Wesley Ghan-Gibson had no regrets when he hung up his cleats as captain of the Cal State Northridge baseball team 15 months ago.
“I felt like I’d put in all the work I could and left everything on the field,” said Ghan-Gibson, a former three-sport star at San Marcos High School. “I did everything possible to be the best player I could be.
“I wasn’t anxiously wishing that I had done this or had done that. I was at peace with it.”
But he’s now grabbed onto a different piece of the national pastime as the new head varsity baseball coach at his alma mater. Ghan-Gibson, 24, was named this week to succeed Jacob Pepper, who stepped down last month after seven years as San Marcos’ head coach.
“It’s a dream job for me,” Ghan-Gibson said. “I live only about two minutes away from the school.”
His connection to the Royals began as a third grader when his father, Brian Gibson, volunteered as an assistant coach with their football team. San Marcos got his son as a ball boy in the bargain.
Ghan-Gibson once described the sports fields as “a haven” for both of them after his mother, Vangie Ghan, died of cancer in 2006. He eventually became San Marcos’ starting quarterback in football, shortstop in baseball, and power forward in basketball.
Coaching, however, wasn’t “necessarily the end goal for me” after he graduated from CSUN in 2019 with a degree in psychology.
“It sort of just came upon me,” Ghan-Gibson said. “I came home from school last summer and coach (Jason) Fowle called and asked if wanted to come out and coach some football.
“Then a little later, coach Pepper called and asked, ‘Hey, you want to coach baseball?’ It was one of those things that just kind of fit, and it felt good doing it. So here I am.”
Ghan-Gibson and his father coached San Marcos’ junior varsity baseball team last spring. He also joined Pepper in the varsity dugout whenever the JVs didn’t have a concurrent game.
“I feel pretty lucky to be in this spot, just starting out as a coach, and yet I feel old in baseball,” he said. “I’ve been in the trenches for the last five years as a player and I definitely don’t feel unprepared for this.
“Only the fund-raising part of it is new to me.”
Ghan-Gibson played two seasons of shortstop at SBCC, earning All-Western State Conference First-Team honors. He played both second and third bases at CSUN in 2018, but spent most of his senior season as the Matadors’ starting first baseman.
He ranked eighth in the Big West Conference in 2019 with a team-best seven home runs. He capped his career with a homer on Senior Day against national power Cal State Fullerton.
Ghan-Gibson also felt empowered as one of CSUN’s team captains. He considered it to be a good training ground for a coaching career.
“You’re basically the players’ coach,” he said. “The coaches would involve you in so many decisions. ‘What do you think we should do here? Who do we need to talk to? Who needs to be pushed?’
“It was an early test for me. Getting that kind of experience on that level was really cool.”
He also expects to put his psychology degree to good use.
“I enjoyed it as a major and it’s actually helped me out as a coach already,” Ghan-Gibson said. “I’m able to connect with different types of kids. They’re not all the same — kids don’t come from the same cookie cutter, for sure — and I think knowing that has helped me a lot.”
San Marcos athletic director Abe Jahadhmy has already surrounded him with a veteran staff. Royals’ alum Morgan Moore, who began coaching baseball at San Marcos during Ghan-Gibson’s freshman year, will continue working with the team.
“Morgan has been here for nine years and he’s really the glue of the program,” Ghan-Gibson said. “He gets stuff done and he’s really excited to be continuing that role for us.”
Former Westmont College infielder Steve Hardesty, who served as an assistant coach for the Warriors as well as at SBCC, Moorpark, and Ventura Colleges, will be joining them in the Royals’ dugout. Hardesty and Ghan-Gibson worked together this summer in the Coastal Cubs youth baseball program that is operated by Tom Myers, the area scout supervisor for the Chicago Cubs.
“We really gelled together this summer,” Ghan-Gibson said. “I asked him, ‘Hey, if I get this job, will you do it with me?’ He said, ‘Absolutely! Let’s get it done.’”
Myers has also agreed to help the team as an advisor, Jahadhmy said.
“We put a lot of work in this summer with the Coastal Cubs when we were allowed to, and 70% of the program were San Marcos kids,” Ghan-Gibson pointed out. “They’re continuing to grow and meshing well.
“We have a good group coming back at San Marcos. They were young last year and they really seem to be growing up a lot. It’s super-exciting.”
The Royals were 5-3-1 and 1-0-1 in the Channel League, having battled highly ranked Santa Barbara to a 1-1 tie, when the COVID-19 pandemic brought a sudden end to last season.
Of the team’s top 11 players, five were only sophomores and three were juniors. San Marcos is returning all six of its pitchers including UCSB commit Henry Manfredonia, a senior who batted a team-best .478 last year, as well as lefthander Chase Hoover, a junior who recently committed to TCU. Also back is catcher Joaquin Sandoval, who batted .312 and served as a team captain despite being just a sophomore
“They have high expectations, and it’s good to have them as long as they put in the work,” Ghan-Gibson said. “If we emphasize that, and the fundamentals and doing the little things, we have the talent to be able to compete for a Channel League championship every year.”