Merced College currently offers students with the opportunity to play multiple competitive sports, including football, softball, volleyball, and track and field. In addition, the college campus features a variety of athletic facilities, including an Olympic-sized swimming pool, baseball fields, and soccer fields. Students actively participate in a number of sports-related clubs, such as tennis and soccer club, and other programs that are available on campus include an athletic trainer program, where students can receive practical experience in athletic training. However, perhaps most significant to the Merced College campus is its baseball team, which was founded in 1972 and coached by Butch Hughes.
Since the 1970s, the baseball team at Merced College known as the Blue Devils has branched out internationally, and now features several international student players. The program offers students a positive opportunity for students to increase their playing skills in a supportive environment, combining English-learning and exposure to American culture with one of the world’s most famous sports. In addition, players from the Merced College team have gone on to be signed with Professional level baseball teams including the St. Louis Cardinals, the New York Yankees, the San Francisco Giants, the Oakland Athletics, the New York Mets, the Cleveland Indians and the Atlanta Braves, among others.
In addition, the Blue Devil team at Merced College is part of the Central Valley Conference, which includes such teams as Fresno, West Hills, Porterville, Reedley, COS, and Taft. As such, the Blue Devils is a competitive team which offers student players with multiple playing opportunities every year, as well as thorough practice during off-season.
“I started playing baseball when I was 10 years old. While playing baseball, players can improve themselves not only as players, but also as human beings, and baseball can give dreams to people. That’s why I love baseball. If I had never played baseball, I would have lived my life a lot differently. When I was playing as the Blue Devil team’s member, I had a really fun time with my teammates, and I learned that even though people speak different languages, people can connect with other country’s people and share one’s feelings with others through playing baseball. From such experiences, I could understand the greatness of baseball.”
- Motoki Kawashima,
Merced College alumni and former Blue Devil Team player
Players who join the Blue Devils will have the possibility of being evaluated for playing opportunities by the sports management company SDSA (the San Diego Sports Authority). SDSA runs the San Diego Summer League baseball, which offers athletes the ability to reach toward their maximum playing potential and become increasingly competitive, skilled players. Through the frequent exchanging of players, the Blue Devils team at Merced College and the San Diego Summer League teams, baseball players will have many opportunities to reach toward their dreams. The Blue Devils team is an exciting stepping stone to player achievement at home and abroad.
In addition, SDSA offers athletes with player management services which can help to build and strengthen their careers, as they become better equipped to take the next steps in their playing future. One of the highlights of SDSA is that it features personalized guidance for international students, to provide them not only with athletic support, mentorship and guidance, but also legal assistance with matters such as visa status. By enlisting SDSA’s sports management services, athletes can jump-start their career. In addition, YES ESL International, Inc. offers a positive environment for studying English, and homestay services to give students greater peace of mind while living abroad.
“I like baseball because it has so many actions like throwing, hitting, catching, running… I love it. Each action is exciting for me, and I like the feeling when you hit farther, run faster, or hit a home run. When I was a child, I saw a lot of professional baseball players on TV, and I was impressed, and thought – I want to be like that. Still, I want to improve my baseball skills to get close to them, so that is why I practice every day. I came to America because baseball was born in America, and also to learn English.”
- Kaito Yoshida, SDSA summer league player, MCELI student and prospective Blue Devils Team player
Nichidai Meisei High School Graduate
Merced College, Shinano Grandserows (2013)
Shouta Nagatomi played American collegiate baseball for one year as a regular outfielder, and earned 2nd place for the team district league. During the 2013 season, he played in all 38 games of the season. His record batting average was .317, with 33 runs, and 13 stolen bases. In addition, he won Gold Club Membership equivalent to the Best Nine in the Central Valley district through a California Community College affiliated league.
“At the beginning of the college semester, taking classes and participating as a part of the baseball team was all a first-time experience, and I didn't know how to progress. I felt like it was a so-so start. In addition to class hours, I felt a responsibility to meet with my professors during their office hours to ask questions. Also, I would ask my coach for advice whenever I felt like my baseball playing was getting worse. Excelling in both my studies as well as baseball playing is a goal toward which I am striving.”
Kamakura Gakuen High School Graduate
Merced College (California), Ishikawa Million Stars (2011)
While enrolled in Merced College, Okubo joined the San Diego Summer baseball league. In fall of 2011, he received the 2nd place nomination from the Japanese Independent League draft. In addition, Okubo desires to take his playing to the next level by joining the MLB.
For more information on the Blue Devils, SDSA, Merced College or MCELI, please contact us
Y.E.S. ESL International, Inc. at Merced College
3600 M Street, Mail Stop 22 Merced, CA 95348