Diana Ramirez/ Courier Daniel Robertson and Ruben Niebla, former Major League Baseball players, join Pasadena City College baseball coach Pat McGee on his zoom meetings to motivate his team during the pandemic. Photo Credit - Left: Jay C. Hong/ Associated Press/ Right: Chuck Crow/ The Plain Dealer
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PCC junior college baseball players push themselves to the highest level in their sport, hoping and praying for the opportunity to play professionally. Daniel Robertson, former MLB baseball player, had sleepless nights before he became a MLB starter. At Oregon State, Robertson took a risk to make it as a walk-on. This obstacle never phased him, as he pushed to keep going. He told this story to the PCC baseball players in a zoom call. He wanted to motivate them. With hard work, anything was possible. This was his mission through his early college career, pushing himself on the field and in the weight room to become the best version of himself.       

Pat McGee, head coach for PCC has found a way to engage, connect and communicate with his players. He has brought Major League players to help enforce the same message of hard work, commitment and passion.

“They hear my voice all the time, some have heard it nearly everyday for the past two months,” McGee said. “Having a guest speaker that reinforces our values and message with slightly different terminology is great for the program and players.”

McGee brought Daniel Roberston, a former Major League player for the Tampa Bay Rays and the San Francisco Giants. McGee also brought Ruben Niebla, pitching coach for the Cleveland Indians. Both of them have related the message of hard work to PCC players. The players’ dedication to outwork others is the key to standout at their sport.

“All the speakers had a similar message with a lot of hard work, the biggest obstacle to success for players at this level is an unwillingness to put in the work,” said McGee. “If you separate yourself from others, whether it be on the field, in the classroom or in your occupation you need to outwork them.”

Ryan Graves, right-handed pitcher, took a lot of valuable information from Ruben Niebla. Spin rate was one of the topics that stood out to Graves. According to MLB, spin rate is the amount of spin on a pitch after it’s been released. The amount of spin on a pitch can change the trajectory of the ball. Having this knowledge has motivated Graves to work harder to improve as a pitcher.

“If a pitcher has a higher spin rate, they can pitch up in the zone because the ball is going to rise instead of dropping but the ball pretty much stays up because of higher spin rate,” said Graves. “It was motivating in the sense it gave us a perspective that guys were in the same position we were. If we put in the work and time we could achieve our goals.”

Collin Johnson, first basemen, took in a lot of information from Daniel Robertson. Johnson took away that players who didn’t go to junior college, weren’t considered the best. This motivated Johnson to work hard.

“Coming from a junior college isn’t the easiest hearing how Daniel came from a junior college and worked hard at what he did was possible,” said Johnson. “Coming out of a junior college we have some doubts about us so never stop grinding and keep the work ethic up otherwise you won’t get better you’ll get worse.”

McGee has not only brought speakers to engage with his players, but is making sure they keep up with their school work. Being eligible to play is important not only here at PCC but for the next institution as well. McGee has prioritized to his players that having good grades is important. 

“We are always talking about tutoring services, completing State mandated Ed plans, following up on Ed plans, and transfer requirements,” said McGee. “Eligibility at this level and what you need to do to be eligible at the next institution is important.”

The Zone is an academic center that helps our student-athletes with their academics. Student-athletes have specific counselors that help them with their schedules and tutoring. McGee has made an emphasis to get help, if needed. McGee has a class on canvas that he checks every week to make sure guys are getting their work done.

“Coach McGee emphasizes on zoom to get your academics done,” said Johnson. “You can’t transfer good grades if you can’t get your work done in the class. No school is going to pick you up. You can be the best baseball player on the field but if you’re not going to class they won’t care about you.”

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