Gavilan without baseball skipper

McCormick heads to Chico State; Rams begin search for new
GILROY – State budget cut brought its first casualty to the Gavilan College Athletic Program as head baseball coach Mike McCormick turned in his letter of resignation this week – leaving the Rams after two seasons for an full-time assistant job at Chico State.

“It’s a surprise and it’s not a surprise – especially when you have part-time coaches. It’s not the greatest job security. On top of it, it’s hard to make a living to support yourself in this area,” Athletic Director Ron Hannon said. “It’s a bittersweet type of situation we’re in. We wish Mike all the success in his efforts to move on to the next level at a four-year school. He played college ball at Chico and was an assistant at Chico before came here.”

McCormick inherited a 1-41 team when he arrived at Gavilan College and immediately made an impact – winning five games his first season without much time to recruit and then upped the win total to 14 in his sophomore campaign. He returns to Chico State – where he was an assistant on the college’s national championship squad a few years ago.

“The program definitely was moving in the right direction,” Hannon said. “Right now, we have a local search. I have basically a short list of names and I have made some phone calls to some coaches who are very capable of continuing the success of the program.”

Second-year assistant coach Kent Cote is one candidate to take over for McCormick – who also taught several hours in Gavilan’s fitness center for more income before state budget cuts forced the college to reduce the sections of classes it could offer.

“It’s a good move for him. Unfortunately, we were on the verge of cracking this thing wide open. I don’t expect this to be a setback. It’s a delay,” Hannon said. “I anticipate having someone on board within next week. I’m confident we’ll be able to do that. For me, baseball season started today, the first day of school.”

Freshman John Kirkish – an outfielder and pitcher out of Gilroy High – went to his first day of school on Tuesday at Gavilan College only to be told by a friend in class that the man who recruited him was gone.

“I was really shocked,” Kirkish said. “He’s awesome, too. He’s an excellent coach. I just feel like he was building something and he doesn’t get to finish what he started. He was building a really good program.”

Kirkish remained positive about the surprising news, though, even if it means he has to prove himself all over again to a new coach.

“I know what I can do. I’m not worried about it if I play like I know I can,” said Kirkish, who will be at Thursday’s first team meeting to discuss the situation. “It just makes me want to prove myself more.”

Kirkish and the rest of his teammates will start practicing next week – likely with Cote leading practices until a coach is hired or he is named himself. The fall league begins next week as well.

“That will be the new coach’s responsibility,” Hannon said. “The program is not falling apart. It’s just moving forward. We’re happy and excited for Coach McCormick… (Our players) are going to be excited with the new coach we bring in.”

The baseball season officially begins Jan. 15.