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Coaching with care

Mike Sciacca

Whether she is bopping around Riddle Field during the warm months of

summer, or is seen on campuses around town during the school year,

youngsters who know her and meet up with Wendy Pierce simply call her

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“Coach Wendy.”

It’s a name Pierce relishes, too.

“I love it,” she exclaimed. “It’s neat to have formed a bond with some

of these kids.”

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Pierce has managed and coached in Laguna Beach Little League for the

past eight years, working her way up through the ranks. This past season,

she managed Team Hobie in the Majors Division.

For three youngsters who play in the league, Pierce goes by another

name: Mom.

Pierce has three sons playing in the league, and all three were

selected this year to represent Laguna Beach Little League in All-Star

tournament competition.

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Trevor, 13 and her eldest child, is on the Juniors All-Star team;

11-year-old Dillon plays for the Majors All-Stars, and nine-year-old

Tyler is a member of the 9/10 All-Star squad.

Needless to say, Pierce can be found at Riddle Field throughout much

of the year.

She is now rooting on her sons at the District 55 All-Star Tournament

of Champions competition.

“Baseball becomes our life starting in January, to mid-July,” said

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Pierce, who played softball as a youngster, all the way through college.

But that doesn’t stop Pierce from showing an essence of motherhood

when it comes to her managing duties.

While she teaches her players the basics of the game, she makes it a

point to instill the finer points that constitute a player’s character.

“My philosophy is that I think of baseball as very much a parallel to

life,” she explained. “There are lessons to be learned that go beyond

hitting and fielding.”

Fun for Pierce and her players comes in the form of game treats. “You

can’t play baseball without something to chew on,” she chuckled.

So, Pierce provides her players with bubble gum and sunflower seeds

come game time. She also has an incentive for any player who might balk

at the thought of playing in the outfield.

“I think there’s an unfounded stigma to playing in the outfield,” she

said. “So, I have come up with a fun rule for the boys: if you play in

the outfield and catch a fly ball, you get a candy bar after the game.”

In addition, she has helped build team camaraderie by having players

nominate one another for an outstanding play.

Those nominated also end up with a candy bar. In some games, she has

multiple big-play performers, each of whom end up with a big-time smile.

“I’m up front with the boys when I manage,” she said. “I think that

has to do with the fact that I’m a mother of three boys, myself.”

Pierce said she began her coaching career when her son, Trevor, played

T-ball.

“I like playing for her. She’s in charge and she’s a fair coach,”

Trevor Pierce said.

Moving up through the ranks as her children got older, Pierce went on

to manage the 9/10 All-Star team when Trevor was a nine-year-old team

member, and managed the Majors Division All-Star team when he was 11.

Last year, she served as a coach on the Majors All-Star team.

She just completed her third year of managing Team Hobie at the Majors

level, winning the division title two years ago.

“I felt pressure the first time I managed an All-Star team,” she said.

“There’s pressure coming from a lot of different angles, what with a team

comprised of the best players in the league. By the second time I coached

an All-Star team, I was a little more savvy.”

Baseball certainly is a family affair for the Pierces. Her husband,

Tom, was a coach on Team Salerno of the Senior League, and managed the

AAA Division team, Coldwell Banker, this past season.

Tyler played for his dad’s Coldwell Banker team. Next season, however,

he moves from his father and the AAA Division, to the Majors Division and

his mother.

“Tom and I are different when it comes to discipline,” she laughed.

“We just celebrated 20 years of marriage in March, but we have decided

that we can’t coach in the same dugout -- it’s bad for a marriage.”

As Coach Wendy moves from various ballparks during this next week to

watch her sons in District 55 All-Star tournament action, she knows that

the 2002 season is coming to an end. So, what is a mother/coach supposed

to do, then?

“We start up with Pop Warner football,” declared Pierce, who is a

player agent for the league.

“Yes, you’ll find me at a playing field somewhere,” she added.

* MIKE SCIACCA covers sports for the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot. He

can be reached at 494-4321 or by e-mail at michael.sciacca@latimes.com.


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