Coach Mark Yoshino played at the University of Portland, but with a recurring elbow injury he was forced to stop playing. “I actually never had plans on coaching baseball; I had visions out of college of being a strength and conditioning coach for a pro club or a major university.” Then he started interning for the Philadelphia Phillies. “I was interning when the field of sports performance development was just in the beginning stages, so things were a little on the conservative end. I got my strength coach license and was beginning what I thought was going to be my career.” But eventually he ended up wanting to be a coach and now he is here at Bellevue College. “The experience [interning for the Phillies] is something I still use today. twenty years later, I am still putting together weight programs for the players.”
Heading into his 19th year coaching for the Bulldogs baseball team, head coach Mark Yoshino talks about the program he has built and kept strong since he has been here. “Like anything else in life, you get what you put into it,” Yoshino said. “I’ve had frank discussions with faculty who have some of my players struggle academically and we see the same thing and agree. If you don’t put in the time and effort, your results are going to stink. My goal is so that the players see that I put 100 percent effort into everything and get good results. If the players buy into that, they’ll find success too on the field and in the classroom.”
Success on the field comes second to success in the classroom to Coach Yoshino. “I’m essentially honest and realistic with the players about their expectations. The players know they have no future in baseball or a college education without getting their degree.” This type of leadership from Yoshino really seems to be improving the “success rate” of his players. “While we don’t have a 100 percent rate of perfect students and athletes, the rate based off graduation numbers is around 70-80 percent…that’s pretty good.”
In 2009 the Bulldogs won the NWAACC Championship, and the American Baseball Coaches Association named Mark Yoshino Coach of the Year for the Pacific Association Division (all community colleges in Washington, Oregon and California) “That year was a Cinderella story year,” said Yoshino. “We were in fourth place heading into the final week and just kept winning when it mattered the most and all of a sudden we had won it all.” During the championship game Yoshino did what any passionate coach would do. “That was a jack of all trades year for me as well; I had to run the offense and give signals from the dugout, make decisions on who to play/not to play, and actually had to keep score in the dugout.”
Coming into this year ranking number eight in the nation, and having won three NWAACC Championships in the last five years, high standards are what Coach Yoshino expects from his players. “I’d say that at the beginning of the year we had so much talent on paper that it would have been a failure from the coaching end if we didn’t win it all; at times it seemed unfair.” But due to injuries, reaching the goal of winning another championship will definitely be harder. “The team is going to have to work a little harder to reach that goal, which they are doing so far,” Yoshino said. Staying calm and collected while certain players are out because of injuries is how the team is approaching the situation. “We’re [the coaches and players] just going to go out and do what we need to do, whether we are favorites, underdogs, first place or whatever. If we keep that mentality and we happen to be in the championship game, we’ll need to stay with that approach and just let it happen.” With a record of 27-6, the Bulldogs are looking to be the team to reckon with. Watch them wrap up their regular season at their next home game Sunday, May 6, at 1:00 p.m. against the Skagit Valley Cardinals.