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DIII COACH DENNIS BLAS AIMS TO HELP SOFTBALL GROW

Collegiate coach Dennis Blas with Chamorro bloodline aims to give back to softball on Guam.

(photo from La Verne Leopard athletics)

By Robert Balajadia

Dennis Blas got the opportunity of a lifetime last summer after being selected as the University of La Verne’s, a DIII program, head softball coach. Blas had been surrounded by the sport all his life, but it was his success at the JuCo level and cumulative experience of teaching the game for 30 years that made him the right man for the job at La Verne.

Son of Albert Blas of Barragada, Dennis has a strong connection to the island and proudly reps his CHamoru heritage. Blas is also the first cousin of current Barrigada Mayor June Blas and still keeps in touch with his family on the island.

Before his call up to coach La Verne, Blas was busy at work, turning around the softball program at HSIU. His accolades include back-to-back Golden State Athletic Conference Tournament Championships, one GSAC Regular Season Championship, a 2018 GSAC Coach of the Year honors, ranked as high as a No. 6 in the NAIA nationally, picked up a No. 1 seed to the 2018 NAIA Playoffs, and never missed the GSAC Tournament.

More on his coaching journey can be read on the La Verne Coaching Bio Page.

Goals to get involved

Blas has seen a fair share of softball athletes with Guam ties throughout his coaching, but stories of current players with ties to the island was big news to him, including softball star Madi Nickles.

“There are a lot of softball athletes that many don’t know are from Guam,” said Blas.

Blas wants to find a way to give back to Guam in the ways of softball which include promoting the sport and getting more softball stars recognized. The path of collegiate softball has been crossed from Guam to the mainland, most recently Academy pitchers Ashley Mendiola and Megan Maratita, but Blas hopes to help see it further.

“We need to find a way to bridge that gap. Maybe we’re not getting enough exposure, but we have to work on making that grow!,” said Blas.

Blas also hopes to find a way to bring more softball players who have Guam ties to the island to aide in the National Softball team, whether it be practice or playing, to improve the game.

“I’m very proud to be Chamorro and I want to do something to be able to give back to the island. I was always taught to give back and it’s something I really want to do, I just need to figure out how,” added Blas.

Softball has seen a revival over the past two years through the APL Women’s Fastpitch League as well as the men and women’s fastpitch league. Blas was excited to hear and hopes to further promote the sport.

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Sports legend Joe Taitano used to run to school at JFK from his Yigo home and back. He continued this routine up to 1979 when he’d run from home to GW gym and back to practice for the South Pacific Games with the national basketball team. Guam went on to win its second straight SPG gold medal.

 

 

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