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Eighth Grader Playing HS Varisty -- Advice Needed

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  • Eighth Grader Playing HS Varisty -- Advice Needed

    Earlier this year, I was faced with a dilemma concerning my son, an 8th grader still in middle school. The high school baseball coach asked him to bypass the middle school team and try out for the high school varsity baseball team. Before jumping to any conclusions concerning his talent, I must dislcose that the high school program is mediocre at best. They don't generally have enough players to field a JV team let alone a freshman team. The school is primarliy known for its academic achievements and excels at what I call “country club” or “preppy” sports (e.g., tennis, swimming, lacrosse, etc.) rather than “traditional” team sports (e.g., basketball, football and baseball).

    With that said, my son played competitively in various travel baseball leagues throughout South Florida (lefty pitcher and first baseman). He’s perfomed well against many of the teams that have gone on to win prestigious travel tournaments held across the United States.

    My son pleaded to let him tryout. I agreed despite having some reservations about his age. The high school coach – a former minor league catcher – called me within just a few days to let me know he made the team. He indicated my son would receive significant playing time but there was one condition -- he had to quit his travel team.

    My son did not want to leave his travel team and friends since they are in the midst of a three-peat league championship. He asked me to let him play on both teams since most travel games are played on weekends and high school games on weekdays. He also agreed to pitch solely for the high school team to avoid overuse of his arm. I refused and told him it was too dangerous on many levels. He reluctantly agred to give the high school his full and undivided attention.

    The travel team coach – who happens to be an assistant coach on another local high school team (a baseball factory that produces numerous collegiate and professional players annually) - was upset and warned me that he was still too young to pitch at the high school level. He said there was a significant risk of hurting his arm due to overuse. I shared these concerns with the high school coach and he told me not to worry that he would not utilize my son extensively as a pitcher.

    The season started slowly with my son initially playing every other game. He was used as a relief pitcher and received few at bats. After 7 games, however, he made his first start in right field. The next two games he started at first base. During this time, the head coach continued to use him as a relief pitcher on an every other game basis i.e., he pitched once per week. Last week, however, he made his first start as a pitcher and the team won its first game of the year. Last night, he made his second consecutive start as a pitcher against an opponent with a couple of MLB draft prospects. He pitched extremely well giving up just 1 earned run in 5 innings nearly leading his team to a victory.

    So far so good, right? Okay, here’s my concern.

    I promised the Travel Ball coach we would return upon the end of the high school season. The high school coach, however, wants my son to participate in a summer conditioning program. Frankly, my son wants to play with this travel team since - as he puts it - the travel team would kick the high school team’s #$%& if they played each other. He really likes his new high school teammates ("they are cool, dad and drive cars") but misses playing with higher quality players and the thrill of winning games and competing in tournaments.

    I’m concerned about not participating in the summer conditioning program as it may alienate the head coach who is trying really hard to build a baseball program. It may also send the wrong message to the returning high school players. They might view my son as some sort of prima donna. They now view him as “one of the guys” even though he is just a kid. I also don’t want him to do both as I generally require him to stay completely away from baseball for at least 30 days every summer. Doing both is too taxing on the arm and he needs a mental break from the game.

    What should I do?

  • #2
    Whatever your son wants to do.
    WAR EAGLE!

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Gables View Post
      Before jumping to any conclusions concerning his talent, I must dislcose that the high school program is mediocre at best. They don't generally have enough players to field a JV team let alone a freshman team. The school is primarliy known for its academic achievements and excels at what I call “country club” or “preppy” sports (e.g., tennis, swimming, lacrosse, etc.) rather than “traditional” team sports (e.g., basketball, football and baseball).

      The travel team coach – who happens to be an assistant coach on another local high school team (a baseball factory that produces numerous collegiate and professional players annually)

      What should I do?
      Transfer to the "other" school over the summer, if baseball is a priority and you think he'd have better scholarship potential by playing for that team, as it sounds like he would....

      Or stay with the "primarily academic" program over the summer, if you feel he'd have better scholarship potential going the academic route, and would like to be part of "rebuilding" the program there......if you're sure that ALL of the other players on the team are going to do the same.

      It's a tough choice, there's good and bad with both options......but unfortunately, sometimes we just "can't have our cake, and eat it too".


      Best of luck,
      mud -
      In memory of "Catchingcoach" - Dave Weaver: February 28, 1955 - June 17, 2011

      Comment


      • #4
        Gables,
        Most serious HS players I know play in the summer. Here they play Legion.
        "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
        - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
        Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

        Comment


        • #5
          Why can't your son do the summer conditioning program with the school and play travel. It's what my son did. Eventually if your son is good enough to be a college prospect a travel team will be more important to his recruiting than his high school team. If he will move up to a 17/18U team in the same organization he's in now that has to be a consideration. Your son needs to talk with his high school coach.

          Are you worried an 18 year old might hit something back at your son he can't handle? My son was a candidate to make varsity as a freshman. When asked if I thought he was good enough to make the the team I answered ... Given the talent he is good enough to make the team. But he may not be good enough to compete against the opposition .... It was large school baseball.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Jake Patterson View Post
            Gables,
            Most serious HS players I know play in the summer. Here they play Legion.
            Jake ... Outside New England the best kids aren't playing Legion anymore. Where my son played some of the historically strong programs rostered travel kids and played them enough to be eligible for the post season. Then they kicked their regular starters to the curb. My son played Legion the summer before heading for college ball for an easy summer. He was more focused on working out and conditioning than playing. He said it was batting practice compared to travel ball. Several other former travel/future college players played on his team last summer. They trampled the league, zone and region. It wasn't until states they saw serious competition.

            Comment


            • #7
              Nothing he does at his age will make any difference whatsoever re college recruiting. Relax.

              When he can throw 90+, go to a showcase.

              Don't worry so much about the travel team coach. They want your money.
              Last edited by songtitle; 03-21-2012, 10:10 PM.
              efastball.com - hitting and pitching fact checker

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by songtitle View Post
                Nothing he does at his age will make any difference whatsoever re college recruiting. Relax.

                When he can throw 90+, go to a showcase.

                Don't worry so much about the travel team coach. They want your money.
                It depends if they are paid. My 13U travel coaches are not paid but do it because they have sons that play and there is not much at our level in the area.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Gables View Post
                  What should I do?
                  I agree with the first reply in this thread.

                  What you should do is listen to your son and let him do what he wants to do.

                  He is the one playing the game.

                  While it's nice to be noticed by another coach who, as you put it, is trying to build a program, your son is going to continue to get noticed as he progresses.

                  The kid wants to have fun and play iwth his friends and team old team mates. I say let him.

                  And from my perspective, I would have told the HS coach to pound salt if when he required quitting the travel team as a condition. That's BS.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    @tg
                    your kids seem to be really good players. did they get drafted?
                    I now have my own non commercial blog about training for batspeed and power using my training experience in baseball and track and field.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by mudvnine View Post
                      Transfer to the "other" school over the summer, if baseball is a priority and you think he'd have better scholarship potential by playing for that team, as it sounds like he would....".

                      -
                      Mud – An interesting side note to the “other school (baseball factory” is that I’m an alumnus of that high school and I decided not to send him there. It’s a good school academically, but his current school is the “best of the best.” That other school wants him strictly as a pitcher while he can do both at his current school.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Jake Patterson View Post
                        Gables,
                        Most serious HS players I know play in the summer. Here they play Legion.
                        I agree with others in taht Legion ball is fading. All kids want to do is workout and get ready for the showcases.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by tradosaurus View Post
                          It depends if they are paid. My 13U travel coaches are not paid but do it because they have sons that play and there is not much at our level in the area.
                          Yeah, I missed out on the "TB Prosperity Wagon" also.

                          Only charged what was needed to recoup tournament, field, or uniform costs. Actually lost money over the years, because not a single kid missed a game, practice, or tourney, due to an inability to pay.

                          Not complaining about that in the slightest, as it was money well spent. Some of those young men still send us Christmas cards, email, and text message what they're doing with their lives years later......even if it no longer includes baseball.

                          Youth baseball has truly made me rich.....even if it's not in the monetary sense of the word. :cap:
                          In memory of "Catchingcoach" - Dave Weaver: February 28, 1955 - June 17, 2011

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by tg643 View Post
                            Why can't your son do the summer conditioning program with the school and play travel.
                            Tg – I honestly believe doing both is too much. Being in South Florida, we are blessed with great baseball weather and can play year round. That’s a double-edged sword and can often lead to arm injuries. Many local pitchers suffer injuries to shoulders and elbows caused primarily from overzealous coaches who keep pitchers in too long or do not provide the necessary rest between starts.

                            I’m a firm believer that baseball players (especially pitchers) should take at least 30 (preferably 60) days off to rest their arms, clear their heads and, in the case of adolescents, let them enjoy their youth i.e., give them a chance to be kids. While other parts of the country can take Nov – Feb off or simply go indoors to work on hitting, we are playing a full schedule. That’s very taxing on young arms.

                            Given that he must now play “Fall Ball” (i.e., unsanctioned high school games + daily practices between Sept – Nov) prior to the start of the High School season in January, the summer is the only time he has to decompress.

                            On one hand, he can appease his new high school coach and me by participating in summer conditioning drills which do not involve throwing but simply working out to get stronger, faster and quicker. On the other hand, the summer is when most quality, competitive Travel Ball tournaments take place. It’s when most Northern or colder climate teams from across the country begin to really compete against the Sun Belt states. He enjoys the competition and loves to measure himself against some of the best players from around the country.

                            No se…not sure…what’s best…

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by songtitle View Post
                              Nothing he does at his age will make any difference whatsoever re college recruiting. Relax.

                              When he can throw 90+, go to a showcase.

                              Don't worry so much about the travel team coach. They want your money.
                              Songtitle - Not worried about college. Rather, I'm concerned about overuse and upsetting his high school coach.

                              Comment

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