Fort Myers Mighty Mussels hitting coach Rayden Sierra has spent the last four years in southwest Florida molding young baseball players pon and off the field. He was a volunteer coach at Florida Southwestern State College for one season before being hired on the professional level.
“I didn’t really have a lot of experience,” said Sierra. “And I was really lucky to be in a staff where they trusted me to just pretty much let me fail, if you will, and just go about and just do the stuff that you need to do to get better as a coach and to connect with players and all that. I think that experience definitely helped me out and I had some guidance there with the coaching staff that was there at the time.”
He didn’t have to go too far for his next endeavor, just travelling across town to Hammond Stadium to work for the Minnesota Twins organization.
“One thing that I really enjoyed was that I didn’t have to move to come to this job,” Sierra laughed.
“There’s been a lot of college coaches, whether it’s JUCO, Division Three, Division One, who have made the transition to the professional game,” said Brian Meyer, Mighty Mussels manager. “But him being able to do it in the same town, Ray’s a man of faith and he believes that everything happens for a reason.”
One of those reasons is obvious — helping the Mighty Mussels roster improve at-bat. But there’s more that the Dominican Republic native has been able to bring to the clubhouse.
“I think one of Ray’s biggest strengths is his ability to communicate with everyone and his his journey to where he’s at, coming to the states not knowing any English at this level has been invaluable,” said Meyer.
“I just tried to put myself in their shoes and just go back to how we felt when I first got to the states and just kind of help them out along the steps,” said Sierra. “I know that the language barrier is a real thing. The culture shock is a real thing.”
On top of his long list of coaching duties, Sierra helps translate for the Latin American players and he has taken them under his wing to mentor them as they adapt to American Culture.
“It has been great working with him,” said Mighty Mussels catcher Ricardo Olivar. “It has been a slow process but it’s getting there. [The coaches] help us all in the cages and outside. It’s not only about hitting, it’s about learning the culture and learning how to say a few words in English.”
“The first year, guys needed help with their taxes,” said Meyer. “And Ray was helping guys do their taxes to make sure that they got them in on time. You know, helping them understand the paperwork process that goes through it, and walking them through every single step to make sure that those guys were taken care of.”
The coaches and players say that his selfless attitude in his coaching methods are an inspiration to be like him.
“He’s never about himself,” said Meyer. “He’s always looking for what’s best for the player. What can help them succeed not just on the field but off the field. He’s a selfless leader and he’s just a jack of all trades.”
“[My everyday goal is to] help the guys get better however we can,” said Sierra. “It varies from player to player but ultimately, how can we go out there and just put up some runs and help these guys accomplish their goals and move up levels and give the people that come to the game a good show to watch and that’s that’s the goal, just help other players.”