Galileo's Bernstine: Star for all seasons 

It started, unsurprisingly, with a "smacker." That’s how April Reynolds described her son D’Eante Bernstine’s first organized athletic experience, when the then-4-year-old took a turn at-bat in older brother Dallas’ Little League game and ripped a hit. And over the years, that adjective has probably gotten a lot of use in a career that has rarely been interrupted.

Bernstine is now a senior at Galileo High School and is just weeks away from completing an athletic tenure defined equally by excellence and continual activity. He is one of the last of what appears to be a dying breed in The City — a three-sport athlete who stars in football, basketball and baseball.

"Playing all three is something I take a lot of pride in — it keeps me out of trouble and keeps my grades up," Bernstine said. "My whole family loves sports, so I try to follow them and do the best I can."

Bernstine is the youngest of four brothers, all of whom played sports beyond the high school level. Eldest brother Ronald, 26, was a football player at Solano Junior College while David, 24, played a few years of minor-league baseball in the Minnesota Twins’ organization and Dallas, 21, was a star running back at City College of San Francisco. His uncle Rod Bernstine was an NFL running back who played for the San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos.

"As soon as I was old enough to play, [my brothers] were always after me and I was like their little mascot," D’Eante Bernstine said. "It was tough because I didn’t like when they fouled me and stuff. But I know it was for a good cause and they taught me everything I know."

It’s tough to imagine Bernstine being bullied at this point. The 6-foot, 240-pound bruiser couldn’t play Pop Warner football growing up because he was too big and is one of the more physically imposing players in the Academic Athletic Association. Like many moms, Reynolds had reservations about watching her son play football. But not for the typical reasons.

"I know D’Eante’s a big guy," Reynolds said. "And when I see him out there hitting, I get scared for the other kid."

Of course, should Bernstine do anything particularly impressive, Reynolds is always there to document it. She has recorded nearly all of Bernstine’s prep games and the duo returns home from every event and carefully studies the tape to see how he can improve.

"I love that criticism," Bernstine said. "I’m always trying to get better. And my mom is like my best friend."

An archive review of this school year would be full of Bernstine highlights. He was named first-team All-AAA in football after seeing time at running back, quarterback, tight end and linebacker for shorthanded Galileo. In basketball, his favorite sport, Bernstine was second-team all-league after leading the Lions to the playoffs and putting up 20 points and 15 rebounds in his final game, a 63-49 loss to Lincoln.

"In that game, he did everything I could ask of an individual player," Galileo boys’ basketball coach Jeremy Lee said. "D’Eante possesses a rare combination of size, speed and strength."

Now, Bernstine is well on his way to earning first-team all-league honors for the third straight time in baseball. The catcher-corner infielder is currently batting .584 with 19 RBI in the cleanup spot for the Lions (16-3, 9-2 AAA), who lead their division, and will concentrate solely on baseball next year at Sacramento City College.

"He has a great natural instinct for the game and a ton of upper-body strength," Galileo assistant baseball coach Mike Mallamo said. "And he’s really matured both on and off the field."

Bernstine confessed it would be a tough transition to play just baseball next year. But for now, he is more concerned with prolonging his prep career as long as possible.

"We’re trying to get to Pac Bell [for the San Francisco Section championship]," Bernstine said. "This is the best group we’ve had since I’ve been here."

melliser@examiner.com

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