Monsignor Scanlan (N.Y.) baseball coach Keith Del Valle isn't one for practical jokes. It's just that opposing coaches and umpires often think he is playing one whenever he walks to home plate for pregame meetings.
"I always get that funny look from the umpire, looking at me as if I have five heads," Del Valle told the New York Daily News. "I always get the question of how old I am. I'm constantly getting carded by umpires, as I like to call it. They're checking my age."
At 23, Del Valle is already one of the youngest varsity baseball coaches in the country. Yet, as the Daily News photo above portrays all too well -- the coach is the guy with the glasses, not the one grimacing on the side of the shot -- Del Valle looks even younger than that. In fact, he looks so young, that his players even needed convincing that he was the guy calling the shots at their first practices of the season.
"When I first saw him I thought he was a player," Scanlan catcher Albert Fernandez told the Daily News. "I thought he was a transfer student."
That confusion is understandable. As profiled artfully by the Daily News' Mitch Abramson, Del Valle -- who is still finishing his bachelor's degree in business at Mount St. Vincent College -- stands just 5-foot-10 and 157 pounds. His voice is typical for a teenager, and is known for erupting from the bench when his team does anything notable, whether good or bad.
For his part, the coach who still lives at his boyhood home knows that some will doubt his credibility because of his appearance. Quite frankly, he could not care less. Insisting that the air of experience he lacks in appearance is made up for by his professionalism, Del Valle plans to make his name known by leading Scanlan to another Catholic High School Athletic Association Class B title.
With the help of his two assistant coaches -- Del Valle's father Richard is the Scanlan pitching coach and friend Marco Rodriguez is the team's other assistant -- the youngest in the clan of coaching Del Valles is confident he can achieve that goal, just as his older brother Kevin did in 2010 before leaving to take the head coaching position at the family's alma mater, Salesian (N.Y.) High.
"I think he wants to get another city championship for our dad," Kevin Del Valle told the Daily News. "I think that would be a first: for a dad to have two sons win back-to-back city championships. I know that's Keith's goal."
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