The demise of high school baseball?

My son just completed his first season of high school baseball and boy was I surprised. I've heard a lot of horror stories about high school ball and understand that some are very true...but that wasn't our experience. 

Our coach made it clear that he was going to play the best players and not keep anyone who couldn't help the team or would be a distraction. My son got a chance to compete for a spot and ended up starting, as did two other freshmen.

The seniors accepted and mentored him and they formed a tremendous bond. My son was injured in his very first high school at bat and the next day a senior picked him up and took him to and from school because he was on crutches. Because he doesn't have a license this continued throughout the year.

The boys constantly went to dinner together, hung out together and truly had great chemistry. This led to the first outright region championship in ten years and a 28-2 record.

They road the momentum into the playoffs and won the first three series before losing a sudden death game last night. After the game, the kids spent over an hour on the field. Honestly, it was very hard to watch because the pain was evident. 

I said all that to say, I love travel baseball. I coached travel baseball - but I have a new appreciation and respect for high school baseball. It was a great experience! The brotherhood, the comradery, the school pride and community support was amazing to watch and experience. We drew nearly 2000 fans at the last two home games. 

I know it's not the same everywhere but that was a lifetime's worth of memories all wrapped up in one season. 

#BoyWasThatFun

 

 

Original Post

Great story.  

When my 2017 made varsity as a frosh we had some concerns at first but in the end it was a great experience. The senior leaders on that team were awesome, and they taught my kid how to handle that role when his turn came.  Unfortunately that year ended in a similar fashion - a heck of a run ending abruptly with lots of tears and hugs.  But at this point I think everybody pretty much remembers just the good stuff.

Shu, thanks for sharing. I think what you describe is the realization of the potential HS ball can have. It really is a different animal from travel ball . With the right coaching staff it can be great, even with a season that's not as successful as your son's.  

 

hshuler posted:

My son just completed his first season of high school baseball and boy was I surprised. I've heard a lot of horror stories about high school ball and understand that some are very true...but that wasn't our experience. 

Our coach made it clear that he was going to play the best players and not keep anyone who couldn't help the team or would be a distraction. My son got a chance to compete for a spot and ended up starting, as did two other freshmen.

The seniors accepted and mentored him and they formed a tremendous bond. My son was injured in his very first high school at bat and the next day a senior picked him up and took him to and from school because he was on crutches. Because he doesn't have a license this continued throughout the year.

The boys constantly went to dinner together, hung out together and truly had great chemistry. This led to the first outright region championship in ten years and a 28-2 record.

They road the momentum into the playoffs and won the first three series before losing a sudden death game last night. After the game, the kids spent over an hour on the field. Honestly, it was very hard to watch because the pain was evident. 

I said all that to say, I love travel baseball. I coached travel baseball - but I have a new appreciation and respect for high school baseball. It was a great experience! The brotherhood, the comradery, the school pride and community support was amazing to watch and experience. We drew nearly 2000 fans at the last two home games. 

I know it's not the same everywhere but that was a lifetime's worth of memories all wrapped up in one season. 

#BoyWasThatFun

 

 

Great post!  The pain when it ends is absolute evidence of the extent that HS baseball is very special.

Fortunately and unfortunately, I have been in that moment/hour as a coach quite often in recent years.  About five years ago was one that stands out the most.  I've told this story here before...  

After an emotional home playoff loss with a particularly close senior class, we, too, spent a goo hour or so just hanging out on the field grass.  Lots of swollen eyes... think it was allergy season.  Eventually, they all made their way up the hill and out of our little sanctuary.  

So, then it was time to go through my cleanup routine and afterwards, I sat in the dugout for a while for some of my own reflection.  A lone car made it's way down the hill and one of the seniors had returned.  This player was by far the least talented of the group, virtually no playing time, pretty much a bullpen catcher.  Not very good at that, either.  But absolute top notch attitude and character kid.  When the other coaches said we needed to cut bait before each of his seasons, there was no way I was going to support that.  Anyway, he walks into the dugout and sits down.  I asked why he came back.  "I'm just not ready, coach...  I love baseball."  I always knew he still enjoyed being around the guys but didn't realize to what extent the game and HS baseball meant to him.

He went on to a UC where he thoroughly enjoyed club ball and was an academic standout.

Congratulations to your son and his team... not just for the W's.

When my son refers back to these years he talks about his high school team and his travel teammates. The high school team was great memories that went back to LL with some of the kids. The travel kids are about tracking how far they go/went. 

My daughter played high school, travel and college. She cried when her high school team was eliminated at states senior year. I tried consoling her by reminding she had college ball next year. "You don't get it dad! Five of us just played together from the beginning (7/8's), middle school and high school. We've been going out to dinner on Friday nights for six years. It's over!"

2020Mom posted:

I love that your son had such a great experience in HS.  Our JV program was good and I cannot complain but it sure didn't have the "brotherhood" and mentoring you speak of...maybe that will change next year if he makes the Varsity squad. 

JV ball is about getting ahead of the guy next to you. Varsity is much closer knit.

That was a good story. I really appreciated the part about an upperclassman taking your son to his Dr appointment. That guy certainly deserves a pat on the back. Your son learned some great lessons that he will have the opportunity to pass along at some point in his career. Best of luck to your son throughout the process. 

hshuler posted:

My son just completed his first season of high school baseball and boy was I surprised. I've heard a lot of horror stories about high school ball and understand that some are very true...but that wasn't our experience. 

Our coach made it clear that he was going to play the best players and not keep anyone who couldn't help the team or would be a distraction. My son got a chance to compete for a spot and ended up starting, as did two other freshmen.

The seniors accepted and mentored him and they formed a tremendous bond. My son was injured in his very first high school at bat and the next day a senior picked him up and took him to and from school because he was on crutches. Because he doesn't have a license this continued throughout the year.

The boys constantly went to dinner together, hung out together and truly had great chemistry. This led to the first outright region championship in ten years and a 28-2 record.

They road the momentum into the playoffs and won the first three series before losing a sudden death game last night. After the game, the kids spent over an hour on the field. Honestly, it was very hard to watch because the pain was evident. 

I said all that to say, I love travel baseball. I coached travel baseball - but I have a new appreciation and respect for high school baseball. It was a great experience! The brotherhood, the comradery, the school pride and community support was amazing to watch and experience. We drew nearly 2000 fans at the last two home games. 

I know it's not the same everywhere but that was a lifetime's worth of memories all wrapped up in one season. 

#BoyWasThatFun

 

 

I think the experience is all in how we as parents teach our children to respect the game, the coaches, their teammates. 

Sons HS experience was similar,  the upper classman took good care of him. Same for as in college. 

My 2018 similarly made varsity as a freshman. He didn't have a license and so his teammates picked him up and got him to team dinners, included him in impromptu trips for ice cream and so forth. At the same time, a couple of the moms took me under their wing so I had someone to sit with and chat with during games, etc. I worried about my son fitting in on a team with older kids that he hadn't played with before, it was equally hard for the parents to find a spot to fit in.

My 2018 started playing with the high school team the summer between 8th and 9th grade. The upper classmen were wonderful to him and very supportive. The thought of this junior season coming to an end brings tears to my eyes. Our ace pitcher has been my son's mentor since that first summer. He's a great player, competitor and all around good kid. I think it will be a very emotional day when it finally comes. 

Thanks for sharing your positive story.

Great Post.  

What I love about high school baseball (just ended for us) is the sense of team in the truest sense.  There is absolutely nothing that can replace the pride of playing and representing your school.  The rivalries and history are things that can't be replaced by travel baseball.  To me and in my experience:  Travel is about the player... high school is about the team.  

To be sure not every high school team/coach/players are the same -- but I know my son learned more about being a teammate during 4 years of high school baseball than anywhere else and that is invaluable  -- because for the most part, learning to win as a team is how you win in business and life.

 

 

Nice post. Son had an absolute stud filled travel team. Great coaches. 

But whats important, with being on any team, is the ability to identify with having a common bond. This makes for better chemistry, a very important component in the game. That concept usually begins to form in HS, which is why the HS experience is so invaluable.

JMO

 

TPM posted:

Nice post. Son had an absolute stud filled travel team. Great coaches. 

But whats important, with being on any team, is the ability to identify with having a common bond. This makes for better chemistry, a very important component in the game. That concept usually begins to form in HS, which is why the HS experience is so invaluable.

JMO

 

My son's very fortunate to have great (talent and personalities) travel ball teammates as well. The best part for me is no parent drama. :-)

In travel ball there's almost always the next tournament. In high school the sad finality of being eliminated from the playoffs is the last time some kids get to wear any uniform. For others, it's the pain of not reaching the desired goal. 

High School Baseball is fun.  In Wisconsin the season is so short (about 6-7 weeks) that it is much more difficult to have meaningful bonds with teammates as in southern states, or meaningful developmental opportunities, but it is still a great experience representing your school & community.  

With High School games usually not starting until mid-April, and Travel Ball being just June/July, it is no wonder that Wisconsin players are a little behind the warm weather kids in terms of reps & experience, especially if they don't play Fall Ball

For 80% of the HS players HS ball is the highlight of their career. Parents always want "development" of their kids but a big part of hs players won't make it to college anyway so for them competing in hs games is a big deal.

And even the real prospects are going to remember their hs games more than some travel tournaments.

Travel is important but the travel season already is more than long enough, players can do both. People predict travel ball only for years now but every single guy who gets drafted still plays HS ball. I think they will continue to do both because hs is were your friends are and hs sports are a big social thing.

HS baseball ended recently for my 2017 catcher. He was the starter since mid-way through his Sophomore year and had an excellent time with friends, many of whom he had played with in LL since 2nd grade. I spent a LOT of time over the years cheering for the boys with parents who all look older (go figure).

Travel baseball was also a hoot and some teams have been better, some worse. But HS baseball was always entirely about the TEAM. Just not as much for travel.  

I live across the street from the high school and drive by the baseball field everyday. It will take a long time for me to not look at home plate and think about my son setting up to receive a pitch or trying to lace a double,

Dominik85 posted:

For 80% of the HS players HS ball is the highlight of their career. Parents always want "development" of their kids but a big part of hs players won't make it to college anyway so for them competing in hs games is a big deal.

And even the real prospects are going to remember their hs games more than some travel tournaments.

Travel is important but the travel season already is more than long enough, players can do both. People predict travel ball only for years now but every single guy who gets drafted still plays HS ball. I think they will continue to do both because hs is were your friends are and hs sports are a big social thing.

Dom love be your posts but this one I have to disagree with. A lot of kids now are playing full time travel. 

FWP posted:
Dominik85 posted:

For 80% of the HS players HS ball is the highlight of their career. Parents always want "development" of their kids but a big part of hs players won't make it to college anyway so for them competing in hs games is a big deal.

And even the real prospects are going to remember their hs games more than some travel tournaments.

Travel is important but the travel season already is more than long enough, players can do both. People predict travel ball only for years now but every single guy who gets drafted still plays HS ball. I think they will continue to do both because hs is were your friends are and hs sports are a big social thing.

Dom love be your posts but this one I have to disagree with. A lot of kids now are playing full time travel. 

Not in NoVA. But in general I'd say HS baseball will continue strong and hands-down stay on top of travel for Spring players. Then back to travel baseball.

There is one  thing High School Baseball has over Travel Ball, hands down.   No Sundays when you have to earn your way to a championship appearance the hard way.  You spend all day at the park, make it to the championship from the losers bracket, but your pitching is cooked cause of all the games. 

That just sucks.  Nothing like it in HS Ball.  We always regarded the HS season as something of a relief for that reason.  

Plus it represented a break from traveling all over the darned state and often out of state.  

And it was a lot cheaper.  

Batty67 posted:
FWP posted:
Dominik85 posted:

For 80% of the HS players HS ball is the highlight of their career. Parents always want "development" of their kids but a big part of hs players won't make it to college anyway so for them competing in hs games is a big deal.

And even the real prospects are going to remember their hs games more than some travel tournaments.

Travel is important but the travel season already is more than long enough, players can do both. People predict travel ball only for years now but every single guy who gets drafted still plays HS ball. I think they will continue to do both because hs is were your friends are and hs sports are a big social thing.

Dom love be your posts but this one I have to disagree with. A lot of kids now are playing full time travel. 

Not in NoVA. But in general I'd say HS baseball will continue strong and hands-down stay on top of travel for Spring players. Then back to travel baseball.

Not in California, either. In fact, it's nearly impossible -- all the travel programs shut down during HS season. There is a CIF rule that prohibits kids from playing for both the HS team and an independent team during the season (roughly late February to late May in our Section), so all of the travel programs shut down -- most shut down from the turn of the year until late May.

My 2021 just finished his first HS experience as a JV player.  He didn't get to play much but the Varsity and JV practiced together and the seniors on the team took the 8th graders under their wings and showed them what was expected of them as they progressed in the program.  My usually unemotional son told me the other day that he is really going to miss practices with the seniors that were at his position and I was shocked!

When my 2017 was a freshman, the seniors on that team lead by example and worked hard, stayed late and if a freshman wanted some extra bp, no trouble finding one of the seniors to stick around to give them extra reps.  Flash forward 4 years, son shows up late for dinner and he said he was catching some bullpens for a couple of freshman that didn't have time to throw that day in practice.  I appreciate the guys that took my kid under their wing and I appreciate the fact that my son didn't forget.  Not surprisingly, this program has flourished for quite some time now and when you see guys that graduated over 5 years ago showing up at games, it is easy to understand the impact the program had on them.  HS baseball can be and should be a special time, irrespective of talent level.  If your son is not in a program that does things right, let him be the first to change the culture because the young dudes are paying attention. 

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