SHORELINE — The new Shoreline Community College baseball coach won’t be confined to the clubhouse.
Steve Seki is filling dual roles as coach and athletic success manager, a position the college created to monitor the academic progress of its student-athletes.
“My job is really to track every single athlete that comes to Shoreline. To make sure they’re staying on course to get their degree. To make sure they’re attending classes and getting good grades,” Seki said.
“We’re making academics a high priority here at Shoreline, which it should be. We’re stressing the fact that without academics, we can’t send you anywhere else after Shoreline.”
Beginning winter quarter, all freshman athletes as well as sophomore athletes experiencing academic difficulties will attend mandatory study halls. Seki has already organized weekly attendance checks and periodic grade checks.
“I have seen this approach for athletes at the university level and I’m excited that Shoreline Community College is once again in the forefront in promoting student success,” college president Holly Moore said in a news release.
Seki becomes the school’s 16th baseball coach since 1982. Under the previous staff, the Dolphins went a combined 29-51 the past two seasons.
“When a program’s been down for a while you don’t get the high expectations you want to get the program moving in the right direction,” Seki said. “My focus right now is to make sure expectation levels are getting higher and attitudes are conducive to winning.”
Recruiting is another top priority for Seki, who spent the last six years working with catchers and outfielders at the College of the Siskiyous, a junior college in Northern California.
More than 40 players took part in Shoreline’s fall ball schedule. Just six players from the 2004 roster are expected to return next spring.
“I do have a good group of players who are going to be competitive for us. I just need to get more of those kinds of players,” Seki said. “There’s a lot of talent in the Seattle area. It’s my goal to get some of those players to come and play for Shoreline.”
Past coaches have cited the college’s lack of a baseball field as an impediment to recruitment. Shoreline practices off campus and plays its home games at either Edmonds CC or on the road.
Seki prefers not to fixate on facilities issues.
“I’ve already told the players I’m not going to focus on the fact that we don’t have a field,” Seki said. “I don’t want to feel like I’m the victim here. I knew what I was walking into. I think it’s a challenge. It’s fun to know I’ve got a lot of hard work ahead of me.
“I’ve told the players, ‘Who cares where we’re playing? You’re playing baseball at the college level.’ As long as we get to be the home team at half the games, that’s all I care about. I don’t care where we play.”
Of greater concern for Seki is the caliber of competition the Dolphins are surrounded by in the seven-team NWAACC North Division.
Edmonds has advanced to the conference tournament 26 of the past 27 years and won back-to-back NWAACC titles in 2001 and 2002. Bellevue’s streak of 20 consecutive tournament appearances was snapped last spring by Skagit Valley.
“My goal is to be able to compete year-in and year-out for league championships,” Seki said. “The North is such a tough league to compete in, but I believe we can accomplish this in time.”