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Column: Baseball overload in a good way

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I have covered so many baseball games the past fortnight that when I try to sleep I hear nothing but chatter in my head.

"Trade places with him!"

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"Twist it!"

"Not your pitch!"

"Base hit, ball four!"

It's like there are multiple teams of teenagers in my head and they are all screaming.

But I love baseball. Getting paid to watch hardball games is hardly work, especially, when one gets to cover winners.

Much of the credit for all those wins can be laid directly on the coaching staffs. This weekend I got a heavy dose of three teams.

Hanging around dugouts, both for the home teams and the visitors, gives one perspective on how kids are coached and encouraged.

There is a tangent between the Perham team and the two NY Mills clubs I followed all weekend. All three have great coaches.

I saw Greg Esala bring in pinch hitters off the bench at crucial points of games and the support and encouragement he gave that particular batter, more often than not, would end in positive results. Nobody rides the pines for his club. Everyone plays and as a team they win. Third place in state says enough.

Tim Kupfer's squad pulls out miracle comebacks like it's second nature. They don't know how to lose. Down seven runs in the last inning: no big deal, we'll score nine.

That never say die attitude comes from the top down and Kupfer has a state championship title to his credit. It's not difficult to see why. He wills his kids to win. They have a chance to add another title this weekend in Fergus Falls. I canceled plans Friday through Sunday. I expect them to win, or at least I'm rooting for them to go deep in the bracket.

Like I was for Tyler Soderstrom's Perham squad. When they played NY Mills in the state tournament I had only one choice. I'm rooting for everyone.

This is a team that won 20 games in a row. That doesn't happen by luck.

Soderstrom was a lone gun against Dassel-Cokato, a team that sported three coaches, who were more like drill sergeants.

I was not cheering for those fellas.

These coaches let loose with the cursing when a player dropped a pop up in foul ground-the kid was soon benched. He wasn't built up. I saw the guy mope around the dugout the remainder of the game.

I never saw that type of behavior from the Perham dugout. In fact, I saw the opposite. In good times and even in a game out of reach, Soderstrom was a positive influence on his players.

There's a fine line between winning, losing and being a quality mentor for young people.

This line can be crossed and sometimes stampeded by adults all over the ballpark.

One nice thing about these two tournaments, there wasn't a lot of that either. For the most part, it was a supportive environment and sportsmanship was on display in full force, most of the time.

The early teenage years are interesting, to say the least. These kids need as much positive reinforcement from we adults as we are able to give.

Besides, in a few years, they can always skip the whole sportsmanship thing and join the Hi-10 League. See my Shockers Stun Pirates story.

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Robert Williams
Robert has been the Sports Editor for the Focus since 2010 covering multiple state and national championship teams and is a mainstay at state tournaments each season covering the successful, athletic programs of Perham and New York Mills High Schools.
(218) 346-5900 x223
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