BELLE GLADE — Although there is a chance that baseball can continue in May, Glades Central Raiders coach Rene Leon Jr. still wants to make sure his seniors are recognized before the year is over.
The Raiders varsity baseball team has five seniors on the squad this year — Oday Shatara, Cristian Rodriguez, Miguel Marquez, Anthony Brockman and Eduardo Rivera.
Of those five players, Oday has been with the Raiders for the longest, spending four years in the program.
“I can’t categorize any memories and decide what has been the best,” said Shatara. “Every single moment I’ve spent with the team was enjoyed immensely, and the impact coach Leon made on me will follow me forever. My four years of high school baseball will definitely be a part of the best times of my life. I’ll cherish every single moment…”
“My advice to underclassmen is to be patient and always trust coach Leon’s process,” continued Shatara. “He knows what’s best for you. Even if you don’t agree, you must accept his guidance because he’s been there at every level and has knowledge in regards to what is the best fit for you in the future.”
After high school, Oday plans to attend the University of Central Florida and obtain a degree in business management.
Coach Leon describes Oday as one of the smartest players he has had the opportunity to coach.
“Oday was my go-to guy for four years on the mound against all the elite teams,” said Leon, “the only player I’ve ever coached to have multiple 12-strikeout games against powerhouse teams in the district. His fastball when healthy was in the mid 80s (mph) with a nasty curve ball and change-up. He’s faced the best players in Palm Beach County during his career and never backed down. I was always tougher on Oday than any other player I’ve coached because he listened and made up for his mistakes. He helped turn this baseball program around in so many ways, and I will forever be thankful. I’m getting emotional right now talking about him, but I know that he will continue to be great in life.”
Cristian Rodriguez was with the Raiders for two years and says that his best memory with the team was the last game the Raiders played right before the season was postponed. Glades Central faced a tough opponent in John Leonard High School and the way the team worked together and didn’t quit the entire game.
“Cristian has one of the strongest arms in my program,” Leon said. “His speed and athleticism made up for his size. I’ve never met a player as humbled as him. Cristian transferred from Pahokee to Glades Central to play his last two years for me and he was a big part of our successful season in 2019. He is one of the best hitters I’ve ever coached: He could hit a 90-mile-an-hour (pitch), and bat speed he has.”
Miguel Marquez has also been with the Raiders for two years. After high school he plans to get a degree in business management and start his own company. His advice for underclassmen is to listen to coach Leon and trust the process.
“Miguel is one of the most competitive baseball players that I know,” Leon explained. “He’s a tremendous athlete and covers a lot of ground in the outfield. On offense, he would slap the ball anywhere in the outfield. He has great IQ and he steals bases like it’s nothing. He has matured tremendously from his freshman year and became a leader on this team. I see a lot of me in Miguel. When I see him play, it’s like I’m looking at myself play when I was his age, except Miguel is actually better than me when I was his age.”
Anthony Brockman has been with the team for one year and plans to join the Marines after high school.
“Anthony is one of the funniest human beings I know,” Leon said. “He is also very competitive and has so much confidence. That’s what I really liked about him is that he never gives up. There were times when our team would shut down during the game, but Anthony was always there to lift them up with his words of encouragement. Anthony was new to baseball but he picked up the game instantly. I will truly miss his leadership and presence when he graduates.”
Eduardo Rivera was with the Raiders for two years and coach Leon describes him as one of the most improved players since coming into the program.
“Eduardo Rivera is a special young man on and off the field,” Leon stated. “He was a great role player. He always did his job whether it was playing in late innings or motivating his teammates between innings. I’ve never met a player as selfless as him. He was always the first one in practice and the last one to leave.”