By Christian Manoukian
Henry Omana never thought he would be playing baseball in college.
“From a young age, I was always incredibly interested in football and tossing the ball in my family’s backyard. I loved playing quarterback in our family scrimmages,” Omana said. “Growing up, there was rarely a moment where I wasn’t playing or watching football.”
Omana’s transformation from a young boy surrounded by football to a pitcher stepping on the mound for his first college game at Cal State Fullerton, before transferring to Cal Poly Pomona to continue his baseball career, has certainly been a fascinating journey thus far.
On May 11, 1994, Henry Omana was born in Walnut, California to parents Henry Sr. and Yolanda.
Growing up, Omana grew to love many sports, from American football to baseball.
Most of his Hispanic family, including brothers Christian and David, were avid football fans, and baseball certainly wasn’t the first sport on their minds when they saw that Henry was a gifted athlete.
“I knew I could move, dart and dodge around. I knew I was stronger than a lot of kids my age, I knew I had an exceptionally strong arm, but didn’t know quite where I would fit in, in regards to sports,” Omana said wryly with a shrug of his shoulders.
Even if he may have been a bit unsure or indecisive about his own playing future growing up, there’s no doubt Omana had the talent to succeed in his genes already.
His father was a gifted athlete in his own playing days, a star competitor playing both football and baseball at El Monte High School before going on to play at Utah State University.
His dad’s story of success in multiple sports was one that inspired Omana to also go out in high school and pursue a dual-career playing both football and baseball at Diamond Bar High School as a quarterback and pitcher.
After transferring from Mater Dei High School, Omana played on Diamond Bar’s football team for three seasons and was twice named first team all-league at the quarterback position.
Since each sport occurs in different seasons, Omana was able to easily transition between the grueling training required for football and the careful preparation needed for baseball season.
“We would do heavy weightlifting all throughout football season and my power and strength would be shooting through the roof. Then, when baseball season rolled around, that power I already had in my arm would transfer into my pitching,” Omana explained.
All that training paid off. College scouts and recruiters starting turning up to his games, in both sports.
He was getting football offers from Division I schools like the University of Colorado and Oregon State University.
At the same time, he was becoming the standout pitcher on Diamond Bar’s baseball team.
He had played three years on the varsity squad for head coach Eric Shibley and was a two-time (2011, 2012) first team all-Hacienda League selection when college offers started rolling in.
During his senior year, he finished with a 5-1 record and 1.11 earned run average, following up a strong junior campaign as he compiled a 6-0 record, 1.06 ERA and in 33 innings allowed only 23 hits.
These sensational stats caught the eye of Cal State Fullerton, which recruited him in 2013 to join their squad.
“I just instinctively knew that Fullerton was where I was supposed to be. I felt like I could forge my future pitching career there,” Omana said. “I had the opportunity to enter college playing football, but something deep inside of me was constantly leading me back to baseball. I couldn’t ignore that feeling.”
However, because of the competitiveness of Fullerton’s roster and the challenging prospect of Division I baseball, Omana didn’t play too many games for the Titans.
He made five relief appearances his freshman year before redshirting for much of the rest of his time at Fullerton.
“It wasn’t exactly how I had envisioned my first stint in college baseball going, but I’m resilient,” said Omana.
After graduating from Fullerton in 2016, he transferred to CPP to begin his post-baccalaureate degree in History.
It was here, at Scolinos Field, that Omana began to grow into the player scouts had once dreamed of signing for their teams.
He began pitching far more regularly for the Broncos and began racking up strong stats along with his increased time on the mound.
In the 2017 season so far, he has pitched a total of 41 innings over a two-month period, allowing only three home runs during that time.
He has kept his season ERA down to 3.73, very good for a pitcher who isn’t CPP’s first starter.
“I can only go upwards from here. I come to training each day with laser-like focus, and I’m ready to give it my all,” said Omana. “All I can say is I’m excited for the future here at CPP.”
It turns out, football wasn’t his destiny, like some in his family may have originally thought.
It was baseball.
And that’s just the way Omana likes it.
Courtesy of Jorge Lopez
Omana is 3-5 this season with a 3.75 ERA and 47 strikeouts
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