Salt Lake Community College baseball head coach David Nelson has two words that he teaches to help students and parents make it through baseball and everyday life.
“Get better,” says Nelson. “If a player is upset or does not like certain things, the best lesson we can teach ourselves and our kids is to strive to get better.”
This philosophy may have influenced Nelson’s decision to hire Jeremy Berg, who in 2014 had just finished his professional career as a player with the Salt Lake Bees, the AAA affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels.
“From rookie to majors, everyone knew Berg was the right one to recruit to help with sidearm pitching,” says Nelson.
Berg is well known for his submarine style of pitching, a method where the pitcher releases the ball underhand, instead of the traditional style of overhead pitching.
“It just felt like the right way to throw the ball and was the most comfortable for me,” says Berg.
Berg faced opposition to his style when he played at Cal-State Northridge just after high school. The coach wanted to change his pitching to a more traditional throw.
Berg feels he left the experience a better person.
“They taught me a lot about pitching, it was not a wasted experience,” says Berg. “I was forced as a young man to reinvent myself.”
That lesson is one of many experiences he uses to mentor the Bruin pitching staff.
“Working with their techniques and their delivery of their style tends to have a lot more success than changing their style entirely,” says Berg.
Berg also feels that athletes who play multiple sports make for a more well-rounded athlete.
“When we learn different movements, we teach our bodies how to develop athletically in different ways, and that allows us to become stronger, more solid overall athletes,” says Berg.
Academics are a priority in the development of SLCC baseball players. The coaches want their players to be well rounded not just an athlete, but as a scholar.
“We are a stepping stone to the next level for many of our players,” says Nelson. “We focus a lot on their grades, so much that over the last four years, our players have all had at least a 3.0 GPA.
“Our philosophy to ‘get better’ works in that aspect as well, they quickly learn to understand the importance.”
It is not always easy to make the switch from being a pro player to a coach, but Nelson and other SLCC staff is making it a lot easier for Berg.
“Nelson is a really good coach and has a lot of experience, he has been doing this for a long time,” says Berg. “He continues to educate me on a lot of the differences between being a player versus being a coach and what really works best for the players and the team.”
Under the direction of David Nelson, the Bruins have been highly successful with two Region championships, two top 20 finishes in the NJCAA rankings and a conference championship.
Nelson has sent over 100 players on to bigger schools. Over the years nearly 20 former Bruins players have gone on to play pro ball.
The Bruins baseball 2016 roster and schedule is available at slccbruins.com.