NJCAA coaches guiding USA Baseball program

From L-R: Jagoda, Shabansky, and Solis (Photo credit: USA Baseball)

Three NJCAA head baseball coaches have taken their knowledge to USA Baseball for the summer. Rob Shabansky, Frank Jagoda, and Victor Solis will guide the 15U National Team at the 2017 COPABE Pan Am "AA" Championships from August 11-20 in Cartagena, Colombia.

Shabansky, who is in his 12th season as the head coach at Gateway (AZ), was appointed manager of the national program. Jagoda recently concluded his second year as the head coach at Patrick Henry (VA) and will serve as the USA Baseball pitching coach. A USA Baseball veteran, Solis is the head coach at Paradise Valley (AZ) and will serve as an assistant coach.

The program has been in full swing throughout the summer, but the original 72-player pool dwindled down to 20 players on August 4.  The selected team will train at the National Training Complex in Cary, NC before heading to Colombia for the Pan Am Championship.

"It's been an incredible experience," Shabansky stated in regards to his fifth stint with USA Baseball. "I've been very, very fortunate. It's just a feeling that you cannot describe and taking these kids into foreign countries and different environments and the way baseball is played and so much passion from countries- you can't replicate it anywhere."

"Working at a junior college has helped me develop a lot of relationships, not only between high school coaches, but also college coaches." Shabansky added. "For us, I think it's a very good bridge between those levels. I think that's really prepared us for knowing these players and seeing these players."

Jagoda replicated Shabansky's enthusiasm for being a part of USA Baseball. "It's been unbelievable. Every single day you get to wake up and wear USA across your chest, that's the biggest thrill I've ever had. To build relationships with these folks is really what has helped me in my career and it also is humbling at the same time. Being the youngest guy on staff and to be around guys like this is such an honor."

When asked how his experience at a NJCAA institution helped get him to USA Baseball, Jagoda expressed the importance of preparation. "I think any junior college coach could speak to this, there is no day that is the same at our level. A lot of us have to be creative in how we plan practice and how we staff our coaching staffs. It helps prepare you for situations like international play where things are all over the place and you never know what to expect."

Solis has been a part of USA Baseball for over 10 years and has seen the benefits of coaching at a high level. "I think USA Baseball has made me a better coach and allowed me to take certain things back to my schools and baseball programs. When you're involved with the program, you learn right along with them because that's what they're doing and then you go along and try to instill that in your coaches and players."

"Working at a junior college level has provided me with a lot of experience in a lot of different areas," Solis added. "You learn a lot of different things. You learn how to think on your feet and adjust on the fly. We've been here a week almost and we've had three different schedules for what's going to be a week away so you just have to think on your feet and, if you're at the junior college level, you already have to do that to be successful."

The three coaches bring a wealth of success to the program. Shabansky led Gateway to the NJCAA DII World Series game in 2016 while Jagoda coached Patrick Henry to a 44-16 record and the Region X Championship in 2016, his first season. Solis has coached at a number of levels of collegiate baseball and has a bronze medal as a head coach with the USA Junior National Team from the 2007 Pan American Games.

Shabansky expanded on the experience he has gained with his staff. "With this game and with athletics in general, the game is always evolving and you have to keep learning. Having the ability to have some of the best coaches around the country next to you every day, that's second to none."

For more information and updates regarding the team's schedule, visit: USA BASEBALL

(Photo caption: From L-R: Frank Jagoda, Rob Shabansky, Victor Solis / Photo credit: USA Baseball)