For just the eighth time in the history of Cerritos College baseball, there will be a new name listed as the head coach. After spending five years as a Falcons assistant coach, Hector Zamora has been appointed the team's head coach after the retirement of Ken Gaylord, who spent 25 years at the helm. Of the other seven previous head coaches, three of them held the title for one season, and all were during the career of Gaylord. In his first year with the program (1991), Gaylord was the assistant coach after some paperwork wasn't completed on time, while an assistant held the title in both 2003 and 2010 when Gaylord took a sabbatical.
"First, I would like to thank Cerritos College and its community for bestowing this honor upon me," said Zamora. "I want to thank all staff members who were supportive and who acted as mentors in helping me grow as a teacher and a baseball coach. I want to thank my family for understanding and being appreciative of the commitment and sacrifice it takes to be a coach. Most of all, I want to thank Coach Gaylord for providing me an opportunity to coach under his tutelage and mentorship."
Zamora played for the Falcons under Gaylord from 2000-01 before earning a scholarship to San Jose State University. He was an All-South Coast Conference selection as a freshman after the team won the conference title. They were one win away from advancing to the state championships that year, with Zamora batting .361 with five home runs, 16 doubles, 37 RBI and scored 42 runs. He still holds the school record for most runs scored in a game (6).
"Being a baseball player at Cerritos College was one of the best times of my life. I have countless numbers of great memories as a player and a student," said Zamora (pictured, left congratulating Ramon Bramasco after hitting a home run against Long Beach City). "My first experience was special. It was my first visit to Kincaid Field, and when I first saw the beautiful field, I wanted to play on it. My first game was in the fall. I was on the bench; granted I had been a player out of high school who was offered a scholarship by UCLA and LMU. When the other third basemen made an error, I was told to play the following inning. My first opportunity, I made an error and fairly so, I came out of the game. When the other third basemen made an error, it was my opportunity to demonstrate I can be reliable. Coach Gaylord taught me that we cannot assume or take the game and opportunities for granted. The only way to remain atop is by working at your craft on a daily basis. The rest of the year I started every game but I assure you I looked at the line-up card every game to check if I was in the starting line-up. Coach Gaylord taught me how to play the game the right/Bird way. Most of all he was honest and fair."
Upon receiving his scholarship to San Jose State University, Zamora was named 1st Team All-Western State Athletic Conference as a 3B/DH and was drafted in the 21st Round by the New York Yankees in the Major League Draft. In his 3 1/2 years in the organization, Zamora was voted a Fan Favorite twice and the team's Most Valuable Player once. His playing career continued internationally, as he played in both Mexico and Colombia before capping his playing career off by spending time in the Golden Baseball League.
Zamora then started on his coaching career by joining the staff of the newly formed West Los Angeles College baseball team in 2008. He spent five seasons there before receiving a call from Gaylord.
"When I was brought on to be a coach at Cerritos College, it was to work with the hitters and catchers," stated Zamora. "Over the course of the five years, I have also coached the infielders, outfielders and pitchers. We once had just two coaches, it was myself and Coach Gaylord. It was a lot of work but we had a good season and went to the playoffs. Under the mentorship of Coach Gaylord, he has prepared me for all aspects of the game. Coach Gaylord is one of the best baseball coaches in the industry. Whether you are a player or a coach, you listen because a lot of experience and wisdom can be learned when he speaks."
"Coach Gaylord was and is a great mentor to me," added Zamora. "He helped me attain a scholarship to San Jose State and I was fortunate to get drafted. In the Yankee system, a coach approached me and asked if I was a Bird. I thought, 'how did he know about Cerritos'? Of course, at the time I was a little naïve and did not understand the magnitude of Cerritos College baseball. Everywhere I traveled, they knew Coach Gaylord. After professional baseball, I was given another opportunity by Coach Gaylord to be his assistant coach and it also opened doors to be a Physical Education Instructor because I had my Masters Degree. After five years coaching with Coach Gaylord, I was offered the head coach position for Cerritos College. I can say Coach Gaylord has not only impacted my career but my life! Therefore, a good coach can have a significant impact on your career and future. Coach Gaylord has helped many individuals and we are all very thankful."
Zamora helped the Falcons capture the South Coast Conference South Division in 2018 and earn the #1-seed for the Southern California Regional Playoffs. After sweeping Los Angeles Pierce College in the first round, they were eliminated by rival El Camino College and concluded the season with a 31-13 record.
Now the lead man of the program, Zamora plans to continue the lead the program into the future and focus on the matriculation of his players as much as their number of wins on the field.
"Academics are the most important part to being in college. Having good grades and attaining your degree is vital," stated Zamora. "If you are a good baseball player and have poor grades, universities admissions offices cannot accept you. I will have a high expectation in regards to having a good grade point average and attaining an A.A. degree. In regards to baseball, I will incorporate the way Coach Gaylord simplified the game for individuals to learn. That is how he produced so many good players. With proper coaching and guidance, he let them use their natural instincts and learn on their own. It is essential that players get as much experience and repetitions as possible. Coach Gaylord got the most out of his coaches and players which attributed to winning games. In addition, he taught individuals how to attain good character, especially during challenging times. Coach preached that it's not about how you act when things are good, but how you respond when confronted with the unexpected."
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