When summer begins, local playgrounds and baseball/softball diamonds fill up with kids and teens looking to enhance their skills and have fun playing a game they love. This sport can be a big part of a youngster’s life. Who remembers playing pick-up games in a vacant lot? How about keeping a new ball glove under a mattress or bound with rubber bands to “break it in?” And since the game began, playing catch with Dad has become as American and iconic as apple pie. Genesee County is home to multiple youth leagues and this year, My City Magazine sponsored seven youth teams throughout the area. For kids of all ages, the love of the game is going strong in Greater Flint!
As their schedules wrapped up, a few of the coaches took time to answer questions about their teams and youth league play, in general.
Coach: Bill Dilorenzo
Why are youth leagues important? They give kids a chance to be a part of a team and learn the importance of working together, rather than as individuals. It helps them to form friendships and come out of their comfort zones. There was a kid who went from not talking at all in the first practice to being one of the most vocal by the end of the season.
What is special about your team? It’s a great group of kids with a mixture of boys and two girls. They have a great work ethic and willingness to learn.
What is the best part of being a youth baseball coach? To me, the best part is spending time with my kids and having fun teaching them. I like to see the growth of the kids as the year progresses and see the bonds they form. Our team grew by leaps and bounds from the first practice all the way to making and almost winning the championship game.
Coach: Bill Thrower
Why are youth Leagues important? These summer programs are very important to the development of the student-athlete. It’s the best time to get better. The leagues also get kids out of the house, into the open air and away from their phones.
What is special about your team? I believe this team is very special because of how hard they work and how well they play together. They are just great to work with.
What is the best part of being a youth softball coach? To me, nothing is more rewarding than seeing the smile and excitement on a player’s face when they are successful. I love having a part in helping kids become successful students and athletes. Youth softball and any youth league, in general, provides opportunities to impact a youth’s life in a positive and meaningful way.
Coach: Ryan Hagler
Why are youth leagues important? Flushing Summer Baseball league is a great opportunity to get kids outside, exercising and participating in a competitive sport that helps build confidence and teamwork skills that will last a lifetime.
What is special about your team? We have a great group of young adults on this team – their sportsmanship and hard work are really something! The past four years, I have had the pleasure of coaching half of the players on the current team and with a few key additions of some younger players, we went undefeated in the season.
What is the best part of being a baseball coach? I take pride in teaching new and younger players the fundamentals of the game and watching them develop. I have had the opportunity to coach all of my children in softball and baseball for the past 17 years, spending quality time with them and making great memories together. Baseball signifies the end of winter here in Michigan and with that, a new season. It’s just a great, family sport that brings everyone together.
Photography By Kayce McClure