Once An Anteater, Always An Anteater


Courtesy of Scott Roeder

Former minor-league baseball player for the Houston Astros, Ben Orloff, recently rejoined the Anteater baseball team in June as the new Assistant Coach.

For any athlete seeking a professional career, college is a time of emergence, a time of growth and development as a person and a player. Once you’ve made it in the big world, you’re given the chance to look back at your collegiate career and reflect upon how far you’ve actually progressed and prospered.

All-American Ben Orloff played short stop for UC Irvine from 2006 to 2009. For two years, he played for Coach Serrano and two years for the team’s current head Coach Mike Gillespie.

In 2009, Orloff got drafted by the Houston Astros and played up to AA the last two years.

“It was fun and a cool experience to get to play professionally,” he said. “That was something I always dreamed about doing ever since I was a little kid growing up.”

Upon achieving his dream, his biggest accomplishment has always been team success.

“While I was playing at Irvine we won the school’s first post-season game ever, first regional ever, first super regional ever, went to the College World Series and won a Big West Championship. Those are the things I am most proud of, being a part of that,”  Coach Orloff said.

Transitioning from player to coach comes with great responsibility. And with that, a great deal of pride as well.

“Coach Gillespie will help my transition to coaching,”  Orloff said. “He has an unbelievable track record and is probably the best in the business. I will listen and learn as much from him as fast as possible and never stop learning.”

“Beyond simply the physical skills and abilities Ben demonstrated as a player, he also exhibited uncommon instincts, awareness, and feel for the game.  These traits, combined with a passionate love for the game, a determined work ethic and an extraordinary ability to teach and train receptive players will define Ben as a great, young coach with a no-limit future.  UCI is lucky to have him back home,”  Head Coach Mike Gillespie said in a statement.

Furthermore, to coach means to be influential. It means to guide, and to teach; to impact, and to change for the better. It takes quite a character and personality to become a good coach.

“One of the reasons I’ve always been drawn to coaching is the impact the coaches I have played for, have had on my life. The college game is so pure and I’m excited to be able to have an impact on these 18-22 year old kids,”  Orloff said.

It is for that very reason that Ben Orloff decided to make the change from player to coach. “I decided to retire [as a player] because I was offered this opportunity to come back to the place where I played and become a coach.  UC Irvine is a special place for me and it is truly home.”

Home is where the heart is; and the heart seems to be solely at the Anteater Ballpark.

Learning is a huge aspect of being a player, and what is learned is eventually taught and passed down.   For Coach Orloff, the elements of playing baseball he has acquired over the years now lie as the basis of what he’ll give to his own players.

“I’ll try to pass on the passion and joy of competing to our players,”  Orloff said. “This game is fun and I think we are all at our best when we enjoy the moment and just worry about being great competitors.”

Coach Orloff has great expectations for Irvine’s upcoming baseball season. “We have missed the post season the last two years and we don’t want that to happen again. We will work hard and do our best to maximize what we are as a team,” he said. “The only advice I have [for the players] is to work as hard as [they] can and have as much fun as [they] can.”

Baseball is a team effort. The unity, togetherness and cooperation of a team are just a few of the many elements that contribute to the triumph of a team.

“The key to a successful season for us will be everyone buying in to the team concept.  It’s always about the team and if we are all pulling together then we will have a successful year,”  Coach Orloff said. “The pieces are in place for us to be good.”