The Alta Hawks charged into baseball season this year with a new leader who is a familiar face on the field.
Daron Connelly, who had overseen Corner Canyon High baseball since the school’s opening in 2013, has taken his formidable talents and experience to the Chargers’ fierce intra-district opponents. Coach Connelly assumed the head coach duties at the outset of the season.
For his part, Connelly shrugs off questions about his allegiances in the thriving rivalry between Alta and Corner Canyon. While he dons black and silver jerseys these days, Connelly speaks highly of the boys of summer in blue and silver.
While the games are fiercely contested, there’s a kinship among the players on both sides, he said. Players at both schools began their baseball careers on the same Little League diamonds, he says. They often hang out on weekend, Snap each other on social media — and sometimes square off at the plate.
Good-natured and competitive rivalries, he says, serve to make both teams better.
Connelly, who has earned a Masters of Business Administration and a Master’s of Arts in Teaching and Learning, brings a wealth of experience to the Alta ball club.
The former player in the San Francisco Giants organization also has been a coach at high schools, junior highs and special schools in Arizona. His teams embrace a work-hard, play-hard, no-nonsense, grind-it-out, get-after-it style of play. He builds players from the inside out.
“We will work together as a team,” the coach says. “If we do things right, the positive results will come,”
At CCHS, the school’s inaugural team, with 26 freshmen or sophomores, finished 5-20. By the third year, the team advanced to the state playoffs and fought to the third-place spot at the state tournament. Last year, the Chargers landed in fifth-place in the Utah High School Activities Association’s tourney.
Connelly has his sights set on replicating that level of success at Alta.
He also expects his cast of Hawks to excel academically, and he emphasizes good citizenship in the hallways, too.
“The baseball field is an extension of the classroom,” he says. “If the (players) are going to be high-profile (as student athletes), then we have to do it right.”
“We will talk about the process. We’ll do everything with our heads held high,” Connelly said. “I want us to be talked about as the team that will require you to bring your A-game; the team to beat.”