Wednesday Feb 25 2009
Cordell excels on court, diamond
By: Andrew Eggers, Special to The Press-Tribune
VCA junior looks to future in baseball
Heading into tonight’s first-round CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoff game against New Life Christian in Marysville, Valley Christian Academy’s Ryan Cordell is leading the Lions in scoring at 19 per game. With all of his success on the hardwood, his real love is baseball and it has gotten him attention from Notre Dame, which he has visited unofficially. “My first choice would be to go to Notre Dame,” Cordell said in a phone interview on Feb. 24. “My dad has always been a fan so I grew up watching (the football team) every Saturday.” The junior shooting guard, who doubles as a pitcher and shortstop on the school’s baseball team, stepped up big for the Lions during the first three weeks of the basketball season when senior point guard Chris Parker went down with a fractured cheek bone. “He had a 40-point game and a couple of 30-point games,” Lions’ head coach Brad Gunter, Jr. said. “Those were much needed." On the mound last season as a sophomore, Cordell was 8-0 with a 2.92 earned run average and batted .456 with three home runs at the plate. Gunter spoke highly of Cordell’s character and maturation process as an athlete and person since arriving at Valley Christian as a freshman after being home-schooled from kindergarten through junior high. “He’s a great young man with a great family,” Gunter, who is also the school’s baseball coach, said. “He’s a kid I trust, who‘ve I talked to quite a bit. He and I send text messages back and forth after the game about how to improve his game.” Cordell’s Christian background ultimately steered him in the direction of Valley Christian when it came time for him to attend high school. He and his family made the decision based on a couple of different factors. “Valley Christian offered the opportunity to take some home school classes and classes (on campus) and play sports through them,” Cordell said. “(Me and my family) heard good things about Coach Gunter. He was a main reason in making the decision (to attend the school).” “(Gunter) focuses on the athletics but most of all he’s about the Christian character so that was a big thing in coming to the school,” Cordell said. As far as athletics are concerned, it is really all about the spirit of competition for Cordell who said that accolades and accomplishments motivate him to succeed even more. He plans on playing his way into a college scholarship for baseball to eventually get drafted, but first he is going to lead his Lions into their first playoff basketball game in three years. “He’s matured beyond his years,” Gunter said. “In baseball, how he handles an error behind him when he’s on the mound. Him wanting he ball in his hands in a big game, or taking that last-second shot, that’s been the thing that’s nice to watch and honestly, it’s come a little quicker than expected.” Editor’s note: Cordell was voted the February athlete of the month by Press-Tribune readers.