From surf to turf, City College outfielder swings for success

City+College+outfielder+Connor+McManigal%2C+19%2C+takes+a+look+at+the+surf+after+baseball+practice+on+Tuesday%2C+April+15%2C+at+Leadbetter+Beach+in+Santa+Barbara.+McManigal+has+served+as+a+Santa+Barbara+lifeguard+in+the+past+summers+and+leads+the+Vaqueros+with+a+.326+batting+average+this+season.
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From surf to turf, City College outfielder swings for success

City College outfielder Connor McManigal, 19, takes a look at the surf after baseball practice on Tuesday, April 15, at Leadbetter Beach in Santa Barbara. McManigal has served as a Santa Barbara lifeguard in the past summers and leads the Vaqueros with a .326 batting average this season.

City College outfielder Connor McManigal, 19, takes a look at the surf after baseball practice on Tuesday, April 15, at Leadbetter Beach in Santa Barbara. McManigal has served as a Santa Barbara lifeguard in the past summers and leads the Vaqueros with a .326 batting average this season.

Nora Abou-Dabous

City College outfielder Connor McManigal, 19, takes a look at the surf after baseball practice on Tuesday, April 15, at Leadbetter Beach in Santa Barbara. McManigal has served as a Santa Barbara lifeguard in the past summers and leads the Vaqueros with a .326 batting average this season.

Nora Abou-Dabous

Nora Abou-Dabous

City College outfielder Connor McManigal, 19, takes a look at the surf after baseball practice on Tuesday, April 15, at Leadbetter Beach in Santa Barbara. McManigal has served as a Santa Barbara lifeguard in the past summers and leads the Vaqueros with a .326 batting average this season.

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Rule # 76: No Excuses.  Play like a champion.

Most people would recognize this from the classic comedy, “Wedding Crashers,” but for City College outfielder Connor McManigal this funny movie line means much more.

On the back wall of the Vaqueros’ dugout you will see in big, block letters “RULE # 76” above the bench. This philosophy has been engrained by head coach Jeff Walker into all that put on a Santa Barbara City College uniform to make this slogan “reflect on the way we play.”

McManigal, a 19-year-old freshman and Santa Barbara native, has used his passion for life and no excuse work ethic to lead the Vaqueros offense this season as the team battles for a playoff spot in the talent-rich Western State Conference North.

“He personified the ‘All-American’ work ethic,” said Fred Warrecker, McManigal’s former baseball coach at Santa Barbara High School.  “He would come in from water polo and go straight to baseball.”

Growing up the second youngest of five brothers, McManigal was always being pushed (literally and figuratively) by his older brothers as they competed against one another in different activities.

He has used his family’s competitive nature to play many sports at a high level.  At Santa Barbara High he was a three-year varsity letterman for the water polo team.  He was named captain his senior year and led the Dons to a runner-up finish in the California Interscholastic Federation Championship.

“I definitely contribute a lot of my success to just having a ton of brothers,” McManigal said.  “It definitely pushed me to be a better athlete.”

He spent two years on the varsity baseball team at Santa Barbara High under Warrecker where he was named captain his senior year.  His ability to learn and grow transitioned off the baseball field, as well.

He was ranked eighth in his class of more than 600 students and applied to schools such as Harvard, Princeton and Dartmouth.  Although he wasn’t accepted to any of these Ivy League schools he believes now it might have been for the best.

“At the time I was shocked and a little bitter but I definitely love where I am right now,” he said.  “Plus, you can’t really be an athlete and an engineer.”

McManigal has been a mainstay in the Vaqueros’ outfield in what otherwise has been a revolving lineup throughout the year for coach Walker.  He primarily bats in the third spot and any opposing pitcher will find that his smooth, left-handed stroke is a force to be reckoned with.

He leads the team in hits, runs, walks, and batting average and is in the top five of every main offensive category.

McManigal scored the winning run in the tenth inning against league leader Oxnard on April 9 at Pershing Park on a sacrifice fly by Jimmy Hill.  The Vaqueros entered the bottom of the ninth inning down a seemingly insurmountable seven runs but were able to force extra innings and eventually win.

Off the field, McManigal tries to stay as active as his busy schedule permits.  Spearfishing, surfing and hiking are just a few hobbies he does his in spare time.  In previous summers he served as a lifeguard in Santa Barbara.  And with a tan like his, it makes sense he is outdoors a lot.

“I feel like so many people get caught up in work and school that they don’t really experience much else,” McManigal said.  “People kind of sit back waiting for life to happen instead of going out and getting it.”

Recently, Nick Johnson, a longtime friend and fellow water polo player at Santa Barbara High passed away. McManigal reflected on the passion for life his friend had and how he wants to use that as a motivator in his life today.

“This was a kid who just pushed himself to the limit and that’s how he passed away,” McManigal said.  “He had this message and that’s exactly how he did live his life.  He was a go-getter.”

Mental toughness is another one of Walker’s mottos he wants his players to live by.  McManigal says that is something that he has had to adapt to: being patient and not reactionary.  Although he was the leadoff hitter in high school, McManigal admitted to swinging at more first pitches than not.

“One of the biggest struggles this year was to be more patient,” McManigal said.

“Filling up the cookie jar,” or making the opposing pitcher throw more pitches, is what coach Walker wants his young team to focus on when digging into the batter’s box.

“He has ‘it’ in reference to what it takes to get to the next level,” Walker said.

“It” might get him to the next level, but in many aspects Connor McManigal has already arrived.

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