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By Steve Breazeale
San Clemente baseball head coach Dave Gellatly tried to downplay the moment after his team claimed a 6-0 Sea View League victory over San Juan Hills on the road on April 23. The win put the Tritons back into the league title hunt but it was also the veteran coach’s 300th career win at San Clemente High School.
His players would not let him brush the moment aside.
Gelattly signaled for his team to rally around him for a post-game meeting, but several players carrying a cooler full of ice water greeted him instead. He tried to outrun his players but they eventually dumped the water on him to celebrate the victory.
Gelattly graduated from San Clemente High School and has been the head baseball coach for 20 years. He now teaches in one of the classrooms that he used to learn in as a student. He has seen hundreds of players come and go, rolling with the wins and the losses. But to have this milestone come during this particular year allowed Gellatly to emotionally reflect on the past.
Earlier this year, the San Clemente athletics program suffered the loss of two former student-athletes. The first was Nick Pasquale, a standout football player who died on September 8 after being struck by a car on his way home. Pasquale’s older brother, A.J. Pasquale, played for Gellatly on the baseball team. One month later, Chris Spatz, a former three-year varsity letterman with the Tritons, committed suicide.
Gellatly saw the community, the athletic program and especially his baseball team, rally together during a tumultuous period.
“It’s all about family. I’m a little bit emotional. We’ve had a couple of tragedies in our athletic program. Nick Pasquale, his older brother A.J. played for me and I’ve been friends with the family for 30 years,” Gellatly said. “That’s what makes it special at San Clemente, we kind of don’t leave. It’s one town, one school. I hate to say, out of two tragedies, I think it’s really brought us all as a community and a school and a baseball program closer together.”
When asked what sticks out most during his two-decade long tenure at the school, Gellatly kept returning to the family aspect he has helped create. When searching for examples all it takes is a look at the Tritons bench, where pitching coach Brock Meastas sits. Meastas graduated from San Clemente High School in 2008 and returned to become part of Gellatly’s staff five years later.
Next year Gellatly will be joined at the school by his daughter, Jillian, as she begins her freshman year.
The Tritons are in the midst of a race for the Sea View League title and a berth in the CIF-SS Division 2 Championships. Their focus, and the focus of their coach, is on Friday’s rematch with the Stallions. But for a few brief moments following the milestone win, an impressive career was recognized and took center stage.