High school sports

AD goes to bat for the Lions

WESTMINSTER High School athletic director Kyle Gorham takes some swings at practice in November. (Photo courtesy Westminster High athletics)

By Tim Burt/OC SportsZone

Westminster High School baseball players and coaches had a surprise visitor to practice who created plenty of excitement when he picked up a bat and stepped into the batter’s box.

Athletic Director Kyle Gorham inspired the Lions players when he came to practice for Coach Craig Jones’ team in November. Gorham was wearing a mask, maintaining social distance and brought some hand sanitizer and extra masks to make sure everyone remained safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

Westminster’s athletic programs were still in athletic conditioning with players continuing to social distance and practice in groups but shared equipment in a group was allowed at the time, Gorham said. Since then, the CIF State office has put a hold on the start of actual competition as it waits for further guidance from the California Department of Public Health so it’s not known when sports could start in 2021.

Gorham said his visit to practice was meant to support the Lions players and coaches.

“I’ve been involved in sports for about 18 years as a water polo coach,” Gorham said. “I stepped away from that so I’m kind of in a new role of being the athletic director and I just like to get out of the office and build some relationships with kids and support my coaches.

“I’m a big baseball fan, I’m a die-hard Red Sox fan and I was a terrible Little Leaguer, so when I was a kid I was playing right field and batting ninth and my dad gave me some good advice at the time that maybe it was time to pick another sport. I settled on water polo, which has been great for me, but I’ve always loved baseball.”

He got his chance to take part in baseball for a short while.

“I was just taking a couple swings and saying hi to some kids and I think it goes a long way in me being an effective athletic director or how I view the role of athletics in a comprehensive high school,” he said.

Gorham said he took batting practice for about five minutes.

“I was surprised how well I was hitting it, but it got progressively bad so I decided to retire, just like I did in seventh grade,” he said.

Jones, the head coach, said his players were thrilled to see Gorham at practice. He had visited last week and during that time, played catch with one of the Lions’ players.

“It brought energy, that’s what you want out of your leaders and administrators,” Jones said. “The kids were enthralled, they all crawled out of the dugout because it was right before practice started. He had a full crowd (of players) and there was a lot of pressure on him. He was squaring up balls…. it brought my program to life. Now, they know the administrators are behind us.”

Jones said he is grateful for the support of his program.

“The support I get here from the principal to the assistant principal to the AD has just been tremendous,” he said. “They wear all our gear all the time, they wear our hats. It’s amazing. They’ve really backed us.”

Jones said his players went on to have their best practice of the year.

“It was a very good vibe,” he said.


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