‘Don’t Ever Count Us Out’

Get to know about some of GCC's baseball players' lives, careers and aspirations

Belinda Oldrati, Production Editor

Jake Selco, 19, from West Hills, Calif., USA, started playing baseball when he was five years old. Seven years later, he got to play in the PONY World Series as a 12-year-old, something that still qualifies as his favorite baseball memory so far.
His passion and love for the sport makes him want to pursue a baseball career for as long as possible, to then become a physical therapist.
As for now, Selco is part of the GCC baseball team, a team where both players and coaches are really close. “Everyone cares about each other and is rooting for each other,” said Selco. “The coaching staff cares for us immensely and I think those two parts have a lot to do with the success we are having.”
After 14 years of baseball, he’s not anywhere near quitting the game, and continues to live by his motto, “If you’re not eating, you’re on the menu.”
Mitchell Rathbun, 20, Las Vegas, Ne., USA, grew up with friends in his elementary school that all played baseball. That is what got him into the sport as a 10-year-old, and today, 10 years later, Rathbun still gives his all and plays every game like it’s his last.
Something he will never forget is when he played during club ball as a 12-year-old for his all-time favorite coach, Harold Eckert. “I hit a double off the green monster at Big League Dreams,” said Rathbun. “It really impressed him which made me happy because I looked up to him.”
Although Eckert is among his favorite coaches, Rathbun thinks the best thing about playing baseball at GCC is the coaches, explaining how they truly care about the players. “They are extremely approachable and tell you how it is,” he said. “They help everyone in any way they can.”
Aside from baseball that’s been a big part of his life so far, he also dreams of becoming a petroleum engineer.
Troy Viola, 19, from Bend, Ore., USA, loved to throw and hit wiffle balls in his backyard as a kid.                                                                   He then moved on from that small plastic ball when his parents signed him up for tee-ball, a team sport based on baseball intended to work as an introduction to the sport for children.
Viola grew up idolizing Derek Jeter, the former New York Yankees shortstop and surefire future MLB Hall of Fame inductee.                To wear the pinstriped uniform is something Viola has always wanted, and his goal for a future baseball career is to be a shortstop for the New York Yankees, just like Jeter. “I won’t let anything stop me from getting there,” he said.
He continues to talk about how it would be an honor to play for any major league team, but the New York Yankees would be “a dream come true,” and the fact that they have such a storied history of winning makes it even more palatable.
Viola tries to live by a quote by Jeter himself. “There may be people who have more talent than you, but there is no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do,” which is something Viola use both on and off the field. “Jeter is my idol, role model and someone I try to craft my game after,” said Viola.
In high school, Viola was part of Summit High School’s first ever state championship in baseball where they came out on top and won the whole championship, something he recalls as one of his favorite memories so far.
Today, he’s been playing baseball for 15 years, and being part of the GCC baseball team is something he enjoys. He also loves the fact that the team has players who want to win at all costs.                    “We have grit, no matter what situation we find ourselves in, you can bet we will do anything in our power to come out on top.”
Konner Piotto, 20, from Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada, has played baseball ever since his dad first introduced him to the sport 11 years ago. Although he has been playing for so long, he still loves showing up every day to play next to his team players on the field.
“The program is special, and this team in particular is special,” Piotto said. “The coaches put a lot of time and effort to make sure we have success every day.”
The coaches of the GCC baseball team is indeed known for the hard work to ensure that students get what they need to succeed, and the success keeps coming.
For Piotto, winning the 2018 WSC East conference, as well as the 2018 SoCal Regional with the Vaqs are his favorite moments of his baseball career so far.
Chris Davidson, 21, from Pasadena, Calif., USA,  got into baseball because of his father 15 years ago. He has kept playing ever since, and has no plan to stop any time soon.
Davidson wants to keep playing for as long as he can, to then turn around and give back to the game by coaching, umpiring, and coordinating leagues. As long as it’s related to baseball, that’s what he wants to do.
Team chemistry is what Davidson finds amazing about the GCC baseball team, and the best experience with the team was winning conference play just a few weeks ago.
The team has worked really hard, and Davidson has the perfect sports motto to match it: “Don’t ever cut corners, whine or complain, make excuses, act selfishly, divide the team, embarrass the jersey, or give up.”
Tom Tabak, 19, from Calabasas, Calif., USA, has been playing baseball since the age of six. One day, he told his parents he wanted to play, and the rest is history.
Tabak talks about his favorite memory in senior year of high school, when he robbed a home run flipping over the fence.
A career goal for Tabak is to get drafted, but as for now, he enjoys playing with the GCC baseball team, where it’s important to him follow the motto, “don’t ever be too comfortable, play the game humble.”
As for the GCC team, Tabak thinks that the heart of each individual player and coach is what makes them special.
Grant Mona, 20, from Sunland, Calif., USA, has played baseball for 15 years. As a 5-year-old kid, he was introduced to the sport by his father who taught him everything he needed to know.
Besides always wanting to provide happiness and the best life possible for his family, his ultimate goal is to get as far as he can in his baseball career and to become a professional.
As “a third year guy” at GCC, Mona enjoys the time with the baseball team. “The best thing about our team is the heart,” and the “don’t ever quit mentality,” he said.
During the second-to-last game in conference play, Citrus College started acting as if the win were in their hands. Many of the GCC players stood up and yelled, “Not done!” This fits right in what Mona talks about their motto as a team. “Don’t ever count us out.”
So what happened at the final game of conference on April 27? GCC Vaqueros won their sixth Western State Championship. This was a first time experience for Mona, which felt very special to him.
Jason Whaley, 20, from Burbank, Calif., USA, got into baseball because of his friend John Murphy, who made him join Little League Baseball as an 11-year-old after a year of playing flag football. It seemed like a good idea to Whaley, since baseball season was next to come.
Today, nine years later, Whaley plays with the GCC baseball team and finds that the best thing about the team is the heart, and the fact that they’re a family.
Although he enjoys being part of the GCC team, his most memorable moment in baseball so far was while attending John Burroughs High School, hitting the walk-off to win the Easton tournament in 2016 against Harvard-Westlake Upper School.
Whaley lives by the Nike quote, “Just do it,” and in the future, he wants to open up a business depending on “what’s hot in the moment,” he said.

Story and photography by Belinda Oldrati

Belinda Oldrati can be reached at [email protected]