Telford Lays The Building Blocks At Far Rockaway
By Elio Velez
It's that simple fact that Tom Telford took from his stay as a junior varsity coach and varsity assistant coach at James Monroe Campus High School.
Making a winning program though does not happen overnight in the high school level. At Far Rockaway H.S., the second year head coach has encountered the growing pains of a 1-15 campaign last year.
The first game for the Seahorses on Wednesday didn't go so well. August Martin sophomore pitcher Emerson Morillo held the Seahorses to one run and struck out 14 batters in five innings. The Falcons easily won 10-0 in Far Rockaway's season opener of the PSAL Queens South B campaign.
Seahorses' pitcher Ariel Bardales gave up three runs in 1/3 of an inning to get the loss.
Starting the year 0-1 can be unpleasant but Telford has the present and future already mapped out. One loss will not tear up the blueprint he's drawn up. "This is a building progress coming from a program like Monroe and working with that organization," Telford said.
"These kids have a lot of heart and that's what I like. I got a young team of freshman and sophomores. If they can get work now and some more work in organized ball in the summer, I expect them to be better."
Monroe High School and their successful head coach Mike Turo are one of the elite programs in the city. They've won seven PSAL titles, have produced numerous all-stars and are ranked each year as one of the top 25 teams in the country.
The guidelines for success has been tested and worked well at Monroe. But getting talent doesn't always mean that success will follow.
First, the Seahorses have to learn the time tested basics.
"They're learning the nuances of the game. Last year, baserunning wise, they would have gotten picked off. Now they won't so we got to find a group who can pitch and hit," Telford said.
"And yet I have these kids practicing at 6 am in the morning. Again it's a commitment to want to be better. If they want to get better, they will get better."
The cold weather at the beginning of March wasn't helpful to any high school program. It ruined outdoor practice time and Far Rockaway has had to postpone two games with Hillcrest last week.
Telford had to find ways of getting to know his team. He videotapes the hitting or pitching techniques and breaks it down frame by frame.
He'll have to learn on the fly as a young team might make some mental mistakes in the beginning. He hopes they erase some of that before the bats and balls are packed away on May 16.
The most important value Telford wants to instill is that his players must mix the tools of academics and athletics to become a productive high school athlete.
"To me education is more important but on that field, I'm also going to educate you about life. It's about being men," Telford said.
"On the field, you won't hear them complain or throw a tantrum. At Monroe, they learned to be men. Even if a 14 year old comes up here, he will eventually learn how to be a man."
The most visual example could be the third relief pitcher of the day for Far Rockaway, Brian Cabrera, who gave up a run in one inning. He was ok on the field but his performance served a purpose and an invaluable teaching tool.
"He failed off baseball last year and he worked his tail off to get his grades up and he's playing ball," says Telford.
"It's all work ethic. If you want to play here, that is what you have to do."