Mark Strauch - Coach, General Manager, Founder & CEO
- USA Baseball "A" and "B" and "C" Coaches Certifications
Mark's baseball life started in San Diego, where he played Little League and then high school baseball. After high school, he attended UC Santa Barbara and focused on academics, and graduated with a degree in Nuclear Engineering. Yes, he likes physics, which is very useful in terms of teaching and understanding baseball.
After college, he returned to San Diego and started playing again in 18+ baseball leagues and got involved in baseball operations helping run the SDABL for over a decade. On the field, he discovered his love of pitching which has become his primary position after playing catcher for most of his youth years. He has managed and played for countless teams, and has led teams to championships in five different divisions. He currently plays for the Black Sox, who participate in the National Adult Baseball Association World Series in Phoenix each October. Mark believes that continuing to play the game he love helps him teach it to the kids he coaches, and staying in baseball shape allows him to demonstrate what he teaches.
He has had the privilege of coaching Little League (8 yrs), All Stars (5) and High School (2) baseball. In 2016, he managed the 4SRLL 10U team which won the District 31 and Section 6 championships. He has also coached and managed in other travel ball organizations in the San Diego area, including the STARS and MIT (now BPA) and learned a lot during those experiences.
Coach Mark was drawn to the idea that the world of travel baseball needed to do more on behalf of players and families, and do it in a innovative, positive way. In 2016, he took the leap and resigned from his job as a tech entrepreneur --- starting the San Diego Hawks!
Mark has also started / launched other baseball services to support the larger San Diego Baseball community : San Diego Baseball Alliance (2019), The Nest Baseball Academy (2022).
Holistic Baseball - Founder
San Diego Hawks Baseball - Founder
Founder - SD Baseball Alliance
Owner - The Nest Baseball Academy
John Kennedy - Coach, Director of Operations
Assistant Head Coach Classical Academy
John Kennedy, Jr. was born and raised in San Diego. Baseball has been a huge part of his family life since he was just five years old. His father coached John and his younger brother throughout their youth and the two were practically raised on the little league fields. John and his brother both played varsity high school baseball as starters and went on to play for local community colleges in the late 90s. John was permanently injured during a try out for the Cincinnati Reds, but his passion and love of the game never wavered. His younger brother went on to pitch for several teams in the major leagues. John has played first base since he was thirteen years old and loves to share his passion for the position. He believes he has a lot to teach kids about the physical and mental aspects of America's pastime. John teaches not only the basics but also advanced techniques to excel at this awesome game.
Brett Balkan, Hitting Director, Sr. Director of Player Development
Brett Balkan was a 5 letter varsity athlete for Carlsbad high school in baseball and soccer. He then played baseball for San Diego Mesa College earning first team All-American and first team All-Conference honors in 2011. Additionally, Brett won a Rawlings Gold Glove in 2011 as the best shortstop in the Western Region for Junior Colleges (California, Washington, and Oregon). From there, Brett received a baseball scholarship and signed with California State University, Northridge. He played 3 seasons (2011-2014) and in his final year was named to the All-Conference team in the Big West Conference in 2014. He also earned the team defensive player of the year award for CSUN with a .982 fielding percentage at shortstop.
After college, Brett played 5 professional seasons in the Independent Professional Baseball Leagues. He won 2 championships, had 2 All-Star selections, was a MVP runner up, and in his final season of his career a regular season MVP and a post season MVP. In his professional career; Brett posted a .320 batting average, a .427 on base percentage, and recorded over 1,000 plate appearances. As an infielder, Brett had over a .970 career fielding percentage as a shortstop, second baseman, and third baseman.
Brett has coached baseball in San Diego for 10 years. He has coached high school as an infield and hitting coach for Rancho Bernardo High School and Mount Carmel High School. He has coached travel baseball at all ages for a decade now. He also has taught hitting and infield lessons for the last 10 years specializing in video analysis. Brett is an Epstein Certified Hitting Instructor. Brett has a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from California State University, Northridge (2014) and a Master’s Degree in Coaching and Athletic Administration from
Concordia University, Irvine (2019).
Andy Parrino - Coach, Senior Advisor
Andy Parrino played major league baseball for the San Diego Padres and Oakland Athletics, and played for Team USA in the Pan Am Games in 2015.
Andy played college baseball at Le Moyne in Syracuse, then was picked in the 26th round of the 2007 draft by the Padres.
Upon retiring from baseball in 2016, Coach Andy quickly found his way into coaching and leading young men on the field at Steele Canyon High School where his knowledge and work ethic led to significant improvement for that team. He also has multiple years of youth travel baseball coaching experience, and also coaches his son in local Little League baseball, where he has an undefeated season to his name.
Coach Parrino lives in Del Sur with his wife and three young children. Coach Andy currently coaches his son in 4S Ranch Little League, in the Single A division.
Jim Smith - Coach, Catching Director
- PA State championship 2009
- 4 years Division 1 baseball @ Saint Peter's University (NJ)
- 2 years professional baseball
- Roswell Invaders (Pecos League) - League Champions 2015
- Pecos League All-Star 2016
- Career .350 hitter in Pecos
- Coached travel baseball with PA Shockers (2014-2018), catching coordinator and travel coach
- Won 3 tournaments at 14U - 16U level
- Helped to develop multiple D1 talents
- Coached high school baseball for 3 high schools (2015-2022)
- Won 2 District titles (2018, 2019)
- #1 rank in PA for 2A baseball 2019
- 12 all-league honors for PA baseball
- 5 players received all-league honors for GA Baseball
- 3 players named pitcher/hitter of the year in conference (PA/GA)
Brian Wilson - Coach, Senior Advisor
Coach Wilson is homegrown and graduated from Mira Mesa High School in 1992. He was part of three CIF Championships with the Marauders. Coach Wilson earned All-Eastern League and All-CIF honors his senior year helping lead his team to a #1 state and #7 national ranking. He played two years at San Diego Mesa College, earning All-Pacific Coast Conference honors as one of the league’s top hitters. After walking on at SDSU and playing all winter for the Aztecs, Wilson returned to Mira Mesa High School as an assistant baseball coach for three seasons from 1995 to 1997.
Coach Wilson has over 8 years of travel baseball coaching experience and has led teams at all ages.
Tommy Simis - Coach, 14U Program Director
Tommy Simis was born and raised in San Diego. Attended Poway High School where he was a 3-year Varsity Baseball player and was a part of the 2006 and 2008 Div 1 CIF Championship teams. After graduating in 2008, he earned a scholarship to Cal State University Northridge (and played with Brett Balkan) to continue his career in baseball. As a Freshman, Tommy started 25 games as an infielder before suffering a devastating back injury. After missing his entire Sophomore season recovering from 2 spinal fractures, he started his following 3 seasons as a Captain of the team. After deciding to hang up his cleats due to nagging back problems, he finalized his college career with a Bachelor Degree in Urban Development with a Minor in Communications. After recovering from a spinal fusion in 2014, Tommy immediately began his coaching career with various travel baseball teams in San Diego before landing a High School Varsity position as the infield coach for Poway High School from 2017-2019. Tommy then went on to become the Head Coach at Torrey Pines High School from 2020-2023 and is starting a new chapter in the Fall of 2023 as a varsity hitting coach at San Marcos High School, opening up more time for him to invest in his passion for developing players as they prepare for high school baseball. Tommy currently works for PBS Construction, flipping and renovating apartments, condos and homes. He enjoys playing golf and basketball in his free time as well as watching sports. He currently lives in Carmel Mountain Ranch.
CJ Broussard - Coach, Director of Strength & Injury Prevention
CJ Broussard graduated from Ramona High School in 2014. His journey to success started at San Diego City College, where he played as a versatile two-way player during his freshman year. Taking his skills to the next level, CJ then earned a scholarship to California State University of Los Angeles where he continued to impress as a two-way player during his sophomore and junior season. He even spent the summer of 2016 showcasing his talent with the Palm Springs Power, under the watchful eye of manager and pro scout Casey Dill.
CJ had an exceptional Junior year where he earned the title of 1st Team All-Conference Utility Player, securing a spot on the CCAA All-Tournament Team and receiving All-American Honorable Mention honors. A highlight of his baseball journey came when the Minnesota Twins selected him in the 22nd Round of the 2017 MLB Draft as a right-handed pitcher.
After some injuries and set backs, CJ transitioned from player to mentor and embraced a Player Development role to nurture aspiring baseball players of all ages on the field and in the weight room, laying the foundation for PowerFuel Athletics to help baseball players achieve their goals while reducing the chance of injury.
But that’s not all; CJ also extends his expertise as a College Advisor with SportsForce, where he guides high school players, helping them maximize their scholarship opportunities, and assists families in making crucial decisions so we can find the overall best fit for the athlete's skill level and academics.
Jonathan Gutierrez - Coach
Jonathan has been involved in baseball and softball as a coach for the last 15 years throughout Kansas, Massachusetts and now the San Diego area. He started his coaching experience at Friends University in Wichita, KS after playing 4 seasons of professional baseball as a Left Handed Pitcher. He was drafted in the 25th Round by the Boston Red Sox. He pitched at Arizona State University and Central Arizona College.
Bryce Barajas - Coach
- Son of Rod Barajas (13 years of big league experience, 2001 World Series Champion)
- Second oldest of 8 children and knows how to connect with young pitchers
- Right Handed Pitcher
- Park University at Gilbert (2019-2020)
- San Diego Christian College (2020-2022)
- Coached for San Diego Stars High School Program (summer of 2023)
- San Diego Hawks baseball program (9U, 13U) : 2023 - Current
Gage Canning - Coach
Coach Gage is a true baseball enthusiast with deep ties to Ramona, California where he played varsity high school baseball for 4 years. From there, Gage continued to Arizona State University, where he made his mark during three unforgettable years. His college achievements drew the attention of scouts and led to a memorable day --- In the 5th round of the draft, outfielder Gage Canning was chosen by the Washington Nationals, marking the start of his professional baseball career. Over four years in the minors, he climbed the ranks to reach the Double-A level.
Today, Coach Gage Canning brings his wealth of experience and love for the game to the field. His journey, from a tight-knit community to the pros, is an inspiring example of dedication and perseverance. He's committed to guiding young athletes and helping them achieve their own baseball dreams.
Logan Parker - Coach, Camps Director
Coach Logan fell in love with baseball at the age of 4 playing little league baseball his whole life including 4S Ranch Little League for his final 6 years. He has been playing travel baseball since he was 8 and to this day plays for the San Diego Waves Collegiate team. Logan attended Del Norte High School, played varsity baseball for 3 years earning 1st team all league honors and the Nighthawk award for play on the field, character and leadership off it. He now finds himself as a freshman baseball player at Palomar college where he is both a CF and RHP.
Eric Kahnert - Coach
Coach Eric is a recognizable face around San Diego, but long before launching his career as a news anchor and reporter, he was a 3-sport athlete growing up in Minnesota. Baseball, football and hockey kept him busy through his younger years all the way through college. Coach Eric is familiar with the competitiveness of travel baseball, having played on travel teams competing at the national level in his early teen years. It was Eric’s hockey skills that led to him playing Division II hockey at the University of Southern California. As a 4-year Captain, he led teams to numerous conference championships and became USC’s first ever All-American. Over the past decade, Coach Eric has enjoyed coaching both of his sons' numerous baseball and hockey teams. He’s an active volunteer with 4S Ranch Little League, and a hockey coach with San Diego Ice Arena.
Coach Eric is also a familiar face on San Diego TV. Since 2017 he’s been waking up many of you each morning as a news anchor on CBS8. He often shares the success stories of the San Diego Hawks program with his loyal viewers. Eric is a ten-time Emmy Award-winning broadcaster. To learn more about Coach Eric’s career as a journalist, go here:
Jacob Benson - Coach
- Played baseball from age 4 - 23.
- Played local travel baseball for the California Lookouts, 4s Ranch Eagles, CBA Baseball, and Team California.
- 4 year baseball player at Mt. Carmel High School, 3 year starting infielder for the varsity baseball team.
- Back to back defensive MVP for Mt. Carmel Varsity baseball team in 2015 and 2016. Won it once as a 2nd baseman and once as a Shortstop.
- 4 year starting Shortstop and 2nd baseman for the University of La Verne Baseball team.
- Captain of the University of La Verne baseball team from 2018-2020
- 2nd all time assists leader for a shortstop at the University of La Verne
- 1 time conference champion of the SCIAC conference in 2018
- 1 year of professional baseball experience in France playing for the Clermont-Ferrand Arvernes
- Helped with player camps and personal hitting instruction in France as part of my contract
- 2 years of coaching experience with Scripps Baseball Club, spent one year as the assistant to the 12u team and one year as the head coach of the 10u team
Kelton Carpenter - Coach
Kelton has had a passion for baseball from a young age that led him to success all the way through high school, where he was a three year varsity player at Mt Carmel High School. He forewent the opportunity to play college baseball to focus on his academics at the next level. His passion for the game has not waned and why he is excited to be a part of the Hawks coaching staff impacting young players in the game he loves.
Matthew Leong - Coach
Coach Matt Leong was born in San Francisco, California where he began his baseball career playing in both the SFPSBL and the San Francisco Rascals Club Baseball team. Later, Matthew moved out to San Ramon California where he played first-base, center-field, and pitched (LHP) for his high school, California High School (San Ramon). Prior to his time playing high school, Coach Matt played for the San Ramon Slammers Club Baseball team (14U-18U) and assisted in coaching younger teams (12U-13U) during his high school off-seasons.
Coach Matt stepped away from baseball after high school due to a shoulder injury, but stayed close to the game during his time as an undergraduate at San Diego State University and a graduate student at UCLA.
Prior to joining the Hawks, Coach Matt got back into baseball in San Diego by volunteering his time as an assistant coach for the Carmel Mountain Ranch Little League where he focused specifically on player development, defense, and pitching. Coach Matt brings an analytical mindset and robust technical knowledge to the game and is constantly looking for ways to enhance the player development experience.
Brian Crow - Coach
Brian played four years at Del Norte, seeing time on the Varsity during all four years. He primarily played catcher (with a strong arm) throughout his time as a Nighthawk baseball player. Brian has a passion for baseball and cherishes every opportunity he gets to positively impact his players.
Brian was part of our 11U (Elite) coaching staff in 2022/23 that went a combined 48-17-1. Brian was a volunteer manager for 4S Ranch Little League and also participated as a coach for the Intermediate All Stars team. He loves baseball and teaching the game!
Stephen Klenske - Pitching Coach
Stephen played four years of varsity baseball at Sage Creek where they won 2 CIF championships. He played freshman and sophomore year travel ball with Team California and my junior and senior year in scout ball with the Atlanta Braves scout team. As a senior he was named 2nd team All American and first team All State with 90 innings, 126 K’s and a 0.39ERA. Stephen was drafted in the 14th round by the Phillies but declined to take a full ride to Sacramento State. Due to covid he decided to come back home to play at Palomar.
In 2023, Stephen attended College of Southern Nevada where he was the closer. He pitched 13 innings --- striking out 16 and giving up only 3 earned run through the season. He was consistently clocked at 90-94 and has four effective pitches he can throw for strikes. His goal is to get to 97 and be as good as he can be. He played collegiate summer ball for the Bismarck Larks where I was a long reliever and had a couple starts as well. It was quite the experience given that there are thousands at every game and kids from all over came to watch us play and enjoy the festive feeling of summer baseball! In the Fall of 2023 --- Stephen received a full scholarship to University of Mary where I will be attending in the Winter / Spring 2024.
Stephen has experience coaching players at baseball camps at Sacramento State. He also have over a year of experience as part of the Hawks coaching staff helping guide baseball players as pitchers and his passion --- the mental side of the game.
Kyle Burns - Coach
Kyle grew up playing American Legion baseball and continued to play all the way through high school. His kids have reignited his passion for the game and has been coaching the game for the last 3 years as part of that journey. His experience with Escondido American Little League and an Escondido Eagles travel team. His organizational skills along with his love and passion for the game make him an exceptional coach.
Chad Berkey - Coach
Chad played baseball growing up in Somerset, Pennsylvania, and loved the game. As a teenager, his passion and aptitude led him a different direction --- he became a professional motocross racer where I traveled the country in that sport! Chad has also played football as well as wrestled in high school.
Coach Chad is currently a fully sponsored mountain bike racer and work with multiple organizations that help train kids to learn, basic, biking, and mountain biking skills. He has coached the game of baseball in 4S Ranch, Rancho Bernardo, and four years at Tecolote. He loves working with all the players to help them be the best they can be.
Bennett Parry - Advisor, Pitching Specialist
- Over 10 years of professional pitching experience, all around the world
- Drafted by the Baltimore Orioles
- Experienced baseball coach and advanced pitching instructor
- Hawks Coach - 14U / 15U (2022 - 23)
- Pitching Director - The Nest Baseball Academy (2022 - 23)
- Pitching Coach - San Diego City College
The California State University, Northridge alum spent the first five seasons (2011-15) of his career in the Baltimore Orioles organization and then pitched two seasons (2016-17) with the Lincoln Saltdogs of the American Association. Parry was originally selected by the Orioles in the 40th round of the 2011 amateur draft. The left-hander spent time during the 2018 and 2019 seasons with the Long Island Ducks. He combined to make 19 starts, compiling a 7-1 record with a 2.98 ERA, one complete game and 148 strikeouts to 42 walks over 111.2 innings pitched. Parry’s contract was then purchased by the Chinatrust Brothers of the Chinese Professional Baseball League in Taiwan. The 31-year-old began the 2019 season with the Ducks, going 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA and 32 strikeouts in five starts. His contract was then purchased by Pericos de Puebla of the Mexican League on May 22. Parry went on to make two starts with Puebla and seven with Rieleros de Aguascalientes in Mexico.
Tim Rogers - Advisor, Coach
Coach Rogers discovered his love of baseball while playing Little League in Long Beach, California. His move to the Central Coast only fed his desire to learn and play the game as he played every year except his junior year of high school. He then went to college in San Diego where he has lived since. He raised two sons and was part of 4S Ranch Little League from 2005 through 2014 and 2017. He was a manager, coach, board member and umpire in his years there and was named the Richard Budlong winner as the volunteer of the year for District 31 in 2014.
Along with his career as a software architect he is the “prospect guru” and senior editorial writer for DodgersNation.com. He is also the co-founder and editor-in-chief for the DodgersNation sister site Dodgers2080.com. In his duties for both he has covered the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes in the California League and has developed relationships with the coaches and players of one of the foremost player development organizations in baseball.