Former CSUEB athlete, coach finds niche

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Former CSUEB athlete, coach finds niche

The number and letter plaques are lined up in the scoreboard room at O. co Coliseum in Oakland where Matt Lisle maintains a part-time job.

The number and letter plaques are lined up in the scoreboard room at O. co Coliseum in Oakland where Matt Lisle maintains a part-time job.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF MATT LISLE

The number and letter plaques are lined up in the scoreboard room at O. co Coliseum in Oakland where Matt Lisle maintains a part-time job.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF MATT LISLE

PHOTOS COURTESY OF MATT LISLE

The number and letter plaques are lined up in the scoreboard room at O. co Coliseum in Oakland where Matt Lisle maintains a part-time job.

Lauren Vestal,
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Growing up, many kids dream of becoming a professional athlete. A rare few actually achieve it. Getting injured is the one thing that can stop top players from achieving high levels of glory, causing most to then choose different career paths.

Matt Lisle, a baseball player from Concord, was no exception: after lettering in four varsity sports at Berean Christian High School in Walnut Creek, he was in line to play football at Fresno State, but instead chose baseball at California State University, East Bay.

As fate would have it, Lisle fell victim to injury: having hurt his shoulder playing high school sports, he then tore the rotator cuff in his right shoulder in the fall of his freshman year, forcing him to sit it out. It eventually ended his collegiate baseball career.

Baseball was and still is one of Lisle’s main joys in life, but an injury didn’t hold him back from being involved in the game he loved.

Pullquote Photo

I got to where I am today because when I started coaching, I fell in love with it. I also surrounded myself with coaches that were the best in the game and asked them to mentor me.”

— Matt Lisle, former CSUEB athlete and coach

Soon after the injury, he began coaching his younger brother’s little league team. When he turned 23, his high school coach asked him to assist on the varsity team and he accepted.

Halfway through the season, the head coach was fired, and they appointed Lisle head varsity baseball coach at Berean Christian.

Lisle began reading every coaching book he could get his hands on, watched coaching DVDs, and attended clinics. In the past 15 years, Lisle has coached at every level of baseball and softball, from little league to the collegiate level. He is a player scout for the Detroit Tigers and helps several Major League Baseball players with their swings.

“I got to where I am today because when I started coaching, I fell in love with it,” Lisle said. “I also surrounded myself with coaches that were the best in the game and asked them to mentor me.”

Lisle is also the out-of-town scoreboard keeper for the Oakland Athletics. In the summer of 2000, his best friend’s brother worked the scoreboard for the A’s, and got him a job there.

“I begged him everyday to ask his brother to also get me a job,” Lisle said. “After a month of begging, he finally did. It has to be one of the best part-time jobs in the world.”

He’s now in his 16th season, and was featured in a Sports Illustrated article. Having a family is also important to Lisle. He married his wife Jessica in June 2011 and has four kids: Alicia, Chappie, Chase and Presley.

Matt Lisle works with an athlete on her swing during a private hitting session. Lisle utilizes innovative techniques to help hitters perform better.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF MATT LISLE
Matt Lisle works with an athlete on her swing during a private hitting session. Lisle utilizes innovative techniques to help hitters perform better.

“Having a good life balance is essential in the coaching profession,” Lisle said.

Lisle’s mentor Craig Wallenbrock gave him a unique outlook on the game that includes distinct hitting techniques specific to the individual player and situation. Wallenbrock is a professional hitting instructor who has worked with MLB players and is the current consultant for the Houston Astros.

Only a handful of people over the last 20 years have had such close access to Wallenbrock’s knowledge as Lisle has. He took that knowledge and created a coaching style that works for him.

His advice to players is to have fun, and enjoy the game by sharing it with friends and family. The advice that he gives to most professionals is to ‘trust the process’ and learn how to deal with adversity the best way possible.

To Lisle, the perfect player isn’t always the most talented player on the field. The perfect player has some talent, but when you get to know them, the perfect player has high grades, and they give incredible attitude and effort while staying extremely tough.

Cassy Vela, a former softball player at CSUEB, was one of many players Lisle coached and during her last season hit .333 as a clutch pinch hitter. His coaching ability, and willingness to improve players is proven with each player he has coached in his life.

“He got to know his players, and came up with ways to help you as an individual on and off the field,” Vela said.

By keeping a video of swings, and doing multiple drills to help the players, he was always the go to coach to talk to, and was always willing to teach.