Haynes coach Stropolo bullish on Cristian Poche’ and his future at UNO
METAIRIE – Having just completed his tenth year as the head baseball coach and assistant football coach at Haynes Academy, veteran coach Steve Stropolo has grown with the program since it began competing in high school sports at the same time.
Stropolo has been around high school sports since his own playing days. He played football and baseball at Ridgewood, graduating in 1973, and went on to star at Nicholls State from 1973-77 and was inducted in the Colonels Hall of Fame for his excellence.
Stropolo spent 15 years as the head baseball coach at Ridgewood from 1985-2001. He also served as an assistant coach in baseball and football at East Jefferson for two years (2002-03) before taking the head baseball coaching position and an assistant football coaching position at Riverside Academy, serving from 2004-07.
Aside from serving as head baseball coach at Haynes, he is an assistant football coach for the Yellow Jackets as well.
While Stropolo has coached some nice baseball players in his decade at Haynes, he is lamenting losing perhaps the best player he has coached to graduation while celebrating at the same time.
Cristian Poche’ recently completed his eligibility at Haynes and has signed with the University of New Orleans.
Poche’ is the first boys athlete in school history to sign a Division I scholarship in any sport. Haynes just completed its ninth year as an LHSAA participating school in athletics.
A year ago, Haynes all-state catcher Codi Vernace signed a softball scholarship with Northwestern State.
Poche’ (6-0, 170) started on the varsity as an eighth-grader at Haynes.
“He pitched and played right field for us as an eighth-grader on the varsity,” Stropolo said. “We were lacking numbers then and taking baby steps. He played metro for us. He played the outfield and batted eighth and he did just fine. He handled it very well. Not too many, make that very few, are capable of doing so.”
Stropolo is very high on Poche’ achieving success at UNO.
“I think everything is ahead of him,” Stropolo said. “If they use him as a pitcher, he’s got three good pitches. He has to command his pitches better but they can work on that with him. He can hit and he can play the outfield. He’s one of the best outfielders in the state in any classification. He’s a natural out there. He belongs out there. He struck out twice all year this past season. That should tell you something. He can bunt. He understands the game.”
Aside from his obvious talent, Poche’ is the whole package, according to Stropolo.
“It was a pleasure to coach him,” Stropolo said. “He is a good kid. He is a pure baseball player. He could have played back in the 1970’s when I played. I graduated in 1973. He does all of the things you want him to do. He is really a good kid.”
While Poche’ will have growing pains and must learn the ropes as a Privateer, Stropolo cannot wait to see the process begin.
“Wherever they use him, he will do a great job,” Stropolo said. “There will be question marks until he gets acclimated to what is going on but I believe he will find his way and take off. He wants it. It will be great for everyone to see him play in his hometown with everyone having a chance to see him play.”
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