There’s been plenty on Aaron Milam’s plate as of late.
He became engaged in January and his father, Nyle, died May 11 at 81. While juggling an array of emotions, he served this past season as the interim coach of the St. Francis High baseball team.
St. Francis removed the interim tag from Milam’s position Tuesday, when it named him the program’s new head coach.
“Personally, it’s a big relief not being the interim coach anymore,” said Milam, who served as an assistant at St. Francis from 2004 until early 2012, when Milam’s predecessor, Brian Esquival, resigned March 16. “I’m happy that I can continue to run the program and the players and I already know each other.
“My dad and I were very close. We talked about the St. Francis job a lot in terms of applying for it. He died the day after the season ended. My dad wanted me to work my butt off for the job. He said if you weren’t willing, then don’t do it.”
Milam, who will continue to be a walk-on coach while working as an aerospace engineer with Northrup Grumman, said he’s willing and able to upgrade the Golden Knights. St. Francis finished 7-21 and 2-10 in the ultra-competitive Mission League to tie for fifth place with Sherman Oaks Notre Dame last season.
Milam has been an assistant for the Golden Knights since 2002, beginning under former Coach Mike Solar and continuing under Esquival when he replaced Solar in 2008. St. Francis’ watershed moment came in 2006, when it advanced to the Division II title game.
“St. Francis has been a very big part of my life,” said Milam, who was a catcher at La Salle High before graduating in 1999. “It’s a very fair place and they interviewed a lot of quality people.
“They made me run the whole intense gamut involving the hiring process. They did their due diligence and had to access a lot of information.”
Milam, who served as an assistant coach at San Diego Serra from 2002-03, will look to try to get the Golden Knights back in contention for the playoffs despite losing stalwarts David Olmedo-Barrera, Tei Vanderford and Jeff Garavaglia to graduation.
“I believe you are only as good as your junior class in terms of continuing to build the program,” Milam said. “We want to establish a list of guidelines, ranging from warming up to running properly to bullpen sessions. We will be charting those things and we will look to win more games.”
St. Francis Principal Tom Moran said Milam has the intangibles to continue to lead the program.
“After interviewing a number of qualified candidates, we concluded that Aaron had both the skills and vision to lead the St. Francis program,” Moran stated in a press release from the school Wednesday.
St. Francis assistant Athletic Director John Jordan agreed.
“Aaron came across as very impressive in his interview,” Jordan said. “He’s got a vision for the team and he laid out a bunch of things.
“He’s been around the program for a long time, he knows the strengths and limitations.”
Milam, who is also the head coach of the Arroyo Seco Saints, an 18-and-under club team, said pitcher Anders Schraer and infielders Richie Alfonso and Tynan Holmstrom will likely be the next crop of talent looking to lead the Golden Knights.
“We’ve got some good arms and middle infielders and we’ll have some good outfielders coming back,” Milam said. “We will be young, but we are not inexperienced.”