Whenever a new head coach takes over, it takes time to get everyone to buy in.
But not for Cathedral City High School’s baseball head coach Chris Lugo. He turned a program around that had no funding, old equipment, and a field in poor condition.
“I took the program over and I walked out to check out the facilities, the field was in really bad shape,” Coach Lugo said. “It hadn’t had grass for over five to six years. Clay for about ten. I looked at it and I said the first thing I want to do for the kids is get a brand new field. Something they can be proud of."
Through sponsorships and fundraisers, the team raised over thirteen-thousand-dollars.
"First we got the grass seeded and that was back in October.” Coach Lugo explained. “Then we bought brand new uniforms, helmets, and catchers gear. We have five bats on the way and more baseballs. A lot of stuff that you need to run practice, we were lacking when I first took over. So a lot of the money went to that at first. Next year’s plan is to start getting more screens, different cages and stuff like that.”
The Lions will never forget their first time walking out to their new home.
"It just felt good to finally take those first steps on a real baseball field.” Senior left hand pitcher Oscar Escobar said. “Before it just felt like a sandlot but now it’s just surreal to know that this is our field and I take pride in it now.”
Coach Lugo is not only changing the program but the lives of his players.
"He really cares about us,” Escobar explained. “He’s always at school. He’s pushes us to excel in school work. He’s always helping me with homework after school and pretty much it’s just nice to know that somebody cares."
"I love what I do,” Coach Lugo said. “I love being around kids and I love helping them find the success that they want and help them in the future. Looking back on it, it was a lot of work but I teach my kids that anything you’re going to put your name on, you have to do one-hundred percent. The kids deserve it and I’m just trying to do the best I can to get them what they deserve."