Sixth graders to begin baseball practices
For the first time in 41 years, Fresno Christian welcomes an elementary baseball team. Although FC previously offered baseball to both junior high and high school, this year marks the beginning of 6th grade participation with the junior high team.
After coaching baseball and softball at Cedarwood Elementary, Joe Gustafson now leads the junior high varsity team. He recognizes the benefits of allowing 6th graders to play and excitedly anticipates what this will mean for the team in the future.
“I think it’s great to get the younger kids involved,” Gustafson said. “Ultimately I’d like to see a full elementary program started up whether we play Clovis Unified or Fresno Unified schools, but it’s good to have the sixth graders up with us. This will let us build a program. I look at schools around town like Clovis High and Buchanan who have youngsters out at sports camps all the time, and I think this is a step to establish a winning program here from 6th grade to high school.”
The primary goal of the coaches is not winning, but teaching the boys how to grow as Christian men. Instilling Christian values in them and guiding them in how to compete for God remains crucial to both coaches.
6th grade player Jacob Wyatt enjoys learning the plays and bonding with his teammates. As a baseball lover he understands the inner workings of the field and looks to improve over the season.
“I have been playing baseball since I could walk,” Wyatt said. “My dad has been the best supporter to me and taught me the game. I love baseball because it is a mental game. In the big leagues, a batter will fail 7 out of 10 times at the plate. In order to keep playing, they really have to have a positive attitude.
“In order to be good at baseball, I need to think fast about situations and plays,” Wyatt continued. “Even though I got injured and won’t be playing for half the season, I am looking forward to experiencing real baseball. This isn’t Little League anymore, so I am taking a big step. I am also looking forward to seeing kids older than me play. It’s like getting a sneak peek at what my next couple of years are going to be like.”
Coaching alongside Gustafson is Max Wyatt, the head coach of the junior high JV team. Max looks forward to the upcoming season and the advances they can make.
“The 6th graders will play key roles for the team this year,” Max said. “They will be expected to contribute just like any other member of the team; we will need them to pitch and play key roles in the field as well. We don’t expect perfection. We expect perfect effort, at least that they can give. Mistakes will happen. We just want them to be full speed mistakes. That is how you get better. The best part about coaching is watching the boys mature. Yes watching them get better at baseball is a byproduct of what we are working on, but the best part is watching them on their journey to become men that grow in maturity and in their faith. ”
The boys begin their pre-season training out on the North Field. The first games will be in February.
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