The Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees unanimously approved the naming of the Turlock High Baseball Field in honor of long-time teacher and head baseball coach Mark de La Motte. The vote comes nearly five years after the original proposal of naming the ball field was introduced to the Board and an abundance of revisions to the policy on naming campus facilities.
De la Motte, his wife Laura, his daughters and his four grandchildren were all in attendance at Tuesday night’s Board meeting. After the vote, de la Motte spoke to a packed room of supporters.
“I’d like to thank and accept this on behalf of all of the outstanding people who have helped me,” de la Motte said. “I was fortunate to work with five principals and five athletic directors, and all were outstanding. I was fortunate to work with so many great coaches and teachers, many of the coaches being coaches and teachers…”
De la Motte taught at Turlock High School for 38 years and coached baseball for a total of 42 years. During his 26-year tenure as head varsity baseball coach, the Bulldogs won over 500 games with eight Central California Conference championships and two section title appearances. He is the winningest baseball coach in the school’s history.
Additionally, de la Motte coached over 100 student-athletes who continued their playing careers in college. On top of the collegiate success, over two dozen of his players have played baseball professionally.
“We had a lot of success, but our most valued success is how our players turned out. We were as proud as the guys who graduated, got a job and coached Little League or youth soccer as the guys who made the Major Leagues,” de la Motte said.
He explained that getting a job at Turlock High seemed like destiny for him.
“When I finished school, I applied and sent out over 200 letters to schools, but only got one interview and didn’t get the job,” de la Motte said. “But I student-taught at Turlock for the one of the greatest teachers I’ve ever seen, Maxine Atherton, and learned how to teach… My first official day at Turlock High, I met my wife, who was also a first-year teacher. I think with those 200 letters I sent for jobs, the Lord had other plans for me. She’s been my biggest help and supporter at Turlock High and away.”
De la Motte was presented with a certificate and received a roaring round of applause from all in attendance, including CCAL commissioner and former THS educator Ed Felt, and his successor as THS head varsity baseball coach, Sean Gilbert. After the meeting, TUSD released an official statement of congratulations.
“Congratulations to Mark, his wife Laura, and all his family on this prestigious recognition,” the statement said. “We look forward to seeing the first pitch thrown out at Mark de la Motte Field.”