New man in charge

New man in charge

Pitcher Benjamin Geiger '17 attempts to pick off an opponent during a league game. Credit: Bennet Gross/Chronicle

Although baseball is coach Jared Halpert’s focus now, it wasn’t always.

Halpert began his long and illustrious baseball career at Chatsworth High School, where he was part of the 2000 and 2001 CIF-SS championship teams. Halpert played the outfield, and was named a top outfielder in California by the California Baseball Coaches Association. Halpert went on to play college baseball at Cal State Northridge for two years. He transferred to Fresno State for his junior and senior seasons.

Despite baseball’s huge role in his life, Halpert completely changed his direction after playing outfield for the Fresno State Bulldogs: Halpert decided to become a firefighter in Northern California.

“The plan B for a lot of athletes is hard to figure out, but I wanted to go into fire,” Halpert said.”I got to help people and I felt it was an honorable job. It was also fun. The idea of helping people and being athletic is me.”

Halpert spent three years fighting wildfires in the wilderness of Northern California.

“I was on wildland [assignment] in northern California doing some crazy stuff,” Halpert said, “It was the most secluded place I’ve ever been. The only light bulb that was around was from our station bay.”

Halpert planned to continue his career as a firefighter when he moved down to Southern California, but the allure of baseball was too much.

“I tried to continue down here, but things happened in life, and I had a bunch of buddies still doing baseball,” Halpert said, “Coach Guntz [the current pitching coach] was one of them. I also had a really good relationship with Coach LaCour, and he had an opening for the club team and I started there.”

Halpert began his career at Harvard-Westlake as an assistant coach working with outfielders and hitters during the 2011 season. He also worked with the club teams run by Athletic Director Matt LaCour and current Assistant Coach PC Shaw.

“[LaCour] put me into the situations I knew best” Halpert said.

Halpert said he came into the program with an open-mind on coaching and adapted to his new role well.

“I think when you first get hired as an official coach, you really don’t know anything about the job,” Halpert said, “Playing and coaching are two separate entities.”

The transition from Matt LaCour’s tenure as head coach of the baseball team was smooth. Halpert took over late this summer and has implemented small changes to the program.

“There’s little things that you have to change year to year,” Halpert said, “I think if you’re not changing or trying to improve, you’re not getting better. I think coach LaCour did a really good job listening to his assistant coaches. You have to let the guys working for you help you and help the program.”

Halpert’s coaching approach has been embraced by the team.

“Everyone has their own personality and style, and Coach Halpert has been doing an incredible job,” right-handed pitcher Gabe Golob ‘16 said, “everyone is really rallying around him.”

and strive for success, and we have a great new leader to push us forward to even greater heights.”

Although he knows the ultimate goal is winning games and making a deep run into the CIF-SS playoffs, Halpert likes to look at the season from a different perspective.

“I try not to look at it that way,” Halpert said, “I think that if you get consumed in a figure or a number or trying to be something you’re not that affects everybody in a negative way. The only thing I’m concerned with is tomorrow’s practice and how we can get better at that point. I think we have exceptions for the team and what we want to do this year, but it’s not something that we really put too much thought into. It’s more about the daily grind.”

Halpert has brought in new faces to the coaching staff in order to gain new perspectives and ideas on how to make the team better.

“I played with Ryan Barba, and he was also in the club scene in LA for a while,” Halpert said, “He’s currently with the Angels [organization] and I brought him just as a part time thing as another set of eyes. He is really knowledgeable and gave us his two cents. He’ll be a part-time guy for us and will be done in March when he has to go back to professional baseball.”

Halpert has also brought in a catching coach to help catchers improve their skills before season starts.

“[Coach Escobar} is a catching guy who used to play pro ball for a while,” Halpert said. “He’s completely new to the Harvard-Westlake program.”

Halpert strives to connect with his players and help them become more refined ballplayers both on and off the field.

“You know, anytime you really have any issues, [Halpert] is there, whether it is a baseball issue or an academic issue,” pitcher Adam Rich ‘17 said “He really connects with his players and pushes them to play as hard as they can.

Halpert is looking to build upon a strong 2014-2015 campaign that saw the Wolverines finish with a record of 24-6 and culminated in a trip to the second round of the CIF-SS playoffs. Despite the graduation of seniors Chase Aldridge ‘15, Ezra Sternberg ‘15 and Tom Fuller ‘15, the team strives to go deeper into CIF-SS playoffs than they were able to last year.

Loren Franck '18 swings to hit the ball during a league game against Simi Valley High School. Credit: Bennet Gross/Chronicle

“If we talk about what we want to accomplish this year, we don’t make [discussion about] the playoffs the elephant in the room,” Halpert said. “We have expectations, and we want to win this year. We’re a competitive group, and winning is something that we want to do.”

The Wolverines play with the next man up philosophy. It doesn’t matter who’s playing as long as the team is performing well.

“Last year’s playoff run allowed for a lot of younger guys to get experience under extreme pressure,” Golob said, “We’ll need those guys to step up this year.”

The squad has built up chemistry over years of playing on the same club team.

“I think the core of our team is solid,” Halpert said, “I’ve known our 11 seniors since they were 13 years old, before they were even in high school.”

Head of Athletics Terry Barnum has high praise for the new program head.

“Jared has been instrumental in our baseball success since 2011, and he is ready to become our leader,” Barnum said. “Given his history at our school, the leadership transition will be a smooth one, and Wolverine Baseball will remain an elite program.”

During LaCour’s nine-year stint as program head, the team won three consecutive Mission League titles (2011-2013) and the CIF-SS Division I championship in 2013. Halpert hopes to build on his predecessor’s success.

“Coach LaCour did an unbelievable job setting the precedence and the culture around here,” Halpert said, “it shows now. It shows what the present is and what the future is. It’s great.”

LaCour believes that he has left the baseball program in good hands.

“Our baseball program is in a great place, with an outstanding staff and talented players coming through our system,” LaCour said, “The coaches and players work c

and strive for success, and we have a great new leader to push us forward to even greater heights.”

Although he knows the ultimate goal is winning games and making a deep run into the CIF-SS playoffs, Halpert likes to look at the season from a different perspective.

“I try not to look at it that way,” Halpert said, “I think that if you get consumed in a figure or a number or trying to be something you’re not that affects everybody in a negative way. The only thing I’m concerned with is tomorrow’s practice and how we can get better at that point. I think we have exceptions for the team and what we want to do this year, but it’s not something that we really put too much thought into. It’s more about the daily grind.”

Halpert has brought in new faces to the coaching staff in order to gain new perspectives and ideas on how to make the team better.

“I played with Ryan Barba, and he was also in the club scene in LA for a while,” Halpert said, “He’s currently with the Angels [organization] and I brought him just as a part time thing as another set of eyes. He is really knowledgeable and gave us his two cents. He’ll be a part-time guy for us and will be done in March when he has to go back to professional baseball.”

Halpert has also brought in a catching coach to help catchers improve their skills before season starts.

“[Coach Escobar} is a catching guy who used to play pro ball for a while,” Halpert said. “He’s completely new to the Harvard-Westlake program.”

Halpert strives to connect with his players and help them become more refined ballplayers both on and off the field.

“You know, anytime you really have any issues, [Halpert] is there, whether it is a baseball issue or an academic issue,” pitcher Adam Rich ‘17 said “He really connects with his players and pushes them to play as hard as they can.

Halpert is looking to build upon a strong 2014-2015 campaign that saw the Wolverines finish with a record of 24-6 and culminated in a trip to the second round of the CIF-SS playoffs. Despite the graduation of seniors Chase Aldridge ‘15, Ezra Sternberg ‘15 and Tom Fuller ‘15, the team strives to go deeper into CIF-SS playoffs than they were able to last year.

“If we talk about what we want to accomplish this year, we don’t make [discussion about] the playoffs the elephant in the room,” Halpert said. “We have expectations, and we want to win this year. We’re a competitive group, and winning is something that we want to do.”

The Wolverines play with the next man up philosophy. It doesn’t matter who’s playing as long as the team is performing well.

“Last year’s playoff run allowed for a lot of younger guys to get experience under extreme pressure,” Golob said, “We’ll need those guys to step up this year.”

The squad has built up chemistry over years of playing on the same club team.

“I think the core of our team is solid,” Halpert said, “I’ve known our 11 seniors since they were 13 years old, before they were even in high school.”

Head of Athletics Terry Barnum has high praise for the new program head.

“Jared has been instrumental in our baseball success since 2011, and he is ready to become our leader,” Barnum said. “Given his history at our school, the leadership transition will be a smooth one, and Wolverine Baseball will remain an elite program.”

 

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