Their Style of Play Can be Called Salty, For the Fast and Hard Tempo They Push
Mitch Spiers has two great mentors in travel baseball. First, Spiers coached under Rob Bruno within the NorCal Baseball organization, then he joined his brother Mike in coaching for Amateur Baseball Development.
In a world where it’s all too easy for pride and ego to take over, Spiers speaks no ill-will of the prior two organizations he was a part of, there was not a falling out of any sort, no covert coup attempt. In fact, speaking to their instrumental role in him being where he is today.
“I had two good programs I was with that I was very fortunate to be with,” said Spiers, the executive director of Team California.
But at the end of the day Spiers wanted to run his own program and take full control of the ability to aid a player’s pursuit of their goal.
“I just wanted to just go out there and teach baseball to the best of my abilities. I've been fortunate to have Rob and Mike as mentors, but I just wanted to put my twist on things and create a team.”
Team California was created in 2010, with Spiers envisioning a college development program, to provide players with an avenue for greater exposure. Naturally, there was the desire to win a national championship to be able to be called the best, but Team California most takes pride in having college-ready players after their time with them.
“What I wanted was to have an elite program in the high school age groups,” Spiers said. “It takes a while, but I've seen it done through ABD and through NorCal baseball. Those were my blueprints. I've had very good blueprints.”
For Spiers, tweaking the blueprints and paths laid out of established organizations was necessary. Not that there was anything wrong with how NorCal or ABD operated, but Spiers sees the travel baseball landscape as one that is ever-evolving. To do his best to give next level opportunities to his players, he had to anticipate change and move along accordingly, which is best able with full control and autonomy.
“The landscape for baseball is always changing, you want to try to stay ahead of the curve,” said Spiers. “Before, there was just events, there were a few big national events. Then all the sudden, you had things come up.”
From the plethora of instructional camps, to college-led team camps, the multitude of recruiting showcases and events, and weekend after weekend of tournaments, not a day goes by in the summer without something happening somewhere. While the non-stop calendar is an uncontrollable reality, one is forced to feel they must adhere to in an effort to promote and provide greater exposure, what can be controlled is the quality interactions and integrity operated with.
Those are two areas Spiers makes sure Team California puts its best foot forward.
“You want to do things the right way,” he said. “If you want to stay around and be around in this game for a while, you have to do it the right way. There's programs out there that come right in and they do it for the wrong reasons and they're in and out. Before you know it, they're gone.”
To do it the right way, Spiers says is to teach baseball the way it needs to be played the right way. The founder of Team California says his teams give 110% effort every time out, their style of play can be called salty, for the fast and hard tempo they push.
But beyond the diamond, maintaining honesty in every interaction, be it between other organizations, or providing fair and accurate evaluations to players and college coaches is a must. The continued relationships with NorCal, where Spiers says Bruno is still one of his best friends, word cannot express how deep their friendship is, being a testament to that. Spiers also speaks of rival organizations that may be his enemy on the field, but tips his cap to those organizations, in particular the San Diego Show.
"There might not be a group I respect more than Brian Cain's Show. I want to beat him every time I face him, but that doesn't mean I don't want to call him right after."
Otherwise, relationships wither, college stop turning out and top players will no longer be a part of your program. And each would be detrimental to Spiers’ goal with Team California.
“The goal was to become a program that can put players in college. I wanted to be able to put out good teams, where kids that were uncommitted, they were going to play at a high level so in the end they can get to college.”