New culture paying off for Desert Vista baseball | Sports

There’s no doubt Desert Vista High School has one of the best long-standing traditions in Arizona.

From the patented navy blue and gold color scheme to the school fight song that replicates the University of Notre Dame, both of those go right along with the tradition of excellence with the Thunder athletic programs. But there comes a time for every team when change is needed.

Enter Pat Herrera.

“We wanted to keep things fresh. I didn’t want them to wear the same stuff as last year, that comes with a new staff, a new brand, ”Herrera said. “I want them to take pride in who they are and where they play. So that’s where the ‘Vista Boys’ thing came into play. It’s something small, but it’s something different. I want them to be a part of the family and bring them together. “

Herrera was hired to take over the Desert Vista baseball program after the school parted ways with former coach Cody Brassfield.

His previous stops include Skyline, where he turned around a struggling program and led it to the semifinals, and Desert Ridge before that. While coaching the Jaguars, he led them to two state titles in 2009-10.

Herrera stepped down from Skyline in June after his son, Patrick, graduated. Herrera also coached his older son di lui, AJ, at Skyline during his tenure di lui. AJ now attends the University of San Diego. Patrick, a high-level baseball recruit and standout basketball player at Skyline, is now playing for Northwestern.

Initially, Herrera aimed to step away from coaching to watch Patrick. But when the Desert Vista job opened, he knew it was a destination he wanted to be at.

“I love it here,” Herrera said. “As much as I said we changed some things, the tradition of Desert Vista baseball, it’s satisfying trying to build this back up.”

Upon arriving at Desert Vista, he immediately went to work on the field. He spent countless hours prepping everything from the grass to the dirt to the batting cages for the upcoming season. In both of his previous stops he wanted to make sure his team had top-notch facilities. Desert Vista was no different.

A wall behind the home bleachers at the stadium was repainted a solid navy with the team’s new identity, ‘Vista Boys,’ in bold white letters. The same moniker is on shirts and warmups the players and coaches have this season. New caps were also ordered for the

team. One has the classic ‘DV’ logo with the letters intertwined together. Another has a simple ‘V.’

“We want to play with some swag this year,” senior infielder Joey Gentile said. “We’ve been so traditional the whole time I’ve been at DV. We want to be more comfortable. We’re the Vista Boys, not just Desert Vista baseball. “

The changes to the program have been welcomed by players such as Gentile and Brady Thomas, two of the team’s top seniors.

A new team mantra, new team identity and new uniforms are all ways Herrera believes he can make this a new era for Desert Vista baseball.

“We knew it was time for a change, it’s a swagger thing,” Thomas said. “We play with more confidence knowing we aren’t the same as last year.”

The season started off rocky, with the Thunder dropping two games to Mountain View and 5A Canyon View. But those two were followed by three straight wins against two of 4A’s best in Mesquite and Salpointe Catholic, as well as a tie with Mountain Ridge – one of the favorites to contend with Hamilton for the 6A title.

The Thunder went on to win four straight games in the Bob Everett Classic before falling to Mesquite.

Just two weeks into the new season and they’ve already surpassed their win total from last season.

“A lot of the games that we’ve won this year, I look back and think that we may not have won that last year,” Thomas said. “I think we would’ve given up some runs and not be able to come away with the win. But not this year. “

The players have bought into Herrera’s mindset and coaching style. “We went from rolling over a lot last year and now we are attacking teams,” Gentile said, adding:

“It really has to do with the coaching and positivity that they have brought. We are really realizing our capabilities. “

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