Everett High School head baseball coach Jaime Sluys wants coaching to be his career. He hopes that coaching and coaching alone will one day give him the ability to take care of his children.
If his job this summer is a sign of things to come, Sluys appears to be on his way.
After having his eye on the job for over a year, Sluys was hired as one of the assistants for the Alaska Goldpanners of the Alaska Baseball League, one of the more high-profile amateur baseball teams in the country.
Over the years players like Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and Tom Seaver have worn Goldpanners’ jerseys and now Sluys gets to work with the next generation of the elite.
“It’s just an opportunity, that’s all it is” Sluys said. “It’s not much. As far as baseball-wise goes it’s huge.”
Today, Sluys gets a little taste of home, as the Goldpanners face the Everett Merchants. Thursday the Goldpanners face the Merchants again in the 107th annual Midnight Sun Baseball Classic, a game played late at night using no artificial lighting.
It is the first time that the Merchants have made the trip up to Alaska to face the Goldpanners, making it all the more special to Sluys, who played for the Merchants in the 1990’s.
Sluys was hired by Goldpanners manager Jim Dietz, who has coached in Alaska for the past 16 seasons and also spent 31 seasons as the head coach at San Diego State University.
Sluys knows he isn’t going to get rich this summer with the Goldpanners, but hopes that this opportunity leads to more in the future.
“College coaches don’t get these opportunities,” Sluys said. “I’m just fortunate that I met all the right guys.”
It will be a busy summer for Sluys and the Goldpanners. The season lasts six weeks and in that time the team plays 45 games, which means not many days off.
Sluys expects that working on the Goldpanners staff will help make him a better coach and enable him to do an even better job at Everett High.
“Everett High baseball was just so doormat,” Sluys said. “We are trying to give kids a reason to come out and play. And this is one of those reasons. You’ve got a coach that’s working with some decent people. It might give (us) a chance.”
When Sluys arrived at Everett, the baseball program didn’t have much. In fact, as Sluys recalls there were no baseballs in sight. He literally was starting from scratch.
So, Sluys went shopping.
He fixed the problem of the lack of baseballs and turned his attention to the on-field product. He said the team has improved, but is still yet to meet its goal of advancing to the 3A District 1 tournament.
He expects the lessons he learns this summer will help him to improve the program even further next season.
“I’m going to be working with some of the top coaches in the country,” Sluys said. “So I’m going to improve. There is no doubt about that. I’m going to be learning new stuff every day and I’m going to be working with ex-major leaguers and Hall of Famers and I’m going to be coaching against the best college players in the country on a daily basis. I have no other choice than to absorb it and learn.
“And all of that is coming back to Everett High.”
Sluys graduated from Everett High School. The idea of bringing the baseball program back to prominence is something that motivates him still.
“Definitely,” Sluys said. “You can just kind of see the writing on the wall and you don’t want to tell yourself that is going to take two, three, four years, but deep down you know it’s going to take that long and after two years, now I think we are starting to come out of it.”
Aaron Lommers covers sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.