In 30 years of coaching, Scott Drootin has won league titles at Calabasas, Newbury Park and Chaminade, but his best coaching performance might have been this season at Reseda Cleveland, where he took a team picked to finish fifth in the West Valley League and made it to the City Section Division 1 championship game before losing to El Camino Real, 4-3, at Dodger Stadium.
"This was one of my easiest teams to coach, because they were all willing to buy in, listen and play for each other," Drootin said.
Drootin has been selected The Times' coach of the year in high school baseball.
The coach found a way to succeed even though his best hitter, Austin White, played the entire season with a torn labrum in his shoulder. Drootin was also a mentor and listener to his best player, sophomore pitcher and first baseman Sam Villa, whose father died in December. Villa shed many tears, but his coach was always there to offer support.
Cleveland finished with a record of 24-12 and tied with Chatsworth for second place in the West Valley League. The Cavaliers defeated Chatsworth in a playoff semifinal before forcing El Camino Real to hold on in the championship game.
Drootin, in his second season at Cleveland, showed what a capable coach can accomplish on and off the field when listening and responding to the needs of his players.