Player-turned-coach Kyle Dhanani.

White Rock Tritons change up coaching

Kyle Dhanani in, Russ Smithson out with under-18 baseball squad.

The White Rock Tritons will have a new head coach calling the shots when the BC Premier Baseball Season resumes in the spring.

Russ Smithson – who coached the team for six seasons – has left the program and will be replaced by a former Tritons player, Kyle Dhanani.

Both Smithson and Tritons general manager Marty Lehn told Peace Arch News that the head-coaching change was a “mutual decision.”

Smithson, who lives in Port Coquitlam, added that with a newborn son at home, he had been mulling “temporary retirement” from coaching.

“I didn’t ask for a new contract, and we didn’t have any talks about renewing,” he said. “I’m excited to have some time with my family and won’t rush back into coaching 100 games a season yet.”

Sean Camilleri, head coach of the White Rock Junior Tritons, was also let go, Lehn said, despite leading the under-16 team to a 27-13 win-loss record last season – the best mark for the junior squad in the last seven years.

In his place will be Jordan Broatch – also a former Triton – who coached White Rock under-15 bantam AAA squad this summer, while a third former Triton, Trevor Lishanko, will serve as an assistant coach on the junior squad.

A new U15 Tritons ‘prep’ team – which will play under the White Rock-South Surrey Baseball Association banner – will also be added for 2017, Lehn said.

Lehn said both coaching moves were made, in part, to improve cohesion to the organization as a whole – “We’ll have staff all working together, with all three teams,” he said – while adding that the fact both Dhanani and Broatch live locally is also a bonus.

“I think having local community guys will really help,” Lehn said.

Dhanani was first announced as Smithson’s successor on the team’s website.

A shortstop during his playing days, the 28-year-old suited up for the Tritons from 2003-05 – while also playing high school baseball across the border in Blaine, Wash.

After graduating from the BCPBL, Dhanani played at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, and in 2009 was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers on the recommendation of Lehn, who was a scout with the Brewers at the time.

Most recently, he coached in Alberta, leading the Brooks Bombers through their inaugural season in the Western Major Baseball League.

“Russ did a great job, but we think Kyle will be a nice addition to our organization,” Lehn said.

After making the BCPBL playoffs in 2014 – ending a five-year drought – the Tritons did not qualify for the postseason in either 2015 or the ‘16 campaign, which ended in July. In 2015, the team was eliminated from contention on the final day of the regular season, but this year struggled to a 10-34 win-loss record, which put them 11th in the 12-team league.

“We had a tough year, no doubt. We had some injuries that hurt us, plus we had some young players who just needed a year of grooming,” Lehn said. “They’ve got that now, so we’re looking forward to next year. We’ve got a very nice nucleus (for 2017).”

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