Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sports@Lunch with Tony Gwynn and Rich Hill

By Aileen Berran (SMBA '11)

At the beginning of January some of the members of the SMBA '11 had the opportunity to help the San Diego Hall of Champions with their Elite Eight High School Basketball Showcase held at the University of San Diego. For those of you who may not be aware, the San Diego Hall of Champions is the nation's largest multi-sport museum located in beautiful Balboa Park. The San Diego Hall of Champions recognizes San Diego's outstanding athletic accomplishments and traditions, and athletes such as Ted Williams, Tony Gwynn, Bill Walton and many more are honored in the museum.

As a thank you for our help with the event, the Hall of Champions offered us a ticket to their Sports@Lunch with Tony Gwynn and Rich Hill, the San Diego State University and University of San Diego Baseball Head Coaches, respectively. A few members of SMBA '11 joined them as they discussed their respective team's outlook for the upcoming NCAA Baseball season. The event was emceed by Craig Elston, of 619 sports in San Diego, and was conducted as an open forum.

Now, being a baseball fan my entire life it was an honor to hear one of the greatest hitters of all time, Tony Gwynn, discuss his outlook on both the SDSU season and San Diego baseball in general. Tony noted that the quality of baseball in San Diego is great, but they need to find a way to try to keep this talent in the area when the players come of college age. Both men discussed their recruiting strategies and their opinions on the outlook of San Diego College Baseball in the national limelight. They agreed that until either team gets to the College World Series it would be very hard to be known as a dream college for those top prospects in high school.

However, USD is currently ranked #24 in the Collegiate Baseball preseason top-40 poll and SDSU reached the Regionals last year. Tony stated that having former SDSU player Stephen Strasburg, drafted #1 overall by the Washington Nationals in 2009, helped the SDSU program, but it was up to his guys on the current team to build upon that to strengthen their program. Rich Hill stated that his team's strength is their experience and being able to build a great schedule and having a strong RPI can only help them when it comes to College World Series Selection time.

You could tell that both men have great respect for one another, as they discussed the upcoming Black and Blue rivalry games, being held on February 25-28th at both Tony Gwynn Stadium (SDSU campus) and Cunningham Stadium (USD). The SMBA '11 class will definitely be in attendance on the February 25th game cheering on those Aztecs against their in-city rivals. At the end of the lunch, Tony Gwynn was more than happy to sign autographs and even take a picture with the SMBA '11 crew.

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