Tysinger, Rodriguez reflect on coaching Rocha
December 20, 2018
Jose Rocha didn’t take long to begin launching home runs into the creek behind Field 1 at Purcell Park. His rapid improvement drew eyes from coaches everywhere. He quickly gained a reputation, and current varsity assistant coach Christian Rodriguez took notice immediately.
“I met Jose probably five or six years ago back in Little League. [People] used to always talk about this dude hitting two home runs a game, hitting bombs all the time. I went to check it out and he didn’t let me down,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez began working with Rocha in practice, and the two have built a relationship over the past few years, to the point where they regularly hang out and discuss Rocha’s future.
“I think of him like a son. We go everywhere together,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve [given him] advice like go to school and do your work. We have a lot of talks. I guess you never have a dull moment with him. He always keeps everything funny and light. If you’re going to have a serious conversation with somebody, have it with him because he’ll make it funny.”
Head coach Kevin Tysinger hasn’t known Rocha for quite as long, but has coached him for four years at the varsity level. Tysinger recognized his talent for the game from the get-go, and has enjoyed watching Rocha’s demeanor change as he’s gotten older.
“[He] wasn’t a very big kid, but he had a lot of baseball ability. I wasn’t really sure [about him] because he was, and still can be, quiet, so I wasn’t sure with his personality what he was going to be like out there,” Tysinger said. “[I didn’t know] if he could be a go get ‘em kind of guy or if he’d really have to be pushed, but he’s done a good job and he’s got a lot of inner drive.”
Recently, Rocha made his verbal commitment to Patrick Henry Community College, a two-year school in Martinsville, Virginia that competes at the JUCO level. Tysinger admitted it wasn’t a decision he expected as it came on a bit of a whim.
“He kind of caught me off guard with the Patrick Henry thing being that it’s a little farther from home and I’m not as familiar with their program. I know they have a good program, [but] I haven’t had any contact with their coaching staff so he kind of caught me really off guard, and I was a little shocked,” Tysinger said.
Rodriguez was one of the first to congratulate Rocha on his decision, but also made sure to caution him to keep his eyes open for other options.
“I gave him a hug and told him congrats, but not to close the book yet. It might be the best option right now, but [he hasn’t] played his senior year yet. Better options might come, better opportunities. That’s what we talked about,” Rodriguez said.
While most athletes require coaching to fix their mistakes, Tysinger has always been impressed by Rocha’s ability to self-correct in addition to asking for a coach’s help, a trait that will be of importance on a college roster with many more players and less individual attention.
“He recognizes flaws of his own pretty well. He’s quick to ask questions on his own before we call him out, but as far as baseball goes, there are things I wish he would take more charge of from a leadership standpoint. Skill stuff I don’t have to worry about as much with him,” Tysinger said.
Rocha, a shortstop, has played his last two summers of travel baseball with the Invaders out of Charlottesville, works out multiple days a week and plans to play his first season in the Rockingham County Baseball League in the upcoming summer. His passion for the game left Tysinger with a simple explanation on Rocha’s attitude.
“He pretty much seems to live and breathe baseball,” Tysinger said.