At the American Baseball Coaches Association Convention in Nashville, FCA honored Brent Lavoie of Long Beach (California) Poly High School with this year’s Jerry Kindall Character in Coaching Award.
FCA Baseball presents the Kindall Award each year at the convention to the college or high school baseball coach who best exemplifies the Christian principles of character, integrity, excellence, teamwork and service.
“Brent has been an integral part of the growth of the FCA Baseball here in Southern California,” said Ben Orr of FCA Baseball. “He partnered with us in hosting the first FCA Baseball Camp in 2008 when he was the head coach at Whittier High School. Our camp program has grown to impact over 1,200 kids this past year with eight different camps in the greater Los Angeles and Orange County areas, and Brent has served as either a lead coach, clinician or assistant director in over 25 camps over the past 10 years.
“He coached with our FCA Summer Collegiate Team in 2013,” Orr added, “and has also served on the Southern California FCA Baseball board. At FCA Camp, Brent is known to the kids as ‘Coach Mindstrong,’ and he is loved for his excitable personality, his speaking and his ‘camp raps.’ He has involved many of his high school athletes as junior coaches at our youth camps over the years and introduced them to Jesus through his coaching. Brent was also honored in 2014 with the Southern California FCA Baseball Coach of the Year at our Lives Changed Celebration Banquet. We are thrilled to again honor Brent with this year’s Jerry Kindall Character in Coaching Award.”
Lavoie said Christ and sports had a significant impact on his life while attending a Christian elementary school during a challenging childhood.
“FCA Baseball from a coaching standpoint has had a great deal of impact on me because it just makes me coach kids different—more big picture, more than just a win-loss record at the end of the season, more than chasing that title or that championship,” Lavoie said. “I realized the impact that I have on these kids’ lives right now, and it’s going to go on for a lifetime to come. And I want my guys to look back and say, ‘Hey, that was the guy that (was) sold out for baseball, sold out for the Lord, sold out for me, and impacted me to become a better man and taught me a lot of the game of life on the baseball field.’ … The impact of this ministry is unbelievable. The depth of it shows no limits. And I don’t have a lot of time to waste. So I’ve got a big vision and a dream impacting the city of Long Beach now with FCA Baseball.”
Lavoie, born in Riverside, California, was a 1999 graduate of Glendale High School in Springfield, Missouri, and helped lead the Falcons to a state championship game in 1998 as the starting third baseman, as well as set a school record for wins during the Summer Legion season with an overall record of 52-9. As a senior, he helped Glendale claim back-to-back district championships and a state quarterfinal berth. Lavoie earned both all-conference and all-district honors his senior year and was also the team’s gold glove recipient.
He went on to play at Missouri Valley College before heading to North Arkansas Junior College. Lavoie was team captain and earned first-team all-conference honors and golden glove awards his freshman and sophomore seasons for the North ARK Pioneers. Lavoie returned to Southern California to finish his degree and playing career at Biola University, graduating in 2004. At Biola, he was a two-year starter at second base and helped lead the Eagles to the 2003 NAIA College World Series.
Lavoie is in his 15th season as a high school head coach—spanning Long Beach Poly, Valley Christian, Whittier, La Mirada and Whittier Christian high schools. He has also been a head or assistant coach for five seasons with summer collegiate teams and served as head coach of the Gold Coast Miners and East LA Dodgers, as well as an assistant with the So Cal Catch.
The coach’s 2017 squad at Long Beach Poly reached the CIF playoffs in Lavoie’s first season, while the 2018 team won its first CIF playoff game since 2006, winning again two days later, then falling in the second round. The Jackrabbits saw even more success in 2019 by winning the Moore League Championship.
Lavoie, in his 14th year as a high school teacher, also works as a Resource Specialist Teacher at Poly. He and his wife, Kristen, a former USA Junior Olympic Softball player and Biola pitcher, reside in Fullerton with their black Australian Kelpie dog, Cali. View a video here of Lavoie’s involvement with the FCA Baseball ministry in Southern California and his outlook on coaching.
The award’s namesake, Jerry Kindall, passed away on Christmas Eve 2017. The legendary coach and baseball standout was well-known and respected among his peers and those he coached over the years. He was the first person in NCAA history to win a baseball national championship as both a player and a coach. In addition to his three titles at the University of Arizona as a coach, Kindall played shortstop for the 1956 National Champion University of Minnesota team.
Signed by the Chicago Cubs in 1956, Kindall went on to play eight seasons in the Major Leagues with the Cubs, Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins. Following his professional career, Kindall became the University of Arizona Wildcats skipper from 1973-1996. He was Arizona’s all-time leader in career wins, finishing his coaching career with a record of 860-580-6. Kindall was a member of both the University of Minnesota and University of Arizona Halls of Fame and was the recipient of the ABCA’s Prestigious Lefty Gomez Award in 1999, as well as a three-time national ABCA Coach of the Year.
Past Kindall Award winners include Jason Marshall (2019), Lynn Carlson (2018), Rich Maloney (2017), Dan McDonnell (2016), Brian Shoop (2015), Ray Hughes (2014), Rusty Stroupe (2013), Scott Berry (2012), Victor “Bubba” Cates (2011), Dave Altopp (2010), Carroll Land (2009), Elliot Johnson (2008), Mark Johnson (2007) and Jerry Kindall (2006). To learn more about the Kindall Award, visit FCA Baseball.