The Temecula Valley High School baseball program has been hard at work reinventing themselves with the addition of new coaches and a mantra that would excite any program that has had its fair share of ups and downs over the past few years. The phrase “Bringing it back” is plastered everywhere for the 2014 CIF-SS Division II Champions, who have had numerous post season appearances, but the program has also had a hard time keeping a head coach since the departure of the school’s most successful coach, Tony Nobiensky, in 2015.
In his six years with TV, Nobiensky guided the Golden Bears to a 105-57-1 overall record, five playoff appearances, two Southwestern League titles and two CIF-Southern Section title game appearances. Yes, those are big shoes to fill and two coaches have tried so far, but the momentum has since shifted in a more positive direction with the hiring of Darric Merrell, a Temecula native and Class of 2000 TVHS graduate. After his junior year at Cal State Fullerton, Merrell was drafted in the 8th round of the 2003 MLB draft by the Colorado Rockies and spent 4 full seasons in the minor leagues as both a starting pitcher and reliever. A career ending shoulder injury happened in 2008, but his passion for baseball carried him to get his degree and helped him build a tremendous resume as a coach, not only here in the valley, but also in areas around Orange County.
This past Friday Merrell and his rejuvenated program locked up the fields after practice and went into the weekend excited to play their weekend scrimmages, like most local programs, not thinking about what trouble lurked in the darkness. Early Sunday morning the program woke up to the news that their press box, team room, golf cart and storage units were vandalized. Equipment was stolen, lockers destroyed, and the press box was torn apart and sprayed with a fire extinguisher.
Not only did they hit the baseball facility, the vandals trashed two other areas of the Temecula Valley High School campus over the weekend, school district officials said Monday, Jan. 29. The other areas targeted were the Hungry Bear Cafeteria and a satellite snack bar. Although the losses are still being assessed, a district spokeswoman said the vandals appear to have caused more property damage than theft. An online GoFundMe account was immediately set up by some of the parents of the program who are looking to the community for not only help in finding the vandals, but also to help replace some of their equipment.
“So much time, effort and money has been put into this program and now much of it is destroyed. Needless to say, with budget cuts, it will be impossible to replace everything,” says parent Mandy Rayfield via Facebook, who set up the original GoFundMe account. “Please if you have any contacts, connections or if you are willing to donate please let us know. I’m just heartbroken. If anyone has information about this or you see anything of ours out there, please let us know.”
The program will need a steel door, new lockers, a big steel storage container, dry wall to be done in press box and locker room, they are looking for a used gator or three wheeled sand/bunker rake for the field or a used golf cart. The district has some surveillance footage and officials suspect the vandals were at the school early Sunday, Jan. 28. The campus is in the 31500 block of Rancho Vista Road, off Margarita Road and east of the Ronald Reagan Sports Park. Anyone with contacts that may be able to help is asked to contact the program via email at [email protected] An online square account is also set up, which is a direct donation site utilizing their Nonprofit ID. Anyone with information on possible suspects should contact the local police department. Visit www.tvhsbaseball.com for more information.