Preston Little League baseball is in full swing and the program continues to grow. Finding coaches proves to be one of the greater challenges. Preston could have added two more teams this season if they had been able to find more people willing to coach. Instead they had to roster more boys on the teams so all could play. “It’s not about a perfect knowledge of baseball,” said director Ande Phillips. “It’s about time. Trust me, nobody has time, you have to make time.”
The Preston league also attracts players and teams from other areas. Bear Lake and Malad both send teams to play in Preston and kids from surrounding counties, including Utah, participate.
“It’s nice to be in a position of having a healthy program,” said director Ande Phillips. “Players want to come here and we have enough from Preston that we don’t have to travel long distances to find teams to play.”
Sponsors this season include West Motor (Dodge and Ford), Kiwanis, Rocky Mountain Power, Big J’s, Willow Valley Medical Clinic, Sugar Creek Ranch, Buzz’s Auto and Glass, Wendy.s and D and D Landscape.
The League would like to recognize them for contributing to the success of the program as well as the individuals who have supported the program, either monetarily or with their time.
“Baseball is an expensive sport.” Phillips said. “Their contributions help us keep the cost down.” In addition to equipment like bats and helmets, the program pays for socks, pants, hats and a jersey. The teams receive jerseys with MLB team colors and logos to help them feel a connection with baseball on another level.
This season over 200 boys are participating. There are 17 Preston teams and 23 in all with the addition of Bear Lake and Marsh Valley teams. Some Preston players fill out positions on short-handed teams like Bear Lake.
Connie Young of the Kiwanis, whose husband George coaches a U10 team said, “You can’t take for granted the amount of technique and mechanics required to excel at this game. They practice and work hard. It is amazing to me because some of these kids come in with zero experience. The coaches are taking time and practicing with them and they are so good by the end of the season. It is amazing to see the progress.”
The Kiwanis have donated baseball bats, stands and 150 game balls to the program because they feel it is very important for the youth to be active and socializing in this kind of setting.
“They learn sportsmanship which is so important,” Young said. “They learn to respect coaches and umpires. They are outside being active instead of sitting around all day.”
The PHS baseball team continues to coordinate with Little League and their players volunteer as umpires.
“They have to know the rules and know the strike zone. It also gives them more empathy for umpires,” said Phillips. “One of the things I like best is that baseball is hard,” he said. “Hall of famers fail seven out of 10 times. The boys have to learn to deal with failure. They are learning something hard and having fun doing it.”
Preston High’s football coach, Eric Thorson, is also working with Phillips and adjusted flag football to offset baseball season, making it possible for kids to do both. His son plays on one of the teams. “If we work together we can have more kids in both instead of kids having to choose,” Phillips said.