back a sense of pride and worth, not only to the program, but to the players, alumni, athletic department and the community.

“This is my goal, to recruit the kind of guys that represent Clark College, the athletic department and our families in a way that brings some pride to everybody,” Magdaleno said.

 

Magdaleno bases his coaching style and work ethic on his mantra: nothing comes easy and everything takes work, it’s those who accept that who come out on top.

“There are two roads, the easy road and the hard road. The easy road is human nature… But the Fort Vancouver Way, that is the hard road, and you have to be the toughest guy on the planet mentally and physically to take that road,” Magdaleno said.

Head coach Mark Magdaleno steps on the pitcher’s mound for a quick talk during a recent game. (Special to the Independent by Kylee Williams).

His coaching style is aggressive, hands-on, loud, and humorous. He expects the best from his players in every aspect of their lives — from their efforts on the field, to the classroom and their home lives.

“We work, we grind and we compete on a daily basis,” Magdaleno said.

He believes that creating personal relationships with each player will make it much easier to come together as a team and fight through the tough times.

“I’m gonna get on you and I’m gonna praise you,” says Magdaleno. “But I’ll always fight for my guys. It’s a loyalty thing.”

He firmly believes that life lessons and baseball go hand in hand. Magdaleno strives to turn bad moments into teaching moments and hopes to make an impact on his players’ lives.

“We are gonna have bad moments, but we are not allowed to have bad days here. You’ve got to be able to get through the potholes of life and the potholes of being an athlete,” Magdaleno said.

His players connect to his teaching style in a positive way.

“He would take situations like players lashing out and players not feeling comfortable where they were at and use that as a learning opportunity rather than a punishment,” sophomore pitcher Bryce Sanford said.

Magdaleno says that he only has three rules for his players, and that each rule directly helps develop better athletes, students and people.

Rule number one: Be on time. Be on time to practice, to class, to meetings.

Rule number two: Play hard. Play hard in games, study hard in classes, work hard at a  job, work hard to get to a good place in life.

Rule number three: Do the right thing. Do the right thing in practice, games, on the field, in a player’s position and do the right thing by studying and going to class.

Magdaleno has also based his vision on “The Five C’s.” They are communication, competitive greatness, composure, courage, and class.

When it comes to composure, Magdaleno expects his players to learn to stay calm in tough and uncomfortable situations. He said he wants them to prepare in a way that allows them to expect the unexpected and never shy away.

“Get comfortable being uncomfortable,” Magdaleno said.

The foundation that Magdaleno laid has spread through the team like wildfire over the past two years. Co-captains Alex Rivera and Alec Cook believe in the vision wholeheartedly, even adapting Magdaleno’s vocabulary.

“We grind all year, from when we get here in August ‘till we leave in June,” Rivera said.

“Our mentality is to win every day,” adds Cook.

But it’s not just about winning, Sanford said.

“We never talk about winning, we just talk about doing our job and playing hard and what comes of that comes of that,” Sanford said.

Magdaleno said he aimed to gain the respect of his players from the very first minute he stepped on the field — to him, it’s what brings success.

“I believe that coaches need to earn respect and loyalty through their actions and through their knowledge of the game and how they treat people, so I wanted to earn that respect and loyalty first,” Magdaleno said.

Player Grant Fisher speaks to Magdaleno’s goal to gain the team’s respect:

“We wanted to play for him, we wanted to be his guys, perform under him, because we respected him and he respected us. We learned to play for him, and we’d fight to the death for him too,” Fisher said.

Another piece of Magdaleno’s puzzle of success is his coaching staff. He believes that each staff member has an important role to play and should be accountable for it.

“I want coaches who are better than me at what they do. I have always believed that you hire guys to coach and coaching is just a synonym for teaching,” Magdaleno said.

Having been out of the coaching scene for a little bit, Murillo attributes his return to coaching to Magdaleno.

“I would not have even looked at coming to Clark College as a coach if it wasn’t for Coach Magdaleno. We are like the Lone Ranger and Tonto. We love each other, we fight with each other, but at the end of the day if I didn’t believe in what he was doing here, I wouldn’t be here,” Murillo said.

The players understand what Magdaleno is trying to accomplish.

“As good as Mags is as a head coach, he is only as good as the guys he has behind him and he made sure that his assistant coaches are top-notch,” Sanford said.

Magdaleno has already begun to take the program to the next level and sees big things for it in the future. He said this is the last stop in his coaching career, and he intends to make the most of it.

The team hopes to make it to the championship this year. “From a program standpoint, I think it would be huge if we got to the tournament,” Cook said.

But the coach is less focused on winning and more on working hard.

“We don’t talk about wins and losses here,” he says. “We talk about preparation, we prepare,” Magdaleno said.

The Penguins are off to a good start, beginning the season with a 4-2 record. The plan is to keep going up from there.

“We put in the work, and now it’s time that we get to compete against someone with a different jersey on. It’s go time,” Cook said.

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