Olympic College baseball coach Ryan Parker has seen a drop participation numbers of high-school age baseball players and doesn’t like where the future is heading.
So he decided to do something about it.
Parker and Nate Andrews, Olympic High athletic director and former Trojans baseball coach, have teamed to form the Kitsap Rebels Baseball team, the county’s newest 16U baseball team.
The Rebels are holding their first tryouts August 5th at 10 a.m. at Legion Field in Bremerton for ages 14-16.
Parker has witnessed firsthand the dwindling of area baseball players over the last decade and a half and is frustrated with that trend.
It starts with development, and grows from there, he said.
“I just want to do something to try and bring that talent pool back where it used to be,” he said. “If you can compile good talent and coach them up, eventually those kids are going to be pretty good.”
Parker said the Rebels will keep costs low, another factor hindering many families whose boys might want to play, charging $1,000 for a season. A $300 deposit is asked for upfront from players that make the team, and players can fundraise for the final amount.
“The whole goal is to keep this affordable,” Parker said. “I don’t care about the money. I could start with 12 teams and have them pay three-thousand bucks, but that’s not what it’s about for me. It’s about developing these kids and developing them to play in high school and junior colleges and colleges.”
Parker will utilize his knowledge and current coaching techniques to develop players, ages 14-16, with the hope of adding more teams at different ages in the near future. Some of what he will teach may be over their heads at first, but the more the players are around it and see it, the more they’re going to get it, Parker added.
Parker said he’s already garnered plenty of interest.
“In this last week as we’ve put the word out there I got a good response via social media and via text,” he said. “We may open it up to 14-18 for tryouts, and if we get enough kids, we may have multiple teams.”
The August tryouts will be followed by a short fall season in September and October and some winter activities, but Parker wants to encourage his players to participate in other sports. The club baseball season runs from Memorial Day to the end of July. They hope to schedule games locally and keep travel to a minimum.
Parker said part of the development process is to get actual game experience.
“Tournaments have time limits and run rules and you end up not getting enough innings,” he said. “To develop these kids you need to have innings.”
They’re looking at playing 40-45 games in during a season.
“We want to teach them how to win but I don’t think putting trophies in trophy cases is the only way to do it,” Parker said.
A trophy they won in a tournament is not something the players will talk about when they’re 30, it’s the memories they make, Parker said.
“Somewhere we lost sight, we as adults, lost sight what this is about,” he said, adding it’s about giving kids an opportunity play as much as possible with the goal of advancing them beyond high school.
“I want to do something sustainable.”
For more information or to contact Parker about tryouts, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.