Culver City Observer -

By Steve Finley
Sports Editor 

Good things come to those who wait

 

George Laase

From the old to the new. Long time Culver City head baseball coach, Rick Prieto, left, is turning the program over to one of his former players, Devaughn Wallace.

For the first time in almost three decades the Culver City baseball program will have a new head coach. Culver City stayed in house and hire one of their own. Devaughn Wallace was named the head coach a few weeks ago after long time head coach Rick Prieto decided to retire.

Wallace attended elementary school, middle school and high school in Culver City. For four years he played baseball and football at the high school, and he became a football star playing the old fashion fullback position but his love for baseball never wavered. For fours year he was either on the football field or the baseball diamond as a catcher, third baseman and pitcher.

How did Wallace feel when he got the job? "I was elated," said Wallace while standing on the Culver City baseball field this week. "I was excited. This is something I have been working towards ever since I was in college. This was a goal of mine. I wanted to be able to teach at the high school level and be a baseball and football coach. I am almost finish accomplishing my goals."

Wallace has paid his dues. For many years he has coached freshmen and junior varsity baseball and football teams at Culver City High School, and he also coaches his son's little league team. "With me being the head freshmen football coach the past several years I understand how important development is. One of my first freshmen football teams I coached went on to win a CIF Championship in 2018 when those players became juniors."

Wallace wants to combine his football and baseball knowledge and experience and bring that to the varsity baseball diamond. "That's what I plan on doing in the baseball program, continue to build on the foundation coach Prieto has built over the years. I want the guys to know that we have a system in place, and I want them to have input into the system so we can get the best out of them."

Some coaches who were good players put to much pressure on kids to be as good or better than they were. "Each individual kid is different," said Wallace. "I am not going to put any pressure on them. But I will encourage them to do their best and I am going to try to pull the best out of them. We are going to open up the weight room and we are also going to let the players have some input in practice. We want to know what they like to do. They have always had input so we will just continue the things coach Prieto has done. We want them to have fun and keep them interested in what they are doing. As you know the season is a long grind over time and we want to keep them as fresh as possible."

Wallace comes from an athletic family so when he got the job, they celebrated with him. "My family is very happy," said Wallace. "They can't wait for the first game to come out and show their support. This is home for me. Culver City has always been home for me. This is very special."

There is one family member that was also very special to all of the baseball and football players who played with Wallace from 1996-2000. His name was Matthew Balthazar, Wallace's grandfather. He passed away in the summer after Wallace graduated. In the four years Wallace played both sports his grandfather never missed a practice or game. The Culver City weight room is named after Balthazar.

"I know he is smiling up there," said Wallace. "What people don't know is that his last day of living one of his last stops was the Culver City baseball field. He was here watching me play an American Legion game after my senior year. It means a lot for me to be here now. It's a special moment."

When Wallace looks for inspiration, he can always think of his grandfather. "He taught me that hard work, dedication and commitment will take you a long way not only in sports, but also in life."

 

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