Melissa Sanchez has been named as the next Burbank High girls’ softball coach.
Sanchez replaces Mike Delaney, a longtime softball coach in Southern California, who recently stepped down from the position.
For Sanchez, it’s a homecoming of sorts after playing for the Bulldogs and now stepping in as coach.
“I’m so excited for the opportunity,” said Sanchez, who played for East Los Angeles College and then won a scholarship to Cal State University East Bay where she played center field. “I can’t wait to start. This is not a hobby. It’s a full-time job and I’m going to give 110 percent.”
At this point, Sanchez, who has been a travel ball coach, is just getting her feet wet, but thinks the future is going to be bright for the Bulldogs.
Under Delaney, the Bulldogs were usually in the top half of the Pacific League standings and more often than not advanced to the CIF Southern Section playoffs.
This is Sanchez’s first head coaching job, but played for Burbank beginning with her freshman season in 2006 and capping it off in 2009 when she graduated.
“My values and philosophy are to push the girls hard in order to be the best players that they can be. They will be confident and will have a winning mentality.”
Sanchez they added: “There’s going to be structure during practice and it’s going to be regimented. I’m going to develop the girls. It begins at the junior varsity level. That’s why you need a good JV coach in order to bring along the young ones.”
Sanchez was asked what’s the main difference between coaching travel ball and high school.
“The difference in travel ball is you can pick and choose the players,” she said. “In high school, you get what you get. But on the softball field, I control the energy level.”
Sanchez said loyalty is a key. “I think it’s important to learn loyalty,” she said. “Loyalty to the program is important. To make that commitment. I’m from Burbank. I want to build the program.”
Sanchez continied: “I know that it takes time to build that trust. But as long as I’m prepared, I think that I’m going to build a solid program that’s going to be good. I want to show that they made the right choice in hiring me.”
Sanchez believes it’s the coaches responsibility to get the team pulling in one direction, as Tom Lasorda, former Dodger and Hall of Fame manager famously once said.
“It’s the coaches job to motivate the girls to play,” she noted. “To explain why it’s important to work hard, to be excited and want to go to practice.”
In Sanchez’s system, everyone on the team will contribute, and that includes the substitutes. “The bench will have a big role,” she explained. “It’s going to be a positive environment.”