CSUN Baseball Touches Lives Through Community Engagement
New CSUN head baseball coach Dave Serrano has hit the ground running in strengthening his program’s ties to the community through outreach and service.
Throughout his career, Serrano has emphasized community service, which not only creates supporters but also helps his players become better human beings.
“I think it’s very important to reach out and maybe touch someone’s life in a way that you can impact them for the rest of their lives,” Serrano said. “I think sometimes our players are put on a platform because of what they do and people look up to them, and I think it’s important for our players to realize that they can be a positive impact in someone’s life.”
On Dec. 6, the Baseball team joined the CSUN Women’s Basketball team and CSUN Spirit teams (Band, Cheer and Dance) in volunteering for the 19th annual Dignity Health Northridge Hospital “Helping Hands Holiday Jam” Event for Children. Three hundred and fifty children from local area elementary schools between the ages of 7 and 10 from the San Fernando Valley, who are part of the “Title1/No Child Left Behind” program that provides financial assistance to local agencies, celebrated with carnival games, arts and crafts, food, a visit with Santa and a bag full of gifts to take home.
The athletes greeted children, assisted with set-up, serving food and carnival games. CSUN Baseball had a personal connection to the event, as new infielder Gabe Gonzalez’s mother, Sonia Kang, is a former registered nurse married to Dr. Richard Kang, the head of the pediatric center. Gonzalez has also long been involved with Special Olympics, mostly coaching softball, as his older sister, Breanna Gonzalez, competes in multiple sports.
“After maturing and growing up, I see what good it does,” Gonzalez said. “And I see the smiles on the kids faces. It makes me feel happy and makes feel like I’m doing good.”
Serrano said his players will also volunteer their time at hospitals and at local schools, with plans to read to children or to participate in or coach physical education activities.
The baseball team will touch hundred of lives this year as it hosts several youth camps and Little League Sundays, which enable young players to receive coaching as they play on Matador Field. Serrano said he is searching for partners to help fund scholarships for the youth camps, which would enable children from families with low incomes to participate.
Serrano, the former University of Tennessee head coach who has led both UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton to the College World Series, said he has always focused on community outreach because that’s what his coaches taught him. In addition to numerous youth development programs, he was a board member for Big Brothers and Big Sisters in Eastern Tennessee while coaching at Tennessee. He also hosted an annual golf tournament that raised more than $100,000 for the program.
He inherits a program at CSUN that has focused on community service since the 1960s. These programs include aspects designed to develop leadership and civic virtues as well as college readiness.
“We welcome anyone to reach out to our program,” Serrano said. “And if they feel that we can provide a helping hand doing something for the organization, I’m always open to that.”