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Walling resigns as Cerritos High’s baseball coach, Rodriguez to take over improving program

Standing from left to right, Brooks Walling, Grant Walling, Pepe Serrano and Matt Villalba.

 

January 12, 2022

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

 

For the past seven full seasons plus the shortened 2020 Covid season that lasted just eight games, Brooks Walling turned around a Cerritos High baseball program that was floundering in the bottom half of the Suburban League. The Dons had gone through 15 straight losing seasons without a trip to the CIF-Southern Section playoffs upon his arrival with then co-head coach Scott Parsonage.

Now, Walling has turned over the reigns to Martin Rodriguez as he announced his resignation, effective Nov. 15. On that day, Walling sent co-athletic director Todd Denhart an email thanking him for the opportunities. Walling bought a house in the Lake Elsinore/Menifee area and cited the ‘drive was something else’ as one of the reasons he resigned. Besides the long commute, he also said seeing his five-year old son, Gunner, play tee-ball weighed on him as well as his three-year old daughter, Georgia, who is old enough to run around.

“Honestly, I think I took Cerritos as far as I could take them,” Walling said. “It’s time to give somebody [else] an opportunity to see if they can do something better.”

“In 2019, we won the Newport Elks Tournament and the St. Paul Tournament,” he continued. “We won the league and we won everything, but we couldn’t make that playoff push. I think being in a lower-end league did not help the situation. It’s hard to ramp up for the playoffs.”

While at Cerritos, Walling compiled an 119-83 record and four trips to the playoffs, all coming within the past six seasons, but could not get past the first round of the playoffs. The Dons also won all 18 605 League games since the inception of the league. Since the program’s last trip to the playoffs in 1998, Cerritos had gone 108-258-3 under four head coaches.

Walling added that he held on long enough for Rodriguez to get a fair shake in getting the job and was hoping that waiting until November to resign was going to ensure Rodriguez was going to be the school’s seventh head coach since 1999. During that time, no other head coach was at Cerritos for more than six years.

“He’s been great to me as well,” Walling said of Rodriguez. “He’s been my right-hand man. He handled a lot of the paperwork for me, fundraisers and he coached first base for me. I wish him the best.”

Walling and Parsonage were co-head coaches for five seasons and the only time Walling had a losing mark came in the 2014 season when the Dons finished 9-18 overall and won two of 12 Suburban League contests. After that, the win total for Cerritos went from 16 in 2015 to 18 two years later to 21 in 2019.

“When Scott and I took over, we rattled some cages,” Walling said. “We definitely changed the culture of Cerritos. If you weren’t there to win, we don’t want you there. I think in the past, it was, ‘Cerritos is going to get beat’. When Scott and I took over until now, I would say we had the most wins in the area. We kept our thumb on them and we won games. We sent a lot of guys to [colleges] too.”

Walling added that his only regret was not seeing how the 2020 year would have played out with seven seniors as part of the starting lineup and said that Cerritos is now well-respected.

“I can’t thank [athletic director] Todd Denhart enough,” Walling said. “He was great to me. I got to coach with a good friend of mine, Scott Parsonage, for a while. That was awesome. Obviously, my dad [Grant] was on the staff with us for six of the years I was there. Eric O’Neill, a great man, helped get the ball rolling. I also want to thank [Cerritos history teacher] Megan Harding, who has been a huge supporter.

“At the end of the day, Cerritos has been great to me,” Walling later said. “I spent eight years there. It’s a place where academics are first, obviously. We did manage to get a lot of kids into that school and help build a solid program.”

 

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