Tired yawns, friendly banter and encouragement between players were punctuated by the smacks of bats against baseballs.
“People are tired. But that’s the grind, right? I tell my guys all the time, it doesn’t matter,” Coach Mark Magdaleno said. “We have to prepare and we’ve got to do it whether we’re tired or we’re a little banged up.”
It’s midnight on Jan 19; the first practice of the baseball season. Magdaleno, affectionately known as “Mags” by his players, says he has used these midnight kick-off practices periodically in his 34 years of coaching.
“These guys, by nature, are really good guys, solid individuals,” he said. “They’re all highly competitive. They wanna work.”
Magdaleno is proud of the program they have built in four years. His teachings are not just about baseball. They are also about life lessons.
“We talk about our process,” he said. “We talk about what we can do to make ourselves better men so that we can become better husbands, fathers, sons and friends.”
They are encouraged as both students and athletes. Magdaleno says over 20 of his players are on the honor roll and have transferred to four year colleges on scholarships.
Famous men who have impacted the world are Magdaleno’s examples for living right. He has used quotes from Sun Tzu, Malcolm X and Abraham Lincoln.
“People don’t realize Abraham Lincoln had more failures than successes,” Magdaleno said. “Life isn’t about success, it’s about failure and how you bounce back up.”
Carson Doyle, outfielder, says he sees a difference in himself from when joined at 18, and who he is three years later. He is more focused, determined and mentally strong.
“Just overall a better person because I came here and I paid my dues as a student,” Doyle said.
Doyle graduated in Spring 2018 with a business transfer degree. He is staying at Clark to complete classes he wanted to take but did not have the ability to due to his schedule, he said. His interests include Spanish, piano, psychology and sociology.
Last year, Doyle played in one of Clark’s toughest games against Mt. Hood. Getting a chance at bat, he hit a triple, managing to run all the way to third base. Doyle’s score contributed to the team’s victory against the Saints.
Campbell Dace left Clark for another scholarship program, but returned because he felt be could learn more from Magdaleno.
“It’s not the way Mags coaches, but what he tries to do in the midst of coaching,” Dace said.
Developing a strong work ethic, learning life lessons and playing baseball is important to Dace. Joining the team at 18, he had no idea what it was like to be an adult. After going to school and practice eight to 10 hours a day, then going home and realizing he had homework and chores to do was a test of his character.
“You could be lazy and not many people would know. But you know,” he said. “If it doesn’t bug you, there’s something wrong.”
Dace said his proudest moment was when he realized he would be more successful doing things the right way.
Recently, Magdaleno recounted a famous parable.
“Inside of me there are two dogs. One is mean and evil and the other is good and they fight each other all the time. When asked which one wins I answer, the one I feed the most.”
Magdaleno told his team, they have a dog that wants to find the easy road which is littered with broken hopes and dreams. They also have a dog that wants to take the hard road and do things the right way all the time.
“That’s what we’re doin’ here tonight,” he said of the Midnight practice. “We’re beatin’ everybody to work on our very first day.”