After graduating from Mater Dei in 1988, Jason Gill bounced around baseball as a player and coach before finding a home at Loyola Marymount University for 11 years.
Gill used his polished evaluation skills, seasoned game instincts and top-notch recruiting skills to build the Lions into a program that could hold its own against other local powers like UCLA, Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine.
After leading LMU to its first NCAA tournament appearance in 19 years last season, Gill was presented with an opportunity the 49-year-old Orange County native couldn’t pass up, the head coaching position at USC.
Gill was hired by the Trojans in mid-June, leaving LMU after an overall record of 322-286-1.
“I am looking forward to building on the traditions established by the great players and coaches from the most storied college baseball program in the country,” Gill said in a statement shortly after his hiring was announced. “USC’s commitment to winning championships while providing a top-tier education is unmatched.”
Gill inherits a roster that includes sophomore right-handed pitcher Chandler Champlain from Santa Margarita, sophomore shortstop Emilio Rosas from Mater Dei, junior left-handed pitcher John Beller of St. John Bosco and senior outfielder Brady Shockey of JSerra.
“I am extremely excited and can’t wait to get started,” Gill stated.
After graduating from Mater Dei, Gill was an infielder for two seasons at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, and then played his junior season at Cal State Dominguez Hills. He spent his final year of eligibility as the starting third baseman at Cal State Fullerton, helping the Titans reach the College World Series in 1994.
He served as an undergraduate assistant at Cal State Fullerton the following year, when the Titans won the national championship. He had brief assistant coaching stints at Nevada, LMU and UC Irvine before returning to Cal State Fullerton and reaching the College World Series again in 2006 and 2007.
LMU offered Gill his first head coaching position in 2008.
Another former standout athlete from a Trinity League school who’s taking on a much bigger coaching role this summer is Rick Garretson, a former star wide receiver for Servite in the early 1970s.
Garretson was hired as the head football coach at Chandler High School in Arizona, considered the top program in the state. The previous coach at the school had won four state championships in eight seasons.
In one of Garretson’s previous stops as a coach, he spent 16 years at Servite, serving as the offensive coordinator from 1995 to 2004.
Garretson told the East Valley Tribune shortly after he was hired that he plans to take on an attitude similar to Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay.
“We expect success, we don’t look at failure,” Garretson said. “We are going to be aggressive and expect to succeed.”
Garretson comes from a family of professional referees.
His father was Darrell Garretson, an NBA referee for 27 years, and his brother is Ron Garretson, another Servite graduate who has been an NBA referee since 1987.
“You have to have a burning desire to do that, and I never had it,” Garretson said. “It’s funny. My dad would always try to give me pointers and grade my performance on the field, but I knew he didn’t know anything about football.”