| June 20, 2022
By CCL Reporter, Nicola Iannelli --
Santa Barbara, Calif. is not only home to picturesque white sand beaches, palm trees, and Mediterranean-style stucco buildings that reflect the city’s Spanish colonial heritage, but also to CCL perennial power—the Santa Barbara Foresters.
The Foresters are led by manager Bill Pintard and hold the most titles in the California Collegiate League with 11 under their belt since the league's founding in 1993. Pintard has been the tenacious leader of this team since 1995 and has developed the Foresters into the organization they are today. Santa Barbara has chalked up over 1,000 victories including nine National Baseball Congress World Series Championships in 2021, 2020, 2018, 2016, 2014, 2012, 2011, 2008, and 2006.
But it was not always that glamorous starting out.
For Pintard, it all started in 1994. When he took over the Foresters with his then assistant Pat Burns, he had the goal to become the leader of a nationally recognized team. To accomplish this, Pintard knew they had to recruit the best players, so they took to the road. Pintard and Burns traveled from San Diego to Sacramento, spending up to 15 days non-stop on the road. The duo talked to coaches at USC, San Diego State, UC San Diego, Palomar Junior College, UCLA, and many more up and down the coast.
Pintard recalls traveling to UC Berkeley where his son was a student. “We slept on his couch for four days because there were a bunch of junior colleges and Stanford University up there,” said Pintard.
Both Pintard and Burns spent countless hours watching practices and inter-squad games scouting for their summer league team. Those long days of travel and patience paid off because Pintard made lifelong connections with many coaches and players. This period also served as the building blocks for what the Foresters are today.
Coaches took note of Pintard's dedication and persistence. In 1995, one particular coach from Sacramento said, “You're going to get my best players because anybody that’s going to work that hard and be that dedicated deserves to train my players.”
For 27 years Pintard has instilled into his teams hard work and perseverance.
No challenge is too big for Pintard and his club. Even with the setback of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the Foresters fought through challenge after challenge. Though collaboration with the CCL, the Foresters put together a COVID-19 protocol that kept players, coaches, and staff members safe during the 2020 summer season. Remarkably, the Foresters had zero positive cases when the disease was at its peak and spreading rampant.
During that time, Pintard and the Foresters were able to accomplish an improbable feat. Santa Barbara was the only team in the league that played a full season of games that included non-league teams and a non-league schedule. Pintard reflected, “[That] was a tremendous achievement because there weren’t many teams playing that year, and we were able to play teams from all over the country, like Texas, and even won the [NBC] national championship that year in 2020.”
The success during the pandemic season carried over into the following year. The CCL resumed competition in 2021, and fans were able to come back and watch collegiate summer games again which made a tremendous difference. Pintard shared that playing without fans in 2020 felt abnormal and different. “There was no interaction before or after the games which was hard to adjust to because when the fans rally with the team, it gets everyone to be a part of the game and creates excitement in the air,” said Pintard.
In 2021, the Foresters won the CCL Southern Division championship highlighted by a 21-game winning streak toward season's end, despite an initially slow start. Santa Barbara then headed to Wichita, Kan., at the conclusion of the CCL's regular season for the National Baseball Congress (NBC) World Series. The trip resulted in back-to-back championships just like in 2011 and 2012. According to Pintard, the Foresters became the first team to win multiple back-to-back titles in the history of that tournament. “That was another one of the major highlights of the 2021 season,” said Pintard.
Another bright spot for the Foresters was the Hugs for Cubs, a program that supports children fighting childhood cancers, was back up and running again. Like in year's past, Pintard arranged for a trip to Angel Stadium. Kids battling cancer were able to take their mind off of their day-in and day-out challenges and enjoy a Major League Baseball game in Orange County.
The 2021 summer season produced many highlights both on and off the field for the Foresters. They're striving for 2022 to look the same.
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