U.S. College and Minor-Pro Coaching Veteran Dennis Rogers to Head West Coast League Franchise

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Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

VICTORIA, B.C. (ISN) –  Victoria’s West Coast League franchise took its next major step forward Tuesday when it named Dennis Rogers, current head coach at California’s Riverside Community College, as its Head Coach for 2013, and that Bob Miller, presently Head Coach at California’s Cuesta College, will serve as Co-Head Coach.

Rogers is currently Head Coach at Riverside Community College in California, where he has led his team to three state junior college championships. Rogers also successfully managed in the Pittsburgh Pirates and Oakland A’s minor league organizations, including a two-year stint with the Vancouver Canadians in 2003-2004.

“It has taken us some time to get a head coach in place” noted team Co-Owner John McLean, “but we wanted to make sure we had the right type of person, a leader, a mentor, someone who had experience at all levels of baseball, but most importantly who had solid connections with the U.S. college programs.  Dennis is that guy and is well respected in baseball circles as a great mentor and has had many of his players move onto success in the NCAA and MLB.  Players will be drawn to Victoria by the opportunity to be coached by Dennis.”

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Riverside Community College Head Coach Dennis Rogers will be the field manager for Victoria’s West Coast League team in 2013 (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

In addition to meeting the media Tuesday, Rogers also met beforehand with members of the Victoria Baseball community, including representatives from the Greater Victoria Baseball Association, the Victoria Eagles Premier and the Victoria Marniers Premier programs, to discuss his coaching philosophy.

During the meet and greet, Rogers stressed that he wanted to maintain an “open door” policy with the key baseball and softball associations in town and that his practices are always open for coaches to come down and watch, learn and participate.  “I’ve run open practices anywhere I’ve been and it is great for coaches to come and learn what we are doing and why.  I also like to have the coaches participate and pass their knowledge on to my players.  I’d also like to have perhaps weekly coaching sessions with local coaches, engage each other and discuss the technical sides of the game so we can learn from each other and pass each other knowledge that will benefit all of us in coaching the game.”

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Head Coach Dennis Rogers (right) meets with members of Victoria’s minor baseball community, including (left to right), Martin Winstanley (Victoria Eagles), Art Celuszak (Greater Victoria Baseball Association) and Adrian Somers (Victoria Mariners)(Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

As to being in Victoria, Rogers noted, “It’s an exciting opportunity to be part of building this new WCL franchise in Victoria, a city with a great baseball tradition and a strong base of supporters and fans,” said Rogers.  “I’d like to thank John and Dwight for the opportunity to lead this new team and I look forward to working with them and Holly (General Manager) to build a baseball team and a culture here that the city will be proud of.” 

Co-Head Coach Bob Miller (who was not present at the announcement) is entering his tenth year as Head Coach at Cuesta College in California. His coaching career has included positions with the Anchorage Glacier Pilots, where his team won three Alaska Baseball Championships and the NBC National Baseball Championship in 2001, Oral Roberts University, University of Redlands and Southwestern Michigan College.

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Dennis Rogers (right) renews acquaintences with well-know Victoria baseball instructor and coach Marty Hall (left)(Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

“I am really looking forward to coaching alongside Dennis as we bring high calibre baseball back to Victoria,” said Miller in a statement.

“Having coached at the minor league and college levels, Dennis and Bob have the experience and contacts to put together a first-class baseball team. Watching these aspiring pros pursue their baseball dreams will give Victoria fans plenty to cheer about and inspire a new generation of local players,” said team Co-Owner John McLean.

Asked about the need and logistics of a dual head coaching role, Rogers was comfortable in what his and Miller’s roles will be.  “Bob and I have coached together before and he has had great success in building players and teams and the culture around them.  Having two head coaches will help us control the players a bit more and help us share responsibilities on teaching simple etiquette rules and team rules to these young players.  It will also allow us both to flow through practices, as we can both work with the different positional players and not have just one of us focusing on for example, outfielders.  It also give me someone that I can share ideas with. He’s a very intuitive guy and we are going to do some out of the box things, so it will be good to have someone to bounce ideas off of.”

Rogers also cautioned those in attendance that some patience may be required with his young team in the early part of the year and that while winning was important, it is a secondary by-product of other factors.  “Winning can come in many forms. Obviously at the end of the day you want the “W” but winning is bred over a period of time. We may have struggles here in early June simply because our roster may not be fully developed at that time, but if we stay on task to what our message is, in July we might get a bit better and then pick it up in August.  As long as our effort is good and if the players can stay focused and manage any crises well, winning will happen, but it may need some patience early on.”

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Coach Rogers addresses the media on Tuesday at Royal Athletic Park (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

The media conference today was also an opportunity for General Manager Holly Jones to provide an update on the Name the Team Contest. “We’ve now received over 500 entries in the contest and are in the final stages of reviewing the naming options and hope to have a decision and a logo to share with you by the end of September or early October. So stay tuned, we have some fantastic submissions and we are excited about making that final decision.”

The inaugural season of WCL baseball in Victoria begins at Royal Athletic Park during the first week of June 2013 and runs through mid-August, with 27 home games and 27 away games. Season and Game Day ticket information will be announced in the coming months.

Visit www.victoriabaseballclub.com and sign up for the team’s newsletter for all the latest updates.

About the West Coast League

The West Coast League features a competitive level of play and recruits players from high-calibre baseball programs at colleges and universities across North America. With the additions of Victoria and Medford, Oregon the League will have 11 teams in play for the 2013 season.

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