Wasco Baseball effectively nurtures its young ballplayers but could do more to mentor them once they move closer to high school age, the organization's president, Chris Bell, said.
Bell thinks Wasco Baseball took a major step toward better serving 13- and 14-year-old players through a new partnership with the St. Charles North High School baseball program.
Under the new arrangement, St. Charles North's program – led by varsity coach Todd Genke – will hand-pick two coaches – one for the 13 age group and another for the 14 age group – to coach Wasco's top travel teams at those levels.
Bell said players' dads have coached the teams at all levels in the past, which Bell said works better when the players are younger.
"At the end of the day, outside coaching sometimes helps, when parents aren't involved, because that's exactly what they're going to see when they get to high school," Bell said. "Mom and dad aren't going to be there."
Bell said about 2,000 players a year funnel through Wasco's in-house and travel programs at all age levels, estimating that about two-thirds of them live in the boundaries of District 303, which includes St. Charles East and St. Charles North high schools.
Players from throughout the area – including many outside St. Charles – also are part of Wasco Baseball, and Bell acknowledged "it was certainly a discussion point" whether the new alliance could deter the families of some players who will not attend St. Charles North.
But Bell predicts Wasco Baseball will remain a popular destination for youth players, and once they funnel into the organization, he thinks many will want to stick with their friends as they move toward their teenage years, regardless of their high school destinations.
"If a kid kind of grew up in a program, has been with same kids, playing travel ball with the same kids for four years, he'll still have the same opportunity, assuming he can play at that same level," Bell said.
Bell said discussions with North baseball have been in the works since January. Genke could not be reached for comment.
The partnership with North should do away with year-to-year inconsistency in the quality of instruction, Bell said. The goal is "not just hoping this year I have a great dad [of a 13-year-old], he played college ball, he knows what he's talking about, and next year I might not have anybody," he said.
Bell said feedback about the partnership – announced publicly last week – has been encouraging.
"People are excited about it," Bell said. "The general feedback I've gotten is people are excited about it. They're glad as a program we've kind of moved to outside coaching."
Tryouts for Wasco baseball will take place Saturday and Aug. 2-3. For specific times and locations, visit WascoBaseball.com.