Edison H.S. Inventors Have New Coach, Outlook
As the high school baseball season begins, so does a new tradition for the boys' varsity baseball team at Thomas A. Edison Technical and Vocational H.S. in Jamaica. The team's new motto is "Tradition starts today", and they are hoping to replace last year's 0-16 record with a new winning tradition.
The "reinventing" of the Inventors began with the hiring of new Head Baseball Coach Nicholas Vlavianos. Vlavianos coached the Tom Pecora Basketball Camp at Hofstra University in 2003 and the Greek Orthodox Youth Association (GOYA) Boys Basketball team of St. Demetrios, Astoria from 2002 to 2007. He led his boys' basketball team to the New York Metro Area Championship in '05- '06, posting a 13-2 record for the season. Most impressive, in all his coaching years he has always managed to bring his team to the playoffs.
This year, though, Vlavianos decided to trade his basketball clipboard for the smell of fresh cut grass and pine tar. Former Inventors baseball coach John Ulmer has decided to focus mainly on leading the Edison boys' basketball team to hard court glory and Vlavianos has taken his place on the baseball field. "I got some tough shoes to follow in Coach Ulmer," Vlavianos said. "I saw how hard he worked with the team last year and how hard he works with the boys' basketball team since he took over, I mean, just look at what he has done with that basketball program. I want to latch onto his success and build a successful baseball program, just like he has built up his basketball program."
Vlavianos' task is easier said than done. Edison baseball is not as well known as some of the other successful programs in the area or in the city, but the school has a lot to offer, most notably a rock solid education. "At Edison, our first and foremost priority is to ensure our students have the best education that they can get. Our educational accomplishments are well documented," Vlavianos declared. He makes it clear to his players that they are student-athletes and always required education first. By emphasizing education as a solid foundation, Vlavianos is now looking to build a highly regarded baseball program on that foundation.
Vlavianos frequently quotes the movie "Field of Dreams", telling his players, "If you build it, they will come," the "it" he cites referring to wins and ultimately success. "Kids want to play for a winning program, Edison baseball will be a winning program once again. Mark my words,"
Vlavianos understood that the team needed a facelift after going 0-16 last year, and it had to begin with him. "I had to start from scratch, which was actually a benefit for me," he said. "It showed me who really wanted to be part of the team and how badly they wanted it. I was able to mold this team into one that would follow my coaching philosophy. I want players that play with heart, never give up, hustle and they must be team players. Egos don't exist on my teams, I make sure of that." The most important quality for a player to possess? "Without a doubt, it's heart. A player has to have heart. You can teach a player to swing the bat or throw the ball, but you cannot teach a player to have heart. He either has it or not. To be on my team, you must have heart- period!"
What the players do as far as discipline and playing wisely when they play on their travel teams and whatnot is beside the point, Vlavianos added. "I wish them the best of luck and I'll root them on to be the best players on and off the field they can be, but when they put on that Edison uniform, we have rules and expectations and some of those expectations are that I expect them to play within the team's rules and, most importantly, play the game with heart our way- the Edison way."
So far, his team has shown some of that heart. They started off the year with a nonleague win over Long Island City H.S. and another non-league win over Townsend Harris H.S. They lost to Bryant H.S. and to Franklin K. Lane H.S., making their overall record 2-2 leading into league play. The team also suffered a minor setback being swept by Forest Hills and Benjamin Cardozo H.S. Vlavianos has taken the losses in stride. "We are a very young team and we are going to take our lumps," he said. "But in the long run, those lumps will make us a better team." As for Edison baseball's future, Vlavianos is confident. "We are young but I believe we have a bright future. What I like and I will build around is, we have a core of freshman pitchers with a tremendous upside. Combining that with the ace of our staff, who is a junior, along with some key positional players who are sophomores and juniors, I see some great things happening for our program in the near future."
Though Vlavianos has confidence in his team, he needs to instill that confidence in his players and fan base. "Patience, patience, patience," he said. "Once the team buys into my coaching style and what I expect from them on the field and in the classroom, we will have a winning program in both areas." The Thomas Edison baseball team and Vlavianos have the right approach and attitude to get the Inventors back on track. To see the Inventors' progress and schedule, visit the PSAL Web site at www.psal.org.