18U Giancarlo Bernardo Commits to NJCAA D1 Rend Lake College Warriors in Illinois

by Jim Stewart

Amid a flurry of late Fall signings, 18U Catcher Giancarlo Bernardo became the sixth Titans Baseball Club player to commit to a US College in the last 11 days.  Bernardo had numerous scholarship opportunities, but chose the NJCAA Division 1 Rend Lake College Warriors in Ina, Illinois—a community located between St. Louis, Missouri and Louisville, Kentucky. The veteran CPBL catcher signed his letter of intent with the southern Illinois school for “several reasons:  Firstly, there was the shared faith between Coach Bullington and me. While talking to Coach Bullington, I was able to get the sense of his sincere desire to have me play for the Warriors; that made me extremely excited. Secondly, the trust I have in Coach Bailey and Coach Vera to get me where I want to be not only on the baseball field, but also off the baseball field. Lastly, the Rend Lake Warriors baseball program has an abundance of success, connections, and knowledge offered to me as a young player.” The Vaughan resident has lived his life “predominantly in the city or in the suburbs of a major city, so moving to the lake district and national forest region of Southern Illinois ” will help him “further understand what life is like outside [his] ‘City Lifestyle’.” 

Bernardo is completing his Grade 12 studies currently at Our Lady Queen of the World Catholic Academy in Richmond Hill and will major in “Business Management” at Rend Lake College. He expounded on his plan to “branch into more business-related fields and minor in the dramatic arts.”  Bernardo’s athletic goal at RLC is “most importantly, to help the team win; the Warriors program breeds and shapes winners. I want to be indoctrinated into that winning lifestyle of the program. I want to be the best I can be, but I don't get wrapped in personal records. However, I will challenge myself to set records at RLC in XBH, Runners Caught Stealing, and OPS.  One day, I would like to transfer to a major Division 1 school and then progress into further opportunities in baseball.  Academically, I would like to be an Academic All American at RLC.”

The affable catcher’s singular focus caught the eye of Director of Baseball Operations Lawrence Vera:  “Giancarlo came to the Titans with one goal and the Titans had one goal for him; together, we made his dream of a D1 JUCO become reality.”  Coach Vera has also been impressed with the 18U Catcher’s natural leadership:  “Giancarlo has quickly become a clubhouse leader amongst all age groups and we are thrilled to watch him succeed at the next level.  He has made an immediate impact on the organization since joining us six months ago.”

Bernardo returned Coach Vera’s compliments and praised the Titans’ recruiting process.  He thanked many segments of the organization:  “It begins with my teammates, every single member of the 18U roster and all the guys that went down to the college trip. They helped me get there. I would do anything for each and every single one of those guys. From a coaching perspective-- Coach Bailey, Coach Graham, and Coach Al not only molded me into a terrific baseball player, but also helped mold me into a fantastic man. I still have many months with this organization and many more things to learn from them."

The JUCO Bandit a.k.a. 18U Titans Coach and College Placement Coordinator Denis Bailey sees his catcher’s choice to attend D1 Rend Lake as a “fantastic opportunity which will be a great fit for him as a student-athlete.  He’s truly been a ‘glue guy’ since he joined the Titans and he will continue that role with the Warriors in Illinois.  Giancarlo elevates the performance of all those on his team, including the coaching staff.”

Coach Bailey’s remarks about his catcher being a team-first leader were reflected by the Vaughan resident’s emphatic depiction of his best moments as a Titan:  “The highlight of my career so far is to go to practice and say that these guys are my teammates, these are my coaches, and this is my program. My highlight is being a Titan. My highlight leaving will be if I left an imprint on this organization worthy enough to embody what it means to be a ‘Titan’.” In his efforts to establish what it is to be a Titan, the veteran catcher offered advice to the youngest members of the organization:  “It's something you want, not something you say you want. You want it or you don't. That means in the cage for 2+ hours; that means extra receiving work; that means studying after class and getting help; that means going to practice and it means doing that again and again and again. One of my role models Derek Jeter said that ‘Someone can be better than you; there's no reason that they should work harder than you’ and that kind of embodies my message. Another icon that I admired was the late fabulous Kobe Bryant. Kobe said ‘Once you know what failure feels like, determination chases success.’ So don't be afraid to fail. We learn from our failures.” 

Giancarlo Bernardo’s inspirational message to younger Titans captures the lively appeal of this diligent student-athlete.  Heartfelt congratulations to this impact player who will lead the CPBL 18U Titans into battle in Spring 2022 and the D1 Rend Lake Warriors into battle in Fall 2022.  To paraphrase the title of author Robert Bolt’s most famous story, Giancarlo Bernardo is ‘A young man for all seasons!’