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).
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.
Aaron Leicester - Coach, Pitching Director (7U - 12U)
Coach Leicester was born and raised in San Diego where he participated in youth baseball and Little League in Mira Mesa. He played travel baseball as a LHP and 1st baseman from ages 7-17 on various teams in San Diego. He attended Scripps Ranch High School for his freshman year, where he earned Offensive Player of the Year honors. He moved to Mira Mesa High School for his sophomore through senior years, where he earned multiple awards including Offensive Player of the Year, Pitcher of the Year, and 1st and 2nd team All Eastern League Conference. He was also selected as a Union Tribune Scholar Athlete. He hit .400 or above every year he played but one, and was scouted by multiple colleges. He chose to play for the Palomar Comets, but has delayed his college baseball career due to injury. He loves working with kids and is excited to be a part of the Hawks program.
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)
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.
Jacob Flores - Coach
- Pitched collegiately at San Diego State University (SDSU)
- 2021 Mountain West All-Academic Selection
- 2020 Mountain West All-Academic Selection
- 2020 SEASON (As A Junior): Tied for second on the team with eight appearances during his junior campaign that was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic … Posted a 2-0 record and a 1.45 earned run average, which ranked second in the Mountain West … Also found himself among the conference leaders in several categories, including strikeouts (T-3rd - 25), strikeouts/9 innings (3rd - 12.05), victories (T-3rd - 2) and opposing batting average (4th - .203)
- 2019 SEASON (As A Sophomore): Posted a 2-2 record with one save in 20 appearances … Ranked second on the team with a 3.75 earned run average in 36.0 innings to go with 38 strikeouts
- 2021 SEASON (As A Redshirt Junior): Pitched 5.0 innings in seven games as a reliever with six strikeouts
Bennett Parry - Coach, Pitching Instructor
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.
Graham Johnson - Coach, Pitching Specialist
Graham was drafted in the sixth round by the Florida Marlins in 2008 out of Westlake High School as a right handed pitcher and opted to pass up the opportunity to go play for Fresno State who had won the college world series that year. His time with the Marlins organization ended in 2013 and was then signed by an independent team in the Frontier league hoping to be resigned by an affiliated club. Unfortunately, a nagging elbow injury that had been bothering him since 2011 ended that season in August and an MRI showed a grade 3 tear in his ulnar collateral ligament. He had Tommy John surgery February of 2014 and missed the next two season rehabbing my arm hoping that he'd get a chance to play again. In 2016, another independent pro team the, Sioux City Explorers of the American Association took a chance on Graham. What ended up being his best season ended up being his last --- and he then moved to San Diego from Los Angeles to begin school at the University of San Diego.
He also has quite a bit of coaching experience too! :)
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.
Thomas Luevano - Coach
- Played second base, outfield and DH while playing college baseball at University of San Diego (USD)
- WCC Player of the Year (2021)
- All-WCC First Team (2021)
- WCC All-Academic Team
- WCC Player of the Week (2/24/2020, 5/31/2021)
- Collegiate Baseball Third Team All-American (2021)
- Academic All-District First Team (District 8, 2020)
- WCC All-Academic Team honoree (2020)
Upon completion of his playing career, Coach Thomas immediately gravitated to coaching youth players and giving back to the game he loves. He has a coached multiple youth baseball camps while a player at Creighton and USD, as well addition experience doing 1 on 1 lessons and running a youth travel ball team.
When you meet Coach Thomas and see him work with players, you'll see that he has a gift teaching the game and we are very fortunate to have him as part of our coaching staff.
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.
Jim Gusich - Advisor and Evaluator
Coach Gusich was raised in Glendale, Arizona where he succeeded in baseball at Deer Valley High School. Earning a 1st Team All-Desert Valley Region Player Selection as an outfielder in 1996, Jim took his love for the game to the next level. Beginning his collegiate career at Missouri Valley College (NAIA -96-98), Coach Gusich later transferred to Colorado Mesa University in the fall of 1998.
As an outfielder at CMU, Coach Gusich was part of two Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Championships (1999, 2001). Following graduation in 2001, Coach Gusich became part of the CMU coaching staff from 2001-02 through 2003-04. During his assistant coaching tenure at CMU, he served the Mavericks as lead outfield coach, assistant hitting instructor, and assistant to the head coach.
Following the 2003-04 campaign, Coach Gusich turned to a different aspect of the game and became an umpiring official, mentored by some of the top NCAA umpires and rules coordinators. Coach Gusich moved to San Diego in 2011 where he quickly made an impact within the 4S Ranch Community.
Coach Gusich currently is the assistant varsity baseball coach at Del Norte High School. His areas of focus are 1st base coach, assistant to the head coach, co-hitting instructor, lead outfield instructor, lead base running instructor, youth camp coordinator, youth program coordinator, and Del Norte Liaison to 4S Ranch Little League.
Coach Gusich continues to volunteer his time with 4S Ranch Little League in addition to his HS duties and equally shares his love for the game as a valuable member of Hawks Baseball. He was also the manager of the 2018 4SRLL All Stars 10U team.
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.