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DiBenedetti named Warriors' head baseball coach

Mark DiBenedetti, who spent the 2009 and 2010 high school baseball seasons as Fallbrook High School’s pitching coach and strength/conditioning instructor, was named the Warriors’ head coach August 11.

“I’m thrilled. I’m full of gratitude and I’m honored,” DiBenedetti said. “I want to take them back to where they were, and we’ve got a lot of hard work to do.”

DiBenedetti replaces Jesse Schuveiller, who stepped down after three seasons as Fallbrook’s head coach. “Jess was a great guy, and I thank him for bringing me in,” DiBenedetti said. “I’m grateful that he gave me the opportunity to coach there.”

DiBenedetti had coached the summer league team consisting of Fallbrook players. “It was a pleasure this summer with these kids,” DiBenedetti said. “I’m looking forward to building on that.”

The summer team came within one win of the league championship. “It was a tremendous breakthrough summer for these kids,” DiBenedetti said.

Prior to his involvement with Fallbrook High School’s baseball team, DiBenedetti had known the parents of a pair of current and former Warrior players. Vaughn Berberet, a pitcher-outfielder who will be a senior during the 2011 baseball season, is the son

of Mike Berberet, who was one of DiBenedetti’s teammates on the Loyola Marymount University baseball team. Erik Castro, who graduated from Fallbrook High School in 2006 and is now in the Houston Astros’ minor league organization, is the son of Alonzo Castro, who lived on the same street as DiBenedetti when the two were growing up in Los Angeles.

DiBenedetti and Alonzo Castro attended different high schools; Castro attended Marshall High School while DiBenedetti attended Loyola High School. DiBenedetti, who throws left-handed, was a first baseman on Loyola’s baseball team when he wasn’t pitching, although he was exclusively a pitcher in college. “I had a

pretty decent arm, so they made me a pitcher,” DiBenedetti said.

DiBenedetti, who graduated from Loyola High School in 1976, was also the starting center on Loyola’s 1975 football team which was ranked first in the nation. He was also involved in amateur boxing in the middleweight and light heavyweight classes.

DiBenedetti initially attended college at the University of Nebraska. On April 17, 1978, DiBenedetti threw the final inning of a combined five-inning no-hitter against Dana College, striking out two batters in the process.

DiBenedetti then pitched at Loyola Marymount, where Mike Berberet was his center fielder. DiBenedetti spent one season in the minor leagues, with the San Francisco Giants Pioneer League team in Great Falls, Montana. “I was a lefty. I threw relatively hard. And they gave me a shot,” he said.

“I threw really hard but no control,” DiBenedetti said. “But I had good movement.”

After his sole professional season, DiBenedetti returned to Los Angeles and ran a collection agency for a family he knew. The vice-president of that collection agency was the grandson of legendary basketball coach John Wooden, and DiBenedetti had several one-on-one conversations with Wooden. He has incorporated many of Wooden’s values into his own coaching and training philosophy. “You come from a perspective of love – with boundaries,” he said.

The collection agency had a San Diego office, and DiBenedetti transferred to San Diego. He then ran a mortgage company before returning to sports. “I’d always been involved in baseball training,” he said.

DiBenedetti, who is believed to be the first off-campus head coach in the history of Fallbrook’s baseball program, works at Fuse Fitness in Carlsbad as a trainer and also works as a boxing and mixed martial arts instructor at Rhino Boxing in Vista. “Keeps me fit and keeps me active,” he said.

DiBenedetti moved to Oceanside approximately seven years ago. When Erik Castro was playing at San Diego State University, DiBenedetti saw several of Castro’s college games. Castro suggested that DiBenedetti inquire about the pitching coach vacancy at Fallbrook High School. “He knew they were looking for a coach,” DiBenedetti said. “Erik was influential in getting me up there.”

DiBenedetti spoke with Schuveiller and was hired as the Warriors’ pitching coach. “It’s been great,” DiBenedetti said of his two years as Fallbrook’s pitching coach. “Although they’ve struggled it’s been just a pleasure to work with the guys.”

Fallbrook athletic director Patrick Walker approached DiBenedetti about the head coaching vacancy after Schuveiller stepped down. “They came to me and they said it’s open,” DiBenedetti said.

DiBenedetti had two interview sessions involving Walker, principal Rod King, vice-principal and former athletic director John Hayek, and members of the Fallbrook Baseball Booster Club. “I came out on top, and I’m grateful for that,” DiBenedetti said.

DiBenedetti recognizes that players on other teams may have better physical skills, but his focus is on the mental end of preparation. “We’re going to be mentally prepared, and we’re going to be more fundamentally sound,” he said.

“These kids are going to outwork everybody,” DiBenedetti said. “You’re going to see these kids playing a high level of baseball; I guarantee it.”

DiBenedetti also promises a level of discipline to which his players will adhere. “I don’t believe in punishment. I just believe in consequences,” he said.

Community involvement is also a factor within DiBenedetti’s control. “I’m going to be very involved with the boosters,” he said. “I’m going to be extremely involved with the community.”

DiBenedetti noted that the community involvement will include Fallbrook Youth Baseball and Bonsall Little League. “We’re going to get the community involved,” he said.

“I’m going to be very involved with the parents, too,” DiBenedetti said. “I need their support.”

DiBenedetti has not yet chosen his assistant coaching staff but expects to retain the Warrior pitching coach’s duties.

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