Lightning Baseball

Player Testimonials
I would not be a successful, Division 1 catcher at an Ivy League institution without Dave Tucker and the rest of the Lightning Baseball coaching staff. I was fortunate to start training with Lightning Baseball when
I was in the 7th grade and I participated in both the Fall and Summer programs throughout my high school career. Athletically, the Lightning Academy prepared me to compete at every level throughout my career. Going into high school, I was already hitting and catching high school level pitchers. Similarly, prior to playing at Brown University, I was already exposed to college level pitching. I had access to work with, and learn from, a variety of the best coaches in the state. The instruction and experience that I gained through Lightning is second to none. The Lightning Academy has all the tools (facilities, coaches, equipment, etc.) necessary to help a player reach his goals. Lightning Baseball ultimately stands out to me because the program helped shape the man that I am today. Lightning Baseball preaches Hard Work, Accountability, and Positivity in everything that a player does. Going into my senior year of college, Dave still makes sure that I am getting good grades and doing my job in the classroom, because at the end of the day, if you don't get the grades, you will not see the field. Because of my positive experience with Lightning baseball, I have formed life long relationships with the coaches and teammates. 4 years into college, I still send hitting videos to Dave and reach out to the catching coaches for any questions or words of wisdom. I will forever be in debt to Dave and the Lightning Baseball Academy.

Josh Huntley
Brown University
Lightning Baseball 2008-2013

I was lucky to join the Lightning Baseball family at a young age; I was in 7th grade when I first met Dave Tucker. Over the past decade, Dave has become a mentor to me. It is because of him, and my experiences through my years with the program, that I have gained the desire to stick with baseball after college and become a coach. When I first joined the program as a player, it was a bit overwhelming listening to the backgrounds of all of the coaches. This program has taught me about the hard work and effort it takes to reach the next level. I don't think I would have made it as far as I have without the Lightning Baseball Academy and the countless experiences they taught me.
Eric Olguin
Utah Valley University
Lightning Baseball 2008-2013

Lightning Baseball was more than a team to play for in the fall, and more than a team to travel around with during the summer. I know that I would not be even close to the player that I am right now without the Lightning program. The Lightning Baseball program is a big family, giving more than just baseball lessons. The life lessons that I learned weighed more than the baseball lessons learned. Lightning Baseball taught me that nothing comes easy. They taught me you have to work hard in order to get where you want and no matter how bad you want it; it is not just going to be given to you. I learned this lesson my first day of the lighting fall freshman year, spending all Saturday going from drill to drill with only a small lunch break. It was a lesson I learned over and over again. It really clicked in my head that baseball was what I wanted to do and I really learned that I need to work harder than I ever had before to reach what I wanted to accomplish. Lightning really is a big family. I had a lot of support surrounding me throughout my entire journey thus far. Especially when I went through a tough time with my high school coach who told me that I was not going to be good enough to play for him at the varsity level. That was the turning point for me and really when I developed some amazing relationships with some incredible coaches. I can never thank Coach Dave, Michael, Matt, and Shep for how they stood by me in that rough patch. I can never thank them enough for pushing me harder and telling me what I was capable off. The bond I have formed with all of these coaches are irreplaceable. When things weren't going as planned and I really faced some adversity they were there for me with no hesitation. And this still stands true today. The confidence that they have shown in me is unmatched. They always, even when they know I am not preforming like I should be, always displayed confidence in me. The relationships that I have formed still stand today even though I have moved onto college. They send me confidence from the distance. I made some incredible memories with team and the coaches. My teammates I played with over the last three summers were really incredible and I more than enjoyed all of them. I remember telling coach Matt we were going to bring another trophy to the program in my senior summer as we had failed to do so in my previous two. It was an amazing feeling, not only to bring one but TWO championships. I told you Matt. Every little thing adds up to a big thing. Perhaps one of the most important thing that I learned from the game and taught to me by these coaches. All of the little things that I have learned and worked on have added up to the player that I am today. Again, I can never thank the Lightning baseball program and all of the coaches enough for getting me to this point in my life and my career. Lightning Baseball has giving me some incredible opportunities and some amazing memories to carry with me wherever my journey may take me. Thank you Lightning family for everything that you have put me through and been through with me, I love you guys. #Elevate
Ryan "Sully" Sullivan
Iowa Western CC
Lightning Baseball 2012-2016

Lightning baseball. Two years ago I had no idea what it was, then a fellow teammate gave me an email. After I hit send I didn't realize that my life would change. I sent that email to Dave Tucker, he and I exchanged emails and it resulted in me driving to the facility. When I got there he was there waiting for me and greeted me with such enthusiasm that it seemed as if he had known me for my whole life. We started talking about baseball, he asked me what positions I play, but he didn't stop there. He asked about my family and my background. I could tell he was trying to make a connection and not just make a sales pitch. I ultimately decided that I would be a part of the Lightning program the fall of my senior year. The first coach I met after Dave, was Matt Tucker. He struck me as a very easy going guy who would give you every opportunity to succeed, and I couldn't have been any more spot on. The amount of attention and teaching I got from him while I played for him was unreal. Also Coach Michael he was there and broke everything down from a fundamental standpoint. If you had questions you could talk to him, to any coach for that matter, and they were there to help and make sure you got what you needed out of it. My favorite memories of my Lightning career would be the team aspect we had. There were some rough patches and Coach Matt would never let our spirits get too low, he always was there to pump us up no matter what was going on. He was always able to have fun all the time and it really helped to have a fun time during the season. Also the ability to go hit at the facility. The technology was unreal and everything you needed to get better was there. From Hittrax to the Pro Mirror, to just a tee and a long cage, it was all at your disposal. Looking back on it, my main regret was not being a part of this program sooner. Looking back I wish I would have joined the program sooner, it is something I very truly regret. However with that being said, I couldn't be more thankful of Dave for helping me achieve my dream of playing college baseball, and of helping me realize the ball player I could actually be. Also to Matt, for teaching me the little things about baseball, and for helping become the best player I could be. I have nothing bad to say about this program, truly the best baseball program Colorado has to offer 10/10 would recommend.
Matt Meraz
Shoreline CC
Lightning Baseball 2015-2016

I am not sure if I would be where I am in my life today without the Lightning program. Throughout my High School career, I can easily say Dave and Matt Tucker and Shepple were the most influential people in my life. Over the past 3 years I have grown more as a baseball player than I ever would have with anyone else. Not only as a baseball player but as a man too. The Lightning program teaches and plays the game the right way. It's bigger than the game, it's not just teaching baseball skills but life skills as well. Doing the right thing all the time even when no one is looking. The game of baseball translates so well into life, the work ethic that needs to be displayed in order to play at the next level is the same work ethic that people need to learn in life. And Lightning has taught me that. My greatest moment in the Lightning program came in the summer of 2015. My best friend was currently in the hospital fighting Leukemia. Of course his favorite team was the Baltimore Orioles. At that moment in my life, baseball was my only way I could smile because my friend could not play the game we loved growing up. Throughout that summer Matt and Dave were with me the entire summer checking in on me and continuing to bring my spirits up when they were down. It goes back to what I said earlier, Lightning is bigger than just playing the game of Baseball. As the summer passed and we got into fall Cal (friend with Leukemia) was slowly diminishing with his fight with cancer. Talking for a little then Matt he asked me if they could make him an honorary player in the Lightning program, he proceeded and ordered him his own personal Lightning uniform to wear whenever, also promising when he beat the disease he would be welcomed to come play and be in the dugout whenever and however often he wanted to. With Matt played in the Orioles organized he also knew players on the team. Cal's favorite player was Adam Jones, so Matt having connections he was able to get Adam Jones to sign a baseball and send it to Cal as a special gift from the Orioles. The day I presented it to him, Matt decided to come along with me up to the hospital. Along with that he also brought all of the Lighting apparel that had Cal's name on it. Also bringing one of his old game used bat from when he was playing with the Orioles. And on top of that Orioles apparel because Cal loved the Orioles. It still brings tears to my eyes everyday thinking about what Matt did for my friend Cal while he was battling with Leukemia. I don't know any other Coach or mentor that would be willing to take time out of their busy day to spend the night with one of his player's, friends in the hospital. Just talking baseball and life, again Lightning is bigger than just the game of Baseball. It is about growing up with the game, becoming a better man as well as becoming a better ball player. Later that year Cal passed away and guess who came to the funeral, Coach Matt. Without the help of Shepple and the dedication he puts into working with his players, I would never be able to pitch at the level I am capable of. During the winter when most Lightning players have off or are throwing with Shep whenever he set up times, I was playing basketball. Playing basketball was my off season from baseball but I then wasn't able to throw during the winter with the coaches. Shep was so dedicated with working with his players every Thursday at 9pm after basketball practice he would meet me at Elite Speed to throw and work on what I needed to work on. Along with Tuesday mornings throwing at 5:30am, long toss. For Shep to take time out of his night and to get up at the crack of dawn just to work with me shows how much the game still means to every single coach in the Lightning program. If you are willing to put in the work and get better, every single coach is going to give you their best to get you better. Walking into the Lightning program and meeting Dave was the start of being the best 3 years of Baseball and the most fun. Without Dave I would have never learned as much about the game than I did being around him. In every practice there is always a purpose, every player and every coach has a purpose with what they are working on, and that all starts with Dave. There is always a purpose to everything. Being around Dave I can learn something new every time. If you were to stand next to Dave and entire game, I guarantee you would leave the game feeling like you just learned the entire game of Baseball again. Wanting to play at the next level I needed to learn more about the game and Lightning was exactly what I was looking for. Dave is ultimately the most knowledgably baseball person I have ever met, and if you want to grow as a player you need to learn, without Dave I would have never learned everything I did in my short 3 years with Lightning. I am positive my relationship with any of the Lightning coaches will never be broken. Continuing onto Central Arizona (which wouldn't be possible without them) I still talk to them weekly checking in on Lightning and vis versa for me. In the end, Lightning will forever be my Baseball home and my Baseball family. Sometimes the game is about the people you grow with and the relationships you build. Without the entire Lightning program, I would never be where I am as a baseball player and as a man today.
Zach Sundine
Lamar CC
Lightning Baseball 2014-2016

5.6% of high school baseball players get the chance to play collegiate baseball. For a very long time, I had thoughts creeping in the back of my mind that I was going to become part of the 94.4% that would never achieve their dreams, and become just another statistic. I thought I was just another high school pitcher, who if he got lucky and got a break, would find a college team. But when I met the Lightning coaches, they thought there was a whole lot more potential than that. I initially met Coach Dave Tucker and Tyler Shepple at a youth baseball team's tryouts, where I was simply throwing batting practice and they approached me afterwards. Telling me that they really liked the way I threw and instantly knew I was a pitcher. I responded with, "I was just throwing BP though," slightly confused. They claimed that it didn't matter and they could just tell I could pitch. So they invited me to see what it was all about. I attended my first Fall Academy with Lightning baseball in the Fall of 2013. One thousand and fifty days later I threw my final pitch in a Lightning uniform. For me, there is one reason why Lightning is such a special program, and it's pretty simple, the relationships. Never have I been on a team before that had closer and more genuine relationships than Lightning. Both between players and coaches, the relationships are the kinds that are very personal. Personal enough to even take off the field. Now, I'm not saying every single kid and coach I met during my 3 years on Lightning has become my best friend for life. But the people that are part of the program are of that caliber. I know the teammates I have played with for 3 years have become friendships that I carry into college even when our time with Lightning has ended. Personally, I think the reason that everyone becomes so close on this team is because everyone is looking out for each other and has the best interest at heart of each other. Everything that the players do, are for each other, and everything the coaches do are for the benefit of the players. To get scouted by colleges, teams have to make it deep into tournaments, that way all the scouts come to see them play in the quarter, semi and championship games. Teams cannot play selfishly. If they do, no one gets scouted and everyone gets frustrated. But by bonding and playing together and playing the game it was meant to be played is what helps everyone get the looks they deserve. This brotherhood on the field makes very strong friendships between players and coach's. For me, the two coaches I spent the most time with were Dave and Matt Tucker. All 3 years I was around them playing for the Gold team. It started out as any player-coach relationship starts, testing the waters to get a feel for each other. Well, I had plenty of time to test the waters, after 3 years Matt was like an older brother to me and Dave a father figure. This relationship carried off the field, as I spent many weekends working at the house, texting and talking about more than just baseball and more of a friendship than just a player-coach relationship. You spend 3 years with anyone and you'll get to know them pretty well. Spend 3 years on the baseball field and support each other through the highs and lows, now that's something else. It's hard to describe and name everything they have done for me. It wasn't just Matt and Dave though, I had numerous other coaches help me along my way. Just to name some: Coach Shep, Coach Michael, Coach Carl, Coach Jeff, Coach Vandy and all the others have all contributed to all the success I had with Lightning. But it is safe to say, that thanks to my friendships with them, they helped me grow magnificently as a player and mature as a young man. Oddly enough, some of my favorite memories with Lightning aren't all on the baseball field. Off the field memories are the best to joke and talk about. Perhaps like the one time the team took a trip to Huntington Beach, California and spent the day playing volleyball on the beach. To this day, Matt will always deny the fact that I destroyed him on a play, and spiked it with so much ferocity, there was no way for him to handle it. There's a ton of other memories just like that one, that involve a lot of trash talking amongst the team. When the team goes on out of state trips together is typically are when the best of these memories are made. Crazy stuff tends to happen when you bring 20+ high school guys and coaches and squeeze them into a hotel together. On the other hand, memories made on the field are, of course, pretty incredible. Winning back to back tournaments in the summer of 2016 was incredible. For all 3 years I was on the team, we had never quite figured it out to win a tournament. We had made it to the quarter finals, the semifinals multiple times but never pieced it all together to win the whole thing. Finally, after 3 years, we won not only one tournament, but back to back tournaments with style. First at Metro State and again in Pueblo, beating both the home team and Cherry Creek to take the championship. The feeling of all the hard work paying off was incredible. When I pitched the game against the home team, it was a very competitive low scoring game, very stressful for a pitcher I might add. When it was all said and done, we got the job done, striking out the last batter. Clearly I was very excited but the first person I saw in the dugout was Matt, who was just as, if not more excited than I was to win that game. That just goes to show the passion that these coaches have for the game. They do everything in their power to watch the players and the team succeed. Finally, one last memory is the final game with Lightning. With a program that did so much for me, to see it all come to an end, was clearly an emotional roller-coaster. At the end of the game, going through the line of teammates and giving them one last hug is something that I will hold close to my heart forever. At the end of the line stood the coaches, there weren't really too many words exchanged as the feeling was mutual. Again, just something special that I will always remember. If I played for someone else during these 3 summer, I highly doubt I would still have the same fond memories that I have with the Lightning teams. Aside from all the personal aspects that Lightning provides, they are very good at their job of coaching. The combined knowledge that the Lightning coaches contain, is unreal. Every day on the diamond, I learned something about the game. Even if it was a huge ground breaking piece of information, and more of just a little piece of the game, it was something. And isn't it the best players and teams are the ones who pay the most attention to the details? That's no coincidence. Coach Dave may be the best at this. Nothing happens on the baseball field that he doesn't notice. This is what impressed me the most. Something that I wouldn't even think about, he would notice, and have ways to improve. To truly understand what I'm saying, you really just need to be there. Standing next to him in the dugout for a game, might be the best way to learn about the game of baseball. As a student of the game, this is exactly what I was looking for! Coaches that can help me learn and improve my game even while it isn't my turn to be on the field. Improving "baseball IQ" and learning about the game from the dugout is just as important as being out on the field getting reps. It gives a whole other perspective. But the best part of it is that, all the knowledge they have on the field, they can match with knowledge off the field. Yet again, where Lightning stands out, off the field. The coaches can tell and teach you about anything off the field, from girls, to school, to work or anything else that life throws at you. Most of these conversations are about girls however. The things they tell us, we all kind of laugh about and is a good laugh for everyone, until you realize they were completely right. I won't spoil any of the great stories they can tell. But there were many times when I came to them, often struggling with off field issues and they were always there with open arms and ready to do anything they could do to help. All in all, Lightning baseball was one of the most important things to happen to me as a person and player. Being able to play for the organization was a huge blessing that I am very thankful for every day. I don't think I'd ever be able to repay the coaches for the time and effort they've put into me. The only possible way I could think of is to simply play every day the way they taught me and love every moment of it. Lightning has a way of producing exceptional baseball players and I can't wait to see what some of my friends and teammates will be like after they have gone through it all. Or maybe even one day come back to coach. For anyone in doubt or on the fence about Lightning, do it, sign up. Call to talk to any of the coaches and find out for yourself. You'll be met with open arms, and opportunity. It could quite possibly become the time of your life.
Christian Manmano
Lamar CC
Lightning Baseball 2013-2016

Lightning coaches,

I just want to say how much I enjoyed the Summer I played with Lightning. It was one of the best summers of my life! Both of my coaches (Whitey and Shep) were the best guys to be around because they were mentors on the field but also very easy to get along with off the field. My favorite memories of the summer were the car rides in California, going to the beach and playing sand volleyball with all the coaches on the days off. Also, when Dave would go from team to team he was very personal with every player and he always made sure we were having fun and enjoying our time on the field. There were countless times where Dave personally came to me and told me if there was anything I needed in the future he was just a text away! Thank you lightning for being such a great program and allowing me the opportunity to get better as a ball player and person!
Alex Achtermann
Western Nebraska CC
Lightning Baseball 2014

I can't say enough about the Lightning Baseball Academy and how fortunate I am for what they provided (and continue to provide) me with as a player and person. I'm honored to have been part of such a first class organization, and if anybody were to ask what I consider the best thing I did for my baseball career to this point, I would say without question it was playing with the Lightning. The opportunities Dave Tucker and the Lightning provided me with have been incredible. Countless collegiate programs and professional scouts saw me pitch in a Lightning uniform, largely because of the connections and the reputation the Lightning has developed through the years. I played against college teams for the Lightning at the age of 16 and 17 and had Division I college interest before I ever played a high school varsity inning; I know for a fact the only reason I did is because Dave Tucker recognized something in me far sooner than any other team I had played with. I saw huge strides in my time as a Lightning player, largely due to the programs we followed and the instruction received from all coaches, but especially from coach Tyler Shepple. He developed my craft unique to my natural throwing style, and without question he has been the most influential coach I have ever had. I saw immense growth in myself and every pitcher I threw alongside; every pitcher threw harder and more effective, and no pitcher I threw with had any arm injuries. The results I saw were seemingly instantaneous, and only continued to progress in my time under this coaching staff. I wouldn't be anywhere near the pitcher I am today without that instruction. I have made lifelong friends with the teammates and coaches I played with, and I can't fully express how much fun I had during my time with the Lightning. There is plenty that sets the Lightning apart, but above all, they insist on playing the game the right way. They prepare their players to be competitors, to handle all this game gives them, and to respect and cherish every moment they have at the ballpark. I joined the Lightning organization because I needed more than what I was getting, and I will never forget how big of a smile I had on my face when I saw my dad after my first Lightning practice, when I first realized I had finally found what I had been looking for in baseball for a long time. This organization gives every one of their players the tools to become better players and better people, and I am forever grateful to have received that myself.

Justin Wick
LHP South Mountain CC/Creighton University
Lightning Baseball 2013-2015

Without the help and guidance of Dave Tucker and the Lightning Baseball program I wouldn't be where I am today and that's living my dream of playing Division 1 college baseball. Mr. Tucker, and the Lightning staff not only gave me the exposure that I needed to be seen by numerous big time Division 1 baseball programs but they also helped me develop into the player that I am today. Lightning baseball is a first class baseball organization that does things the right way. Not only do you leave the program becoming a better baseball player, you leave the program prepared to carry yourself with class and composure on AND off the field at the next level.

Brandon Bailey
Gonzaga University
2016 6th Round - Oakland Athletics