GLENDALE — With a coaching change made official on Wednesday, the Glendale High baseball program appears headed for a return to a philosophy and way of doing things that saw the Nitros achieve some success over a decade ago.
That’s the stated intention, anyway, from Jesus Osuna, who was promoted from an assistant coaching position he has held for the past four years to assume head coaching duties for Glendale after Jon Keefer stepped down earlier in the summer.
Osuna’s association with the program goes back to his days as a student at Glendale, where he played on a Pacific League-championship team in 1996 under former Coach Spiro Psaltis, a respected figure in Nitros baseball, who endorsed Osuna for the head coaching job.
“I’m pretty excited about being the coach. ...I can’t wait,” Osuna said. “ was the last year they’ve done anything there and I’m trying to go back into that way of playing baseball. I really want to show these kids basically where Glendale used to be and, hopefully, they can buy into everything we’re going to try to get them to be.”
Osuna, 31, takes over a program that has struggled through four coaching changes in the last six seasons and has compiled a 14-52 record over the past three under Keefer.
The Nitros went 5-16 last season en route to a seventh-place finish in league.
“At the end of the school year, [Keefer] said he had thought about it and he would just like to step down because he was basically tired,” Glendale Assistant Principal in Charge of Athletics Rene Valdes said. “It’s been a long couple of seasons for him and he just wasn’t having fun doing it any more.”
Once the hiring process for a replacement began, Osuna’s name quickly rose to the top of the list.
“Based on the guys that I interviewed and the reference checks that I did, Jesus Osuna was the best candidate,” Valdes said. “He’s alumni and Spiro Psaltis is a big supporter of his ... and Jesus has done a real good job and the kids really respect him and respond to him.”
Osuna, who played two years of college baseball at Cal State Northridge after transferring from L.A. City College, has conducted voluntary team workouts during the summer and said he is excited about the incoming class of sophomores and the base of young talent the program will rely on in coming seasons.
“The one thing I believe really helps a young program that I don’t think we’ve been doing is concentrating on the mental aspect of baseball and how to be mentally tough,” Osuna said. “Physically, I can make them run all day and that’s great, but the mental part, I think, is what we’ve lacked and that’s gonna be my main focus this year.”