Recap of “LAST LICKS 2015”

October 12, 2015

And off to school we go…..

What is done is done! Thanks to all for a great last tourney and helping us work through the rain and other irritations. I am very proud of all our players, their play, and MOST importantly their “winning” attitudes and never quit approach. Each team was very competitive and went “down swinging”! It is hoped that they will maintain the life lessons that they are learning and apply these important tenets to their everyday lives. The key lessons of preparation, ability to change/adjust, and perseverance are essential in this day and age. They will not only be able to solve problems but these skill sets will lead to good decisions and a happy and fruitful life. I realize that not every player or family was totally satisfied with our decisions and strategies but one must learn that in baseball, as in life, one must find their role and then a method to show the coach/boss that they merit more consideration…and “Life is not fair, and either is baseball” KWTP!

All four teams(and the wonderful Woodies and Rainiers) played hard and did not let the inclement weather or undertones get in their way. The 9U team continued to improve and again played at the highest level. The 11U team beat one of the best 11U teams and won the championship with every player contributing. Both the 10U and 12U teams were beat in the semi-finals but were an out away from victory. LTD!!

I wish to thank ALL the players, coaches, and families for another great year. Not only did we have fun, grow in our baseball acumen, but even won a few games and titles. It is exciting and exhilarating to see youngsters playing the game with zeal and having families that understand the true value of the game. THANKS to all for the very cool TY booklet and for supporting both FirstSwing and the Klouter teams. I realize the “fun” in raising kids and very much appreciate all the things you do to help us create a safe, educational and fun learning environment. Some may still think it is about winning games and playing time, but it really is about getting together with others who understand that the game is really life and we all must all have the joy of victory and the agony of defeat. The quicker the youngsters learn to fail and that life is not fair, the quicker they will adjust and be able to develop the skill sets to be successful in their future goals and endeavors. Thanks for ALL you do!!! A very special THANKS to Carla and the parents who got there early each tourney and those who were instrumental in our successful Klouter Kitchen and FirstSwing booth. Thanks to all who spent liberally and those who provided the food and time in each of these areas!! KWTP!

I am proud of the growth and development of each team and the players this season, but MOST proud of the demeanor of the players in the off-the-field activities. I commend each and every player who volunteered to play for other teams, the ones who put in tireless hours as interns at camp(s), the ones who did community service for their church, school, families, etc, and the ones who did the little things to make life easier for their parents, families and friends. Most importantly, I thank and commend, with ALL my heart, the parents/siblings/friends who gave us their time and efforts with the Kitchen, Booth, clean-up, donations, monies, and became the soul of our mission. Forget the wins and losses..focus on your contributions to the growth of the youngsters and the integrity of helping others! LTD!

It is not about me, it is about US! WNM!

Each year the culminating tourney is always bittersweet in many ways. It marks the end of another season of “fun in the sun” and winning and losing games. Most importantly, we made some very basic mistakes that cost us runs/outs and even games. These are the things that we need to focus on for the next season…learning from mistakes and practicing our deficiencies. Each of these little things can be eliminated with work and focus. None are difficult but are simply the fundamentals of the game: failing to tag up at 3rd on a fly ball, not charging the ball, missing signs, failing to cover a base(B-B-B), taking 3rd strikes, failing to bunt, covering home on a PB or WP, watching the ball while running the bases..etal. All these cost us valuable time and runs or outs! Baseball is a game of failure but it requires focus and attention to doing your part. It is a team game based on individual skill sets…work on learning the game and anticipating the next play..KTS and PUP!! Being a baseball player is no different than any other obligation that has responsibilities and consequences. Both take hard work, passion and the will to do YOUR best every minute!! KWTP!

One of the greatest things about the game of baseball is that you really do experience the lessons of life. Some “lessons” really hurt and hopefully the pain and anguish will provide a warning and valuable asset for future life situations. All 4 teams faced some very difficult and trying tests on Sunday. Some succeeded and some failed. The biggest questions for all are “Did I face it and did I do my best to compete and finish?” It is a question only each of the players can answer. It is only a game but, if you play it as you should, it is more than that…it is an opportunity to risk and do your best in a positive learning environment. For those of us that experienced the unacceptable losses, we need to feel the PAIN and ANGUISH/AGONY of should burn in your gut and be in the back of your mind…if it does not and is not, then you need to rethink why you are on a team and why you play the game. Use this as a “tool” for future successes and as an asset to develop your character and life!! PUP!! The most important take-away: if you are a true player and do want to “get good”, you will begin now with new goals, a realistic routine for the off-season, and a renewal of commitment to be better. Each and EVERY player should begin working on the mental game and the following: BUNTING, SHORT, QUICK swings, and throwing with the proper mechanics. It is that simple. Without practice and work ethic, you will not be successful in any endeavor…especially a team game that is composed of individual skill sets!!!

Lastly, not everyone gets to play as much as he/she feels that they should. On a team, the focus should be on the group not the individual. Our coaching staff realizes the importance of getting everybody in to as many games as possible. This is our goal and sometimes we fail to do so. We created a chain of command and if a player feels slighted it provides a viable method to address the problem. We have asked both in the parent meetings and in our PLAYING TIME manifesto for the parents to please allow the player to deal with the issues and refrain from addressing the coach. It is a difficult task and vents frustration but it does not teach the player how to deal with the adversity. In all, if a player wants to earn more playing time, it gets down to going to more workouts/camps, working harder on the basics, and showing that he/she really wants to help the team. Just showing up will not provide the impetus for coaches to put players in the games. PUP!

Again, THANK YOU to all parents and family members who have been in the “kitchen” and booth this summer. We reaffirmed that our teams make the BEST chili ever and, the desserts speak for themselves. The Klouter booth raised over $12,000.00(a record) and will help many needy kids improve their quality of life. Your fantastic support and sense of family have proved once again that Klouters have the best parents and our philosophy of choosing parents REALLY works!! THANKS again!! A very HUGE thanks to Carla(and Brad) and for their leadership and coordinating the logistics that allow us the luxury of eating better and creating monies for those needy kids in the world. FirstSwing reaps the rewards of all your efforts/financial support, and very much appreciates the true love and care that you all take to create a rewarding and educational experience for all!! FAW!! WNM!!!

    HEROES: “Playing for the Enemy”: Sam S(10U) and Noah P(9U). Each played for other teams and helped those teams win! Spankie and Tom B: These coaches created teams to give more kids an opportunity to play in the tourney. Great job! Nick P: For his hard work in providing umpires. This is a thankless task and he did it ALL summer. Moreover, as the 11Us had trying moments fielding full teams, he found players who are now integral parts of the 11U team!!
  2. 9-3 Club: Aiden A(11U), Karsen S(9U) Noah P(9U). 9-4 Club: Jake B(12U)
  3. Defense: Jake F, Basil H, FinnT, Nick E, Colton P, Tommy B, Cade H, Chandler T, Wes G, Logan P, Brady J, Jojo E. TOS: Colton P, Logan P, Jojo E, Easton T.
  4. Home Runs: Luke H, Jojo E, Dalton D, Easton T(Grand Slam), Chandler T, Wes G.
  5. Bunters: Leyton D, Mathias B, Cade H, Dylan A, Cooper Y, Nick E.. Failure to bunt: Too numerous to mention!!
  6. Hitting: Evan M, karsen S, Finn T, Jake F, Mathias B, Tommy B, Taylor F, Chandler T, Easton T. Clutch Hitter of the Tourney: Seth B
  7. Pitching: Basil H, Blake S, FinnT, 10U:Staff, Easton T, Noah S, Isaac R, Wes G
  8. Good-Bye to our 12Us and THANKS for the years and the memories: Jake B, Quin I, Dalton D, Jojo E, Brady J, Evan G, Davis F, Dylan O, and Drake B. And of course, Coach Marty J!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Things to Work on and Ponder: FAW!!

  1. Preparation: It was obvious that some players did not prepare to play this past weekend..too many sore arms! Many did not throw or work on their game. Again, we had too many sore arms and that indicates lack of preparation. It is our philosophy to empower you, not enable you..your pride should motivate you to have a routine that keeps you “game ready”. It is your obligation to your team!! Pitchers should always throw(see our have been sent or given all of them on pitching!)
  2. Moving to the ball: As you can see in every recap, we mention the lack of movement on defense. We win with defense(W3D)…but it is based on going to the ball on every play. As the pitcher winds up we are “creeping” to the ball and then sprinting to it. If it is not to us, we go into our defensive mode..ball, base, back up! Too many wait till after the ball is hit or gets by a team mate, then goes to it..TOO LATE!! You catch the ball with your FEET!
  3. Outfield: First step BACK on a fly ball! Drop step and then go to the ball!!!
    Also, when a ball is hit in the gap or seemingly by you, take the ANGLE to where it is headed not to where is it was!! HIT the cut off man and get the ball in..DO not hold on to it..when in doubt throw it to the pitcher!!
  4. Our 2-strike hitting is improving..keep working on short strokes and contact hitting. Learn to turn away from a pitch and NOT jump out of the box..take one for the team. SHORT, QUICK SWING!!
  5. Pitching Mechanics: Everyone needs to go back and review their mechanics and work from the stretch. The key to becoming a good pitcher is COMMAND..getting the ball to go where you want it to go!! Review the basic throwing drills and apply them to when you pitch!
  6. Most importantly: Learn to adjust during the game!! We are not making proper adjustments in order to increase our chances of successfully executing. Key example is the number of third strikes we watch go by(especially on breaking or off-speed pitches): most times it is because we are hoping for a walk or bending over to watch it sail by the plate. Move up on the plate and adjust to the ump’s strike zone and swing! Pitchers: As a rule(unless instructed to do so), NEVER throw two pitches the same speed, same location, or same type to the same hitter.. “down the middle” is only a default pitch!! Lastly, body language helps the opponent!! Stand tall and compete!

Again, great job by all and THANKS for another great Klouter season..a number of championships and a number of seconds…and we ate great!!! We will have our annual meeting to determine what we will be doing for next year in late October or early November. Our 14th Annual Hitting and Pitching Clinic will be in November (Kellogg Middle School) and will focus on the proper mechanics of hitting and pitching with the focus on off-season work.

See you soon, Coach Phil GAGPTH! KWTP, W3D, PUP, etal: OYO is the key!!

2016: YOLO!!!