2018-07-19 / Sports

Youth league focuses on fun rather then competition

by Grant McPherson
of the Enterprise staff


CHRIS SCHAUB (#3) slides into third base, but is tagged out by Everett Howell on Monday, June 25, in a youth league game at Suttons Bay high school. Photo: Ron Kramer CHRIS SCHAUB (#3) slides into third base, but is tagged out by Everett Howell on Monday, June 25, in a youth league game at Suttons Bay high school. Photo: Ron Kramer Baseball and softball might be considered slow sports to some, but don’t tell that to youth league players.

The kids of Leelanau County enjoy their sports. Everyone who played T-ball when younger will be the first to talk about fun times they had with their friends.

“T-ball is a great experience and great way for the kids to learn the game,” Lake Leelanau coach Peter Morio said. “They want to get out there and have a great time, and we just want them to have fun.”

There are five T-ball teams in Leelanau County. They’re two teams from Lake Leelanau, a team from Empire, a team from each Maple City and Cedar.

The first team from Lake Leelanau is coached by Melissa Hill Biddix. She wants the kids to have fun, but said there is a lot that goes into being a coach of a T-ball team.


TELA SHIMEK (#34) steps on first base to force out Bekka Grant (pink helmet) in a youth league game played at Suttons Bay high school. Photo: Ron Kramer TELA SHIMEK (#34) steps on first base to force out Bekka Grant (pink helmet) in a youth league game played at Suttons Bay high school. Photo: Ron Kramer “It takes a lot of patience to be the head coach of a T-ball team,” Hill Biddix said. “You also need a desire to go out there and help the kids get better.”

Hill Biddix has enjoyed being the head coach of a youth league team, and has children of her own that play on the team.

“I’ve enjoyed being the coach and watching the kids have fun,” she said. “All the kids on the team have the best attitudes and are trying their best.”

The parents of the athletes are helpful as well, as they have to drive their kids to and from games and be there to support them and the team.

“Something that my parents told me is that the connection between youth and adults is very important,” Empire coach Luke Moeggenberg said. “We have to be very supportive of the kids, and be flexible when helping them out.”

Parents also need to have a flexible schedule when it comes to being a parent of a young athlete. Coach Kaleb Foss from Maple City thanks the parents after each game, and knows what its like to be the coach and a parent.

“The parents go above and beyond in helping me get the kids excited about playing baseball,” Foss said. “It’s exciting to be a coach. It’s an opportunity to show them a sport that I have enjoyed throughout my life.”

Parents are instrumental in each child’s life. They have to back them up, teach them how to play and help them have a fun time.

Each coach said that one must have a specific quality when coaching a team of young kids. Morio said just how important it is to work with the kids and make sure they understand what they are doing.

“Patience is the biggest thing when coaching a T-ball team,” Morio said. “You have to be willing to have fun, and not be competitive during the games.”

Foss said the same when it comes to being patient and making it fun for the kids and adults.

“It takes patience,” Foss said. “With 10 four to six year olds, it takes a lot of patience to keep them on task. You have to find a way to make it fun for them or it’s not worth it.”

With all of the kids that are just there to have fun, the youth league wants the players to enjoy themselves. All the coaches agreed that seeing the players having a great time is all they need.

“I have seen the kids that smile and play, and I have met the kids who try really hard,” Moeggenberg said. “It’s just great to see the kids all having fun. That’s all that really matters to me.”

The team from Cedar, coached by Lance Mazurek, tries to always have fun. Each team has their own things to work on, and Mazurek said each coach needs a great attention span.

“Coaches of T-ball teams need a good attention span,” Mazurek said. “You also need a little bit of kid in your heart.”

Mazurek always looked up to the coaches when he was younger, and now he wants to do that for his daughter on the team.

“That’s what it’s all about,” Mazurek said. “When everyone shows support for the kids, they’re always smiling and having a great time. Seeing their smiles is the best part about being a T-ball coach.”

Mazurek said the coaches try to give the kids something to work on after games, and it means a lot to the kids.

“We try to give direction to the kids after each game,” Mazurek said. “As long as they are smiling and are safe, that’s all we can ask for as parents and coaches.”

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