Coming from the Cerritos College diamond as a player, Titans Head Coach Rick Vanderhook will enter his 28th season with the Cal State Fullerton baseball program with the same mentality and toughness he established when he became head of the team in 2012.
Vanderhook joined Titans baseball as an athlete in the 1984 season, in which the team won a national championship. He then turned to coaching, beginning as an assistant coach the following year, when he would earn another ring.
Since 1991, Vanderhook has witnessed many of Fullerton’s teams place first or second in the Big West conference. The lowest position the team fell to with him on the staff was fifth, which only happened once in his career.
Vanderhook also spent some time off of Goodwin Field where he gathered more experience as an assistant coach at Cal State Northridge for two years (1989-90) and at University of California, Los Angeles for three (2009-11).
Fullerton was able to end a five-year College World Series drought when the team made its first appearance under Vanderhook in 2015, and since then, the Titans have totaled their NCAA College World Series appearances to 18.
“I think you create your own luck on how hard you work at things,” Vanderhook said.
— Titan Baseball (@BaseballTitans) February 7, 2018
The decorated coach has created a name for the team, prompting D1baseball.com to rank it the ninth-best program in the country.
Recognized for his coaching achievements, Vanderhook was named as one of the assistant coaches for the 2017 Collegiate National Team. He was able to help the team achieve a 15-5 record over the summer before returning to prepare the Titans for the season.
Fullerton understands the work ethic its head coach expects from his team, especially if they can’t come out victorious in friendly games against Titans baseball alumni.
“The current team is usually supposed to win. When the alumni team wins, Hooky is not so happy,” said outfielder Chris Prescott.
The bond that Vanderhook has with his team can be seen through the communication that led them to the 6-3 win over the alumni and the nicknames that each athlete has given him.
This attitude has come from Vanderhook’s adaptive coaching over the years. He maintains a “tough love” coaching style which has proven to be a success given the accolades of the last six years. However, he focuses most on what would help his team learn necessary skills on a deeper level.
“You need to be a little more subjectable as you go through stuff. So they can see it and read it and do it more than just seeing it and doing it, seeing and doing it,” Vanderhook said.
The Titans are set to travel for their season opener against Stanford University on Feb. 16.