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Former player returns to help champs

Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune Zachary Wyatt stretches out before helping the Madera American Little League 12-year-old All-Star team practice before last weekend’s NorCal State Tournament. Wyatt, a former player of manager Guni Grewal, returned to the league that helped him grow as a baseball player


The coaching staff of Madera American Little League’s Lee’s Concrete had such an effect on Zachary Wyatt that when manager Guni Grewal asked him to help coach, Wyatt jumped at the opportunity.

“He asked me to come out in January,” Wyatt said. “I had some free time so I went out there. I went out there and stayed throughout the year. I was giving it a chance, but ended up liking it.”

To Grewal, to see a former player want to come back and then helping out is an honor.

“Somebody went through your program, believed in it and he’s coming back to help you with the program,” Grewal said. “Somebody taught him and now he wants to give back to the community. It’s very honorable. For a young man doing this and giving his time. He spent the whole year with us. He’s given just as much time as we have. He’s doing everything, giving up a lot of his time. He’s a very smart kid.”

With Wyatt in tow, Grewal, along with longtime coaches Alfonso Contreras and Rick Castro, Lee’s Concrete went undefeated through the M.A.L.L. and won the Madera City Championship. He also stayed along to help the 11-12-year-old All-Star team win the District 10 championship and then the Section 7 championship before playing in the NorCal State Championships in Redding over the weekend.

“It’s awesome to come back,” Wyatt said. “Now I know a little bit more going through high school. It’s great to be back.”

With Wyatt, Grewal has a role model he can point to. He can tell the kids about they way things are done and Wyatt is there to show them. Wyatt is also used as a model for Grewal’s coaching style.

“It feels kind of good to be the role model,” Wyatt said. “But, it puts a lot of pressure on me to make sure they know what they’re doing and what to expect. I hope I do a good job teaching them like Guni and them have taught me through the years.”

Grewal can also use Wyatt in other ways, like throwing to the kids at practice since the other Lee’s coaches are getting older.

“I told him we were getting old and we need some young life,” Grewal said. “At the beginning, he was watching how our system flows. Now, he’s in charge of the pitchers. He hits infield/outfield, pitches to them and just a little bit of everything. He does a little bit more everyday. He’s also in charge of conditioning.”

In January, Grewal happened to see Wyatt at a movie theater and asked him if he would like to come out and help out.

“We met at a movie and he came up and to say hello,” Grewal said. “ I asked him what he was doing. I knew he played at San Joaquin Memorial-Fresno. He said he was going to school. I thought he was playing at Fresno City College. I asked him if he wanted to come out to coach. He came out the first practice and has been here ever since.”

“I had some free time so I went out there,” Wyatt said.

Grewal knew he was getting a good player. Not only from his playing time at Lee’s, but he also knew Wyatt was successful at San Joaquin Memorial, where he was a lead-off batter and hit .400.

“He was a good hitter in high school,” Grewal said. “He knows how to hit the ball. He’s always been one my top Lee’s players. He’s very disciplined. He’s a role model for these kids.”

Wyatt is a 2016 graduate of San Joaquin Memorial-Fresno and also works on Grewal’s ranch.

“I just enjoy coaching,” Wyatt said. “I don’t know how to explain it. I love the sport of baseball, whether it’s playing or coaching. The kids make it so much easier to come out and keep doing it.”

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