BASEBALL: Shortstop setting new heights for his family.
By Jorge Belon, Managing Editor
Isaac Dominguez wants to pave new roads for his family. Baseball is his tool to get the job done.
The sophomore shortstop is on the verge of transferring from Valley College to a four-year university with a major in special education.
“I love baseball and I want to play in the MLB. That has always been my number-one dream,” said the 20-year-old Pacoima native. “But I want to get my college degree first. I want to be the first person in my family to finish college and lead the way for my younger siblings and cousins to follow my footsteps and do better than me.”
Dominguez led the team with 121 assist and had a .950 fielding percentage. He finished second in the team with 39 hits. He was quick on his feet with nine stolen bases, which was the team’s third best. His numbers are not flashy, but the shortstop refuses to relay solely on his athletic ability. Dominguez instead embodies his favorite player Derek Jeter, as being the defensive general and making the smart play over the highlight reel. Valley Head Coach Dave Mallas believes the shortstop has just begun to hit his stride.
“Dominguez is solid on defense; his ability to react to plays because of how well he positions himself and his quickness,” said Mallas. “He has a very high IQ for the game which aids his athletic abilities. I firmly believe that on any given game between both teams he has the highest IQ on the field. He is just a complete game changer and because of that it is going to be very hard to replace him.”
The oldest of five siblings, Dominguez was forced to grow up fast with so many faces looking up to him. But it was his exposure to his mother’s work that shaped his perspective.
His mother, Paula Ledesma, was a teaching assistant for children with special needs. Without a babysitter, 9-year-old Dominguez sometimes tagged along . Trips such as these, in which he interacted with kids with conditions such as autism and Down syndrome, sped up his growing process and he realized how beautiful yet how harsh life could be.
“I remember I use to play with [the kids] all the time. I never saw the kids differently,” said Dominguez. “As I grew older, I started to realize that the kids didn’t have the same opportunities in life as I would. I wanted to help and change that. I knew that I wanted to be a teacher or a coach for the kids- anything to give them a reason to smile.”
Dominguez is already the first in his family to finish high school, graduating from San Fernando Senior High in 2012.
Dominguez got started in baseball playing traditional Sunday games with his family at 4. He played primarily center field throughout Little League. When he got to high school, however, he had to change his plan.
“I remember going to the [high school] tryouts and seeing four-to-six players trying out for center field and they were good and tall,” said the 5-foot-7 Dominguez. “Then I looked at the shortstop position, and I saw that there was only three, so I went for it. I wanted to make the team.”
The decision paid off as he made the junior varsity. Two weeks later his coaches promoted him to varsity as a starter. He went on to help the San Fernando Tigers win the City Section Division I championship his senior year by defeating Los Angeles Cathedral High School 3-2 at Dodger Stadium.
He realized baseball could help him earn his degree and Dominguez was accepted to play baseball at William Penn University in Iowa. However, he ended up returning before the semester began and looking for another school to pursue his dreams.
His former travel league coach pointed Dominguez in the direction of the Monarchs.
“I had never considered Valley before, but he told me that I had a good chance of growing there,” said the shortstop. “I came here in the fall of 2012 and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Under Coach [Dave] Mallas, I have become a student of not just the game but of life.”
Dominguez is eager to continue those studies, but isn’t sure where. He has been accepted to three schools already: George Washington University in Washington, D.C.; Academy of Art University in San Francisco; and Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, California. He’s waiting to see what other offers he receives before he chooses.
“Education is important to me,” said Dominguez. “Everyone in my family is urging me to finish school. I do not want to let any of my family members down after everything they have done for me. There is no way I can pay them back but by finishing school.”