Gillingham hopes to take the next step in his baseball career

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  • MISSION VALLEY Mariners player Izyk Gillingham poses during a recent Mission Valley Mariners practice. Gillingham, is one of many Mission Valley Mariners players, with collegiate prospects. Gillingham currently has one year of eligibility with the Mission Valley Mariners. (Photo by Marla Hall/Special to the Lake County Leader)

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    MISSION VALLEY Mariners Izyk Gillingham poses during batting practice with the rest of his Mission Valley Mariners teammates. Gillingham, is just one of the Mariners that have aspirations to play collegiate baseball, and currently has one more year of eligiblity to play American Legioon baseball. (Photo by Marla Hall/Special to the Leader)

  • MISSION VALLEY Mariners player Izyk Gillingham poses during a recent Mission Valley Mariners practice. Gillingham, is one of many Mission Valley Mariners players, with collegiate prospects. Gillingham currently has one year of eligibility with the Mission Valley Mariners. (Photo by Marla Hall/Special to the Lake County Leader)

  • 1

    MISSION VALLEY Mariners Izyk Gillingham poses during batting practice with the rest of his Mission Valley Mariners teammates. Gillingham, is just one of the Mariners that have aspirations to play collegiate baseball, and currently has one more year of eligiblity to play American Legioon baseball. (Photo by Marla Hall/Special to the Leader)

Former Mission Valley Mariners head coach and player Kalieb Gillingham watches his younger brother, current Mission Valley Mariners’ catcher Izyk Gillingham, from a perspective he’s not used to: as a fan.

Kalieb Gillingham, one of the more successful former Mariners in recent history and also former M’s head skipper who went onto play collegiate baseball for Gray’s Habor, an elite National Junior College Athletic Association baseball team out of the Northwest Athletic Conference, gets to watch his younger brother follow in his family footsteps.

In Gillingham’s recent evaluation of his younger brother, he said he witnessed tremendous growth.

“He’s been more vocal the last couple of years,” Kalieb said of his younger brother. “I see him in the stands telling him what players should be talking, and they are getting it. He’s stepped up his communication the last couple of years. Not too many balls get by him, and that is the thing that is tough for an offense to score on (him), or to score period because there aren’t too many balls that get by him.”

Izyk, the latest player of a Gillingham family tree whose name has become synonymous with baseball in the Mission Valley, Kalieb and his younger brother Nyqolas Gillingham play baseball and aspire to grow someday to be like them.

“I ran into (former Mariner’s coach) Jamie Hanson, and he kept talking me up to the next level,” Kalieb recalled. “I ended up playing college baseball, my younger brother Nyqolas played, and my sister all played softball. Izyk grew up watching us all play. He would run around after the games and slide into home plate, and pretend to be catching. People would bring him catcher’s gear, and he would watch (us older siblings) and copy everything we did.”

As Kalieb transitioned through his career in baseball as both player and a manager, Izyk continued to copy his older baseball siblings.

“He has progressed a lot in his time starting with the Mariners,” Kalieb said. “He has started to take on more of a leadership role, and I feel like people put a lot more trust in him. (Izyk) now tells everyone where the ball is going, and as a catcher, you have to have a pre-pitch plan. You have to try to read the different batters, and where they are standing, how they are standing and where they are at in the pitch count. There is a ton going on, and you have to control the whole pace of what is going on.

Padding to his resume

Izyk, one of the senior members of the Mission Valley Mariners team that started the season with a total of 20 players both on the A and B squads, has gotten to showcase his versatility as an athlete.

“This is the third year I’ve had him, and I coached him in my first year (with the Mariners) helping out with the B team watching him catch,” M’s skipper Tim Rausch said. “He is going into every game with the mindset that he is going to compete. He is a positive kid out on the field, and he is working on the development of his leadership skills and keeping this guy with a positive mindset never to give up. He likes to win, and has a good mentality about him.”

Izyk continues to expand on his existing skillsets, according to Rausch. As a member of the M’s, Rausch has primarily utilized him as a catcher.

“He’s a very versatile and good athlete, and this year I’ve utilized (Izyk’s) athletic ability more,” Rausch said. “I had him catch last year, but this year he’s done an outstanding job in the outfield of running baseballs down and catching them. He’s even done a little pitching.”

The repository of knowledge Izyk has accumulated over the years suggests he might have aspirations to be a manager once his baseball career concludes.

“He’s fundamental in terms of catching the ball and throwing the ball, and he has a solid baseball IQ, which is growing,” Rausch said. “He just knows in what situations to throw the ball all the way down to second or third, and he works on vocalizing what he is seeing on the ball field and giving directions. That is such an important role he’s carved for himself on the team right there.”

Taking the ‘next step’

Rausch said situational game-calling behind home plate has become one of Izyk’s strengths as a catcher and a developing leader, which are skillsets Izyk hopes to carry with him as he becomes the next player in the Gillingham family to advance to play at the college level.

“Right now, that is an aspiration to go play some college baseball somewhere in terms of being a coach because he’s played a lot of positions, and I think it is something he would be able to help out with within the near future,” Raush said. “That is one thing as a manager I emphasize is to give back to the game that has given so much to you whether it be umpiring, coaching or being an assistant. Do something that will help a program, and give back to a program that has given so much to you. That is why I helped so much.”

The current success of players like Trevor Paro, who transferred from the NJCAA level to playing at Marshall University to replace shortstop Elvis Peralta, Jr., a 26th-round selection with the 794th pick by the Oakland A’s, is just a recent example of a successful Montana player who got an opportunity to play major college baseball.

Gillingham, who opted solely to concentrate on baseball over the past five years, certainly has the dedication and desire to be the latest Gillingham to experience high-level baseball.

For the young Mariner, with still a year left of American Legion eligibility, his career continues to remain a work in progress.

Former Mission Valley Mariners head coach and player Kalieb Gillingham watches his younger brother, current Mission Valley Mariners’ catcher Izyk Gillingham from a perspective he’s not used to: as a fan.

Kalieb Gillingham, one of the more successful former Mariners in recent history, and also former M’s head skipper, who went onto play collegiate baseball for Gray’s Habor, an elite National Junior College Athletic Association baseball team out of the Northwest Athletic Conference, gets to watch his younger brother follow in his family footsteps.

In Gillingham’s recent evaluation of his younger brother, he said he witnessed tremendous growth.

“He’s been more vocal the last couple of years,” Kalieb said of his younger brother. “I see him in the stands telling him what players should be talking, and they are getting it, and he’s stepped up his communication the last couple of years. “Not too many balls get by him, and that is the thing that is tough for an offense to score on (him), or to score period because there aren’t too many balls that gets by him.”

Izyk, the latest player off a Gillingham family tree, whose name has become synonymous with baseball in the Mission Valley, and Kalieb, and his younger brother Nyqolas Gillingham, play baseball and aspire to grow someday to be like them.

“I ran into (former Mariner’s coach) Jamie Hanson, and he kept talking me up to the next level, and I (ended up) playing college baseball, and my younger brother Nyqolas played, and my sister played softball,” Kalieb recalled. “Izyk grew up watching us all play, and he would run around after the games and slide into home plate, and pretend to be catching, and would people would bring him catcher’s gear, and he would watch (us older siblings) and copy everything we did.”

As Kalieb transitioned through his career in baseball as both player, and a manager, Izyk continued to copy his older baseball siblings.

“He has progressed a lot in his time starting with the Mariners,” Kalieb said. “He has started to take on more of a leadership role, and I feel like people put a lot more trust in him. (Izyk) now tells everyone where the ball is going, and as a catcher, you have to have a pre-pitch plan. “You have to try to read the different batters, and where they are standing, and how they are standing, and where they are at in the pitch count, and there is a ton going on, and you have to control the whole pace of what is going on.”

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