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Adversity is nothing new to this program

Jeff Tully

For a program that has suffered through its share of adversity in

recent years, the Burbank High baseball team should have been

prepared for what it faced this season.

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Because of construction at the school that affected the Bulldogs’

on-campus field, the team was forced to reschedule all of its home

games and was prepared for a long season on the road.

However, with a great deal of help from the program’s booster

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club, repairs and modifications were made to the field, and the

Bulldogs moved back their home games and found solace in the fact

that -- for this season at least -- they have a place to call home.

“We’ve done all that we can to try and make this facility

playable,” Burbank Coach Paul Marietti said. “But if you notice, we

have no batting cage. I can tell you, it is extremely hard to put

together a winning program without a permanent batting cage.

“People come to our field and they tell us ‘You can’t have a

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winning program, just look at your field, it’s too small You can’t

build a program here, you don’t have a dugout.’

“The players and coaches have tried to do the best with what we

have,”

The problem with its facility is just the latest setback for a

program that has taken its share of hard knocks the past few years.

The woes with its facility is just the tip of the iceberg for

Burbank.

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Along with seeing a number of players migrate to cross-town rival

Burroughs, the Bulldogs have also had problems keeping coaches,

difficulties competing in the tough Foothill League and have a

history of getting little or no respect from opponents.

But this season’s team seems unfazed by the program’s past

hardships, as the Bulldogs are putting together one of their finer

seasons in recent years.

Despite losing to Canyon Friday, 7-4, in a Foothill League game at

home, Burbank (6-3, 2-1 in league) has been competitive in league

play.

The Bulldogs are not only playing well, but they are breaking down

some barriers, and maybe even getting a little respect along the way.

With a 3-1 win against Saugus Match 21, Burbank got its first

league victory since 2000, breaking a 31-game league losing streak.

Tuesday, the Bulldogs defeated Burroughs, 3-0, for the first time

since 1997.

“These kids in this program have been dealing with adversity from

the time they got to Burbank, so what has happened this season is

nothing new to them,” Marietti said. “When you play sports in

Burbank, and you play in a tough league like the Foothill League, you

better be tough and you better be ready for some adversity.

Marietti said he couldn’t be more pleased with the way his players

have coped this season. And as for the Bulldog seniors, the coach

said he has a great deal of respect for the athletes who have stuck

it out when times got rough.

“These kids have gone out of their way to work hard, and to risk

and try new things, all for the sake of the program,” he said. “To

deal with all this adversity really takes a lot of courage.

“A lot of kids today would rather say ‘You know what? I don’t want

to play for Burbank because they lose and I don’t want to lose.’

“But what I’ve tried to instill in the kids it’s not whether you

win or lose that makes you a winner, but it’s whether you dare to go

out on that field to take the risk and give it your best. That’s a

real winner. The losers are the ones who never try.”

Marietti has helped build confidence in a team that hasn’t had

much to be confident about in the past. Although one might think the

coach has had an uphill battle making his players believe they can be

winners, that hasn’t been the case.

“The know they can win, I don’t have to teach them that,” Marietti

said. “We do compete, and have done well in tournaments and in

[nonleague] games and in summer league. But when you go 0-15 in

league, people have a tendency to think of you as a horrible team.

“In league, we are playing teams that are bigger than us, stronger

than us, their facilities are better than ours and they have Little

League programs that are outstanding. What I have told my players is

simply: If you want to compete in the Foothill League, you have to

work twice as hard as the other guy. And the guys have really

responded.

“The things the players have learned and the way they have dealt

with things in baseball will help them later in life.”

Even if the Bulldogs go winless the rest of the season, Marietti

said his team has accomplished a great deal, and they should be proud

of the way they have risen above adversity.


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