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Friday, August 7, 2020

Across the Pickets line

It’s all in the family.

For father and son baseball duo Bill and Will Picketts, the game runs bone deep and, as the Brahmas challenged for the Western State Conference – South title, it’s a winning combination.

Bill Picketts, head coach of the baseball team, started playing the sport at 7 and has been “either playing or coaching ever since.” Bill Picketts attended John F. Kennedy High School in Granada Hills before moving on to play at College of the Canyons (COC).

While at COC, Bill Picketts earned a scholarship to Long Beach State. At Long Beach, he participated in the College World Series, and would later be inducted into the Long Beach State Athletic Hall of Fame in 2014.

All Bill Picketts ever wanted to be was a ball player, according to his father William Picketts.

“He put up with academics because that’s the only way to be a player. You have to maintain your grades,” William Picketts said. “Later in life, he realized that having a degree is important.”

In fact, he went back to school after playing pro-ball and earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology from Cal. State Northridge.

After playing at Long Beach, Bill Picketts was a member of the Oakland Athletics organization for three years before discovering coaching, which he has been happily pursuing for fifteen years.

“The best part about coaching are the relationships with the kids: building that connection and watching them grow and become adults and viable members of society,” Bill Picketts joked. “I’ve been to my players’ weddings and one of them recently had a baby. I love watching them grow. I know it’s a cliche, but I consider all of my players to be my kids.”

Which brings us to Will Picketts, Bill’s son and protégé.

Will Picketts has also been playing baseball since 7, and has been coached on-and-off by his father since 10, joining a team that also included three other baseball players now playing for the Brahmas. However, he has developed skills in other sports such as basketball, winning league championships in both baseball and basketball as a junior at Bishop Alemany High School.

Will Picketts now plays on the Pierce team, spending this past year playing for his father for the first time in years. All three generations of Picketts men agree this is mutually beneficial.

“Will has really elevated his skills this year because this is his first time playing extensively underneath his dad,” William Picketts said. “I think that the fact that his dad pushes him has made him an even better player.”

The way things are working out this year for the Brahmas, it seems they have two Coach Picketts.

“I think him being my coach is an advantage for both of us because if the message he’s sending isn’t relaying to the guys, I’ll make sure we’re all on the same page,” Will Picketts said. “I spend so much time with him, I know what he’s thinking and I think that’s an advantage for both me and the team.”

Nevertheless, Bill Picketts had his concerns when he first discovered his son would be playing at Pierce.

“When I first started coaching Will, there were definitely some outside people saying, ‘Well, he’s only playing because he’s the coach’s son.’ That was always in the back of my mind,” Bill Picketts said. “But Will worked very hard to prove to me and everyone else that he deserved to play and was dedicated to it.”

However, these accusations were soon cleared up, and the Picketts family has been able to concentrate on what’s most important to them: family.

“My dad is my greatest role model,” Will Picketts said. “I’ve always looked up to him as my coach and my dad. He’s a really good guy. He spends a lot of time with the family; he’s not just baseball oriented. He’s very family oriented, which is important to me.”

Bill Picketts did a little research before the season.

“Before I started coaching Will, I talked to a lot of other coaches who had coached their kids and they all said that it was the greatest experience that they had with them,” Bill Picketts said. “And so far, that has rung true.”

Sitting in the bleachers at the final game of the season, the Picketts’ dedication to family outshone their disappointing loss as the fence was lined with family members.

“The only thing more important to the both of them is family,” William Picketts said.

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