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Painton to retire after season, Bolton introduced as permanent AD, and more from BC media day

20220114-bc-mediaday

Bakersfield College baseball coach Tim Painton, right, announces that he will retire after the 2022 season as newly minted athletic director Reggie Bolton looks on.

After 27 years, more than 600 wins and 250 players sent to other schools on scholarship, Bakersfield College baseball coach Tim Painton will retire following the 2022 season.

Painton made the announcement at BC's spring media day Thursday in advance of the baseball team's preseason alumni game on Saturday. He reflected on the connections he's forged during his tenure as head coach.

"I'm going to really miss the relationships with players more than anything else," he said. "I love to compete; I can find other ways to compete. But the relationships I've had with players — former players, current players — is my biggest takeaway from here."

Painton arrived at BC in the 1990s expecting to get in and get out. He had already spent three years at Porterville College after a decade as an assistant at Fresno State, and was hoping to make his move to the next level. That mindset changed dramatically.

"Bakersfield is what kept me here," he said. "It was a great place to raise a family first and foremost — that's why I never left."

Indeed, he and his wife are both retiring and moving to Arizona, where his adult children now live, at the end of the season. He said the life of a coach made him miss his kids growing up: "I'm not gonna do that with grandkids," he said.

He said he'll be out of state, but he won't forget the players he's coaching this year.

"You can bet that I will have the opportunity to see them play and progress," he added.

Like all the spring sports featured at Thursday's media day, baseball had its season completely cut short in 2020 and abbreviated in 2021. Painton conceded that this affected his decision-making process, and said it made two years feel like 15. He'll aim for one last hurrah with this season's full schedule, which begins Jan. 27 against Moorpark.

Many younger coaches at BC saw Painton as a mentor during his tenure. That includes Reggie Bolton, who said he's called Painton for advice when "going off the deep end."

Bolton started the press conference by being introduced as BC's new athletic director. A former Renegade defensive coordinator and longtime kinesiology department chair, Bolton has served in the AD role on an interim basis since July 2020, and received praise from his colleagues for his handling of the evolving pandemic.

"I don't know a lot of people that could do it," softball coach Casey Goodman said. "I probably would have run the other way. So we're grateful for him — he's fighting for us to make sure that we get to stay on the field."

A host of spring sports are slated to begin intercollegiate play in January and February: baseball, beach volleyball, men's golf, softball swimming, tennis and track and field. The current COVID-19 surge doesn't seem to be dampening the enthusiasm of the players and coaches who appeared at media day, many of whom stressed their confidence in their ability to follow protocols and stay healthy.

"We're gonna take some names right here next month, and it's gonna be awesome," said returning swimmer Paul Carlson.

Several teams weren't able to compete at all last season, and will have gone nearly two years without facing off against another school. And while, as coach Matt Moon puts it, "time is time" in swimming, Carlson said that extra motivation comes from facing opposition.

Two years without doing so is an eternity at a junior college where many students' stay is only two years. With such roster turnover, Moon said he's had to look to some younger students to take on influential roles and lead by example.

"It's (about) trying to find those leadership characteristics in some of the younger, new athletes," Moon said, "and kind of leaning on them a lot more." 

Roster scarcity was previously a dire issue for the Renegade softball team.

"Coming back from last year," said infielder Jayden Beam, a third-year freshman, "we ended up only having nine players at one point: one pitcher, one catcher and one field of girls."

But the team now lists 15 players on its roster, and has kept a consistent strength and conditioning regimen that Goodwin said will serve them well as they enter a full season of play Jan. 28.

"They jumped right in," she said, "and we're a lot further ahead than I thought we would be at this point."

In two weeks, when Painton's final squad and Goodman's resurgent one debut, it will start to become clear just how normal of a season lies ahead for these spring sports teams.

Reporter Henry Greenstein can be reached at 661-395-7374. Follow him on Twitter: @HenryGreenstein.