ORANGE PARK - Former Clay High baseball standout John Sgromolo
has about a dozen games under his
belt as the new head coach for the Ridgeview High Panthers
So what are the three things that were "eye-openers" for him.
Sgromolo was a Clay High varsity first baseman (Class of 2008) under coach Rob Thompson that continued his baseball at nearby Flagler College then found a brief opportunity to playwithin the Los Angeles Dodgers of Major League Baseball.
After two years in the majors, Sgromolo
returned toClayCounty andwasan assistant coach athishigh school alma materwhile continu-ing to study and pass statewide educa-tion tests.
In 2014, after being a part of one of the Blue Devils'
greatest teams ever, if not one of the best in Clay County, an opening happened at Ridgeview baseball and Sgromolo
was offered the job.
"That team (lost in Class 5A championship game to Tampa Jesuit) was probably the best collection of players on one team in this county," said Sgromolo
"I learned a lot about how to corral talented players and keep them focussed on the simple game of baseball."
At Ridgeview, with past seasons of competitiveness in sporadic spurts, Sgromolo
commented on three eye-opening things that he
learned very quickly at his
Tops on Sgromolo's list, and not nec-essarilyasurprise,isthe all-encompassing tasks of being the headcoach.
"I'm the groundskeeper, the public relations guy, the fundraiser, the guidance counselor and, oh yeah, the baseball coach," said Sgromolo
, now with three wins, four losses in his
"It's a challenge that I understand and I have been a good time management guy all along with college classes, tryouts and, at the pro level, keeping up with traveling and games and all that."
, liked the challenge of developing his
younger players on the junior varsity level to up their game level to be able to find a varsity position.
"It's exciting to see players want to get better," said Sgromolo
"And, from my experiences, I can teach them things that I know work and don't work at the next level.
Here, though, the next level is varsity playing time."
And, thirdly, Sgromolo
was somewhat surprised that as, himself a former high schooler learning the game, the teaching is not much different today as he
own high schoolers to learn the game.
"Baseball is such a simple game," said Sgromolo
"I think kids are kids and they want to win and get better all the time.
Here at Ridgeview, the kids are just as motivated to have a great season as any of the teams I've been on along the way.
I was pleasantly surprised with how hard my players take losing games."
long-term aspirations, Sgromolo
team that they can get bumped and bruised throughout the season, but can always learn something positive along the way.
"We have a 'Play for May' mentality here," said Sgromolo
- quote most remembered by John Sgromolo
while with the LA Dodgers
Former Clay High baseball standout John Sgromolo, now adorning a Ridgeview High jersey as head coach, brings experiences from three levels of competitive baseball; high school, college and the Major Leagues as he starts his coaching career with the Panthers.