GLENDALE — Joe Cotti had long pined to someday become a varsity baseball coach. He won’t have to wait any longer.
Cotti was named the new head coach at Hoover High on Aug. 26, replacing Tito Cruz.
While the season won’t officially begin for another six months, Cotti will now have the opportunity to shape and develop a program and try to get the Tornadoes back to the postseason following a one-year hiatus.
“I’m very excited because it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do,” said Cotti, a Loyola High graduate who coached Burroughs’ freshman baseball program last season. “I love coaching kids, but it’s about seeing them grow and develop athletically and personally.
“You want to see them take what they learn on the field and apply it to their everyday lives.”
Cotti, who is also a first-year freshman football coach at Hoover, will take over a Hoover baseball squad that went 8-11 and 5-9 in the Pacific League for sixth place under Cruz. Cruz, a former All-Area Player of the Year, resigned June 24 citing the lack of time available to coach the program.
Hoover encountered its share of tragedies, as well, during the past season. The death of assistant coach Brandon Villalobos in a dune buggy accident in Hesperia on April 11 and former Coach Jim Delzell, who had coached the Tornadoes from 1994-2008, dying in his sleep at his Tujunga home May 2 made the season one of tragedy on top of the struggles.
Cotti has coached travel ball and Little League teams for more than a decade in the San Fernando Valley.
Hoover Athletic Director Jack Van Patten said the school searched for a replacement for Cruz who understands the game and working with student-athletes.
“He’s got a lot of experience working with kids” Van Patten said. “It’s a plus that he knows baseball already, but he’s got the ability to handle and relate to kids.
“Everybody spoke highly of him when we talked to his references.”
The Tornadoes should have several key players returning for next season, including pitcher/catcher Bobby Romero and pitcher/first baseman Tyler Delzell, Jim Delzell’s son. Both will be expected to carry the Tornadoes, who lost center fielder Adam Ochart, an All-Area second-team selection, to graduation.
Romero earned all-league honorable mention after going 3-1 with the Tornadoes. He closed out last season on the mound with a 4-3 victory against cross-town rival Glendale.
“I want to be able to go in there and put down a nice foundation,” Cotti said. “I want to develop a program over the long haul.
“It will be about getting down the fundamentals and having the kids in the community enjoying the game. Take what you have and develop it.”