Marine coach hopes ‘firsthand’ scouting leads to better team
Stars and Stripes August 15, 2009
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Back in his days as a gunnery sergeant in the late 1990s, Dan Daniels used to play on the very same field.
This week, as the All-Marine men’s softball coach, Daniels returned to Gunners Fitness Complex Softball Field 1. There, he mined the Far East Regional Softball Tournament for talent he hopes can help the Marine Corps end a nine-year All-Armed Forces Tournament tailspin.
It’s “essential,” Daniels said, to have an All-Marine coach or assistant at one of three regional tournaments used to determine the 20 or so players invited to All-Marine tryout camp this month.
“Firsthand experience, being there and looking at them yourself,” said Daniels, 47, who spent two tours on Okinawa, 1987-88 and 1996-99.
Daniels spent the week evaluating — along with the Marine Corps Community Services Okinawa Semper Fit staff — the more than 90 players in the tournament, seeking the best six available to go to All-Marine camp at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C.
Camp runs from Aug. 28 to Sept. 18, after which the 15-player All-Marine team travels to Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., hoping to win its first All-Armed Forces Tournament title since 2000.
Toward that end, Daniels said he was seeking a “balance of veterans and rookies. Your program never grows if you don’t bring in new players. You have to incorporate new talent and have veterans to mentor them.”
Whether vets or newbies, Daniels said he seeks “team players” — those who fit in well and enhance team chemistry, as well as ability.
The mark of a present and future All-Marine star is the response to direction, Daniels said. “You give them pointers on how to improve their game, and if they can take constructive criticism and use what I tell them, I know they’re going to be a good ballplayer,” he said.
Father-son combination takes field for Marine Corps Base
While growing up some years ago on Okinawa, Michael Montoya Jr. used to watch his father play in Far East regional tournaments.
This week, the two found themselves on the host Marine Corps Base Camp S.D. Butler team — believed to be the first father-son tandem to suit up in the tournament.
“It’s a privilege and wonderful to have my son on the same team,” Michael Montoya, 43, the man the players call “Senior.” The first sergeant from San Miguel, N.M., is assigned to Company B, Headquarters & Services Battalion, on his fourth Okinawa tour.
His 24-year-old son, “Junior” as he’s called, works for Company A, H&S Battalion. Neither envisioned playing for the same team, much less being assigned to the same unit.
“Growing up, I’d see these tournaments. Being out here with my dad is a great father-son moment. It’s a great experience,” Junior said.