Hello Fall Ballers,
My name is Justin Winterhalter, and along with Scott Harvey and Nathan Boyer, I'll be coaching your player on team Whirlwind.
This is a quick introduction to prepare everyone for the upcoming season (practices start a week from tomorrow(!)), draw your attention to a few important items, and to beg shamelessly for help. I'll try and be brief, but there's quite a bit to cover:
-We are scheduled for practices at Cathcart Park in Shorewood on Thursday evenings from 5:30 to 7:00. I understand that it can be hard to get home and get everyone out for a 5:30 practice, so we may move that back to 6pm if everyone is in agreement, just to allow a little extra buffer and warm up time. There is no other team using the field on Thursday nights, so we have some flexibility.
-First practice is next week on 8/25. In order to make best use of our time, we're asking for players to come 10 min early to get settled and warm up so that we're ready to go for practice. In seasons past, I've also been able to make myself available regularly up to a half hour before practice to give batting practice for any player that wants to spend some extra individual time on their swing.
-First game is on 9/10 at 9am at Excelsior Commons. Gameplay begins at the time listed on the schedule, so please plan to have your player arrive at least 20 minutes prior to game time to warm up, get assignments, and have a quick pre-game meeting.
Items of note:
-As a preface, much of this is rule-related. PLEASE take a moment to familiarize yourself with the rules, as there are some major changes between 8YO and 9YO ball. Here is a direct link to the league rules:
-For many of us (our family included) this is the first year we will be playing with youth pitching. Based on the team size and requirements, we are expecting that every player will be pitching at some point. We have a 12 man roster, and will be fielding 10 players. There are very strict rules regarding the number of innings a player can pitch, individual pitch counts by age, and required days of rest to which we must adhere. The best way for us to be prepared for this is to have you as parents work with your player on pitching at home. We will be doing some team pitching excercises, but it's unlikely that we'll have the time or resources to provide individual instruction on pitching. If you're looking for help on how to practice pitching at home, we can provide some good resources.
-If you've already read the league rules mentioned above, you'll note that there are also many other requirements regarding position eligibility and roster minimums with which we must comply. As you can imagine, putting together a roster and positions for a game is very time-intensive and can sometimes require a great deal of planning (especially given the pitching requirements), so it's of the utmost importance that you convey any absence as soon as you're able. The team schedule page allows you to RSVP (look for the thumbs up buton in the far right column under "Actions"), so I'd like to use that as the primary way to indicate your intentions.
-We understand that there may be occasional conflicts, but please also plan on attending all scheduled practices. We will have practice plans which include teaching a specific skill set each week, so players who miss a practice could be missing out on important information that could also impact the rest of the team. Players that repeatedly miss practice should expect to have less playing time than those who attend regularly.
We coaches and managers are volunteers, and have our own lives outside of baseball as well. There are many facets to getting a team up and running with which we'll take all the help we can get. We already have a volunteer for Team Manager (Thank you Marcy Bean!), but there are so many other ways to help lighten the load (e.g. extra hands for drills at practice, crowd control in the dugout, keeping scorebook, tracking pitch count, and operating the score board just to name a few.) Many hands make light work, and there's definitely enough to go around. If you're willing, we'd really appreciate your help--plus it's a great way to stay involved and have fun with your kid. If you are interested in helping in any way, please just reply, and we can figure out the details!
Lastly, we are also asking for your help in reinforcing practice concepts and general understanding of baseball. Our players are at the perfect age to introduce a deeper understanding of the game, so this season will have an increased focus on the mental aspect of the game and developing their "baseball IQ." There may be times that we request that you talk about rules, concepts, or situational baseball with your player at home away from practice. In terms of fundamentals, most players have at least a grasp of the basics on which we plan to build. If there are any new players or players that might need some reminding, however, we may ask that you spend some time on basics at home so that we can make the best use of group practice time.
Thanks for taking the time to review the above. If you have any questions, or would like to discuss anything specific about your player, please feel free to reach out. Coaches' contact information is available on the contact page of the team site, and my direct contact info is below. Once we have an idea of volunteers to help with specific needs, I'll have Marcy put a list together so we can get organized.