Will C. Crawford Alumni Association & Foundation
In 2010 Jake Womack became Crawford High School's 13th head baseball coach and the third to have played for Crawford as well as coached the Colts.
Womack graduated from Crawford in 1999. He spent 1996 on the Colts' junior varsity and was on the varsity team in 1997, 1998, and 1999. He also played football for Crawford.
Womack's mother, Lynn, is a 1975 Crawford High School graduate. His father, Bob, played baseball for Chula Vista High School before graduating in 1971. Three Womack brothers - Jared, Jake, and Josh - played baseball for Crawford High School. Jared Womack graduated from Crawford in 1997 while Josh Womack, a 2002 graduate, made the 1999 varsity team as a freshman, so Jake Womack played one year at Crawford with his older brother and one year with his younger brother.
Jared and Jake Womack played together in 1997. "It was actually pretty fun," Jake Womack said. "That hadn't happened since early, early Little League." Jake and Josh Womack played together for the first time ever in 1999. "I'll take a player like him any day," Jake Womack said. Jake Womack was in eighth grade in 1995 when Jared Womack was on the Crawford High School team, which won the Harbor League with a 13-1 record and finished the season with a 22-7 overall marking. "Everybody came into Crawford expecting to win or to at least have a competitive team," Jack Womack said.
Crawford only returned one of their 1995 starters for the 1996 season - and none of their seven first-team or second-team Harbor League players - and the Colts were placed in the Western League for 1996. "Night and day," Womack said of the difference between the Western League and the Harbor League. Crawford finished the 1996 season with a 10-17 record, including a 5-7 Western League mark, which placed the Colts fifth in the seven-team standings. "That's what you get when you jump from Harbor to Western," Womack said. "You start playing the powerhouses." In both 1996 and 1999, Mission Bay won the league championship with 10-2 league records. The Buccaneers also finished 10-2 in 1997 to share the league title with University. "That was just an unstoppable team," Womack said of Mission Bay. (The 1998 Mission Bay team finished 6-6 in league play to finish fourth in the league and four games behind St. Augustine.) Crawford's junior varsity did not have a field in 1996, which created a memory for Womack about his freshman year. "First and foremost that walk over to Colina Park for practice," he said. "It was such a privilege to play on the varsity field."
Mike Norton was Crawford's junior varsity coach from 1993 through 1996, and when a new Crawford administration opted not to retain Ken Canche for the 1997 season Norton became the varsity head coach. Norton retained assistant coaches Manny Gagliano and Rick Ayala. The team did not stay intact during the 1997 season due to broken fingers, sprained ankles, and academic ineligibility. "We lost nine players for extended periods of time, "Norton said."Our poor JV coach was just beside himself with all the players he had to give up to us." Jeff Cordeiro replaced Norton as Crawford's JV coach. The varsity casualties included three-fourths of the infield. "By the time we got to the end of the year we started to get healthy," Norton said.
The loss of Alan Bilderback gave Womack, a second baseman, the starting second base job on the varsity for 1997. "That's pretty much the only position I played," Womack said of his sophomore year. Crawford entered league play with a 9-6 record but posted a 1-11 Western League record to finish the season with a 10-17 overall record.
Ryan Bailey led the CIF San Diego Section during the 1997 regular season with 100 strikeouts. "That guy had a great little tailing fastball," Womack said. "It would go inside on a right-handed hitter."
Bailey and catcher Mike Butterfield were both juniors in 1997 when they were the only Colts to earn all-league honors. "Butterfield had some great hand-eye coordination," Womack said.
Marvin Lopez was a senior in 1997. "The most untalented-looking fellow," Womack said. "But the guy could sure swing a bat."
Norton stepped down as Crawford's varsity baseball coach following his only season and was replaced by Bob Lovato, who coached the Colts from 1998 through 2000. "With Lovato, then I moved over to short and third and second and split time between all three," Womack said. Womack's offensive highlights in 1998 included a double and two runs batted in during Crawford's 4-3 win May 14 at Scripps Ranch. Crawford opened the 1999 Lions Tournament with a 12-4 win March 29 over Horizon at Crawford. Josh Womack was the starting and winning pitcher and had two hits in four at-bats. Jacob Womack had three hits in five at-bats.
On May 12, Crawford hosted University City. Womack hit a ball into the tennis courts for his first career home run. "I wasn't really a home run hitter," he said. His freshman brother hit six home runs that year. Jake Womack ended his senior year with 24 stolen bases for the season. The Colts finished the year with an 8-19 record, including a 1-11 Western League mark. Western League opponents with home run power included University's Carlos Quentin. "Carlos had a fantastic swing," Womack said. "He had the fastest home run I've ever seen in a high school ball game."
Mission Bay had a slugger named Ben Leuthard, who also pitched. "The guy had an unbelievable hose," Womack said of Leuthard's arm. "It was nice. You always got to see scouts," Womack said. "Taught me to play in a pressure situation."
Womack began his collegiate career playing for Southwestern College. He was the starting left fielder in his first year at Southwestern. "I developed a Chuck Knablach syndrome," Womack said. Womack was hitting well so he was moved in the field. Tendinitis in his arm at the end of the 2000 season forced him to take 2001 off from competitive baseball, but he played center field for Southwestern in 2002. "It helped 100 percent," he said of the move to center field. "I truly believe I developed a professional arm."
His throws were clocked at 93 mph, and he was offered a full scholarship to Olivet Nazarene University in Illinois. In 2003, Olivet Nazarene reached the NAIA World Series. "We had a fantastic season," Womack said. "We just dominated." The NAIA World Series is held in Lewiston, Idaho. Olivet Nazarene lost both of its games in the double-elimination tournament. "I hit a home run there," Womack said. "That's my claim to fame. That and a degree."Womack received an English degree from Olivet Nazarene. He returned to San Diego and worked for two years before entering National University for a Master's degree in education and a teaching credential.
Chad Salmon, who coached Crawford in 2006 and 2007, told his players that he would not be returning for the 2008 season. Womack originally planned to replace Salmon. "I thought Jake was going to be the coach and I thought that was great," said Curtis Burkhead Sr., who played for Crawford before graduating in 1977 and whose son was a junior on the Crawford team in 2007. "The Womack's are a classy family, and that would have been fine with me." Womack relished the opportunity to coach the Colts. "I had the position and everything. I was all pretty excited to coach Crawford," he said.
What Womack did not have during the Fall 2007 semester was a full-time teaching position, and as a substitute, he had no assurances of staying at Crawford. "I didn't want to commit to them because I wasn't guaranteed a job," he said. "I didn't want to do it to the kids." That left Crawford with a vacancy for 2008 after the academic year had begun. "They didn't have a coach," Burkhead said. "They didn't even have a schedule."The Colts had no pre-league schedule or Winter league games arranged. Burkhead filled the coaching void himself. "The Tuesday night before my son talked me into it," he said. "He was a little upset with me. He did not want to coach that year,"
Womack said. In 2008 and 2009, Womack served as Lovato's junior varsity coach at Madison. "I tried to talk him into it," Lovato said. "He's a great manager," Womack said of Lovato. "The kids respect him and they play well for him."
The decision not to take the position at the time did not dampen Womack's eventual desire to coach the Colts. "If I get a job at Crawford I will take over the team in a heartbeat. That is actually my idea job," he said while he was working at Madison. Womack obtained a teaching position at Crawford for the 2009-10 school year and committed to becoming the Colts' 2010 varsity coach, making him the first on-campus coach since Lovato.