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A team approach to coaching

The Mitchell Baseball Association has decided the more coaches, the better for its teener baseball teams in 2018. Traditionally, the teams each had two coaches and those players stayed with each particular team throughout the year. This year, Mit...

Mitchell teener baseball coaches Bryce Geraets (left) and Jed Schmidt (right) watch their team play Yankton on June 26 at Drake Field. (Jeremy Karll / Republic)
Mitchell teener baseball coaches Bryce Geraets (left) and Jed Schmidt (right) watch their team play Yankton on June 26 at Drake Field. (Jeremy Karll / Republic)

The Mitchell Baseball Association has decided the more coaches, the better for its teener baseball teams in 2018.

Traditionally, the teams each had two coaches and those players stayed with each particular team throughout the year. This year, Mitchell still has six coaches for its three teener teams, but its coaches aren’t assigned to a specific team.

Instead, Bryce Geraets, Elijah Pommer, Spencer Neugebauer, Cody Reichelt, Sam Michels and Jed Schmidt coach all three teams together at one practice and split gameday coaching duties.

It’s the first year that Mitchell has used a group approach to coaching the youth teams, Mitchell Director of Baseball and Post 18 Coach Luke Norden said. He believes the method is unique to Mitchell among South Dakota cities.

“It just makes things a little more flexible with our coaches if they need to be gone,” Norden said. “I guess the flexibility of it was the best part about it just because coaches can be busy too.”

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Mitchell tries to have three coaches at home games and two coaches on the road. However, the biggest impact is felt during practice.

“Probably the biggest benefit is getting to see different types of coaching,” Geraets said. “Each one of us, we have a different coaching style and a different way of teaching things, so that’s beneficial because one way might not relate to that kid but another way will.”

Along with different coaching styles, each coach played a different position during high school, meaning they bring different defensive knowledge to the team. That made it easier to make coaching roles during practice. Geraets said the familiarity of each other’s baseball careers also helped as five of them played together in the past.

Schmidt, a pitcher at Augustana University, coaches pitchers and outfielders and Michels, who plays for the University of Sioux Falls, coaches the catchers. Reichelt and Neugebauer focus on outfielders and infielders, while Pommer and Geraets coach infielders. They all help in the batting cages.

A typical practice includes splitting the players into groups in the batting cage, infield and outfield to practice fundamentals.

“And then we’ll do a lot of team stuff with all three teams, working on baserunning and pitching, and all of our defensive plays,” Geraets said.

Norden acknowledged the benefit of having coaches who played all over the field, specifically noting the benefit of younger catchers learning from Michels. But he also thinks it’ll help off the field.

“We’ve got a lot of kids that are going to be freshman in our program, and we want to keep all of those kids,” Norden said. “So allowing those kids to be around together as much as possible and feel like they’re together (is important) because they are going to be playing together.”

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Norden has already seen camaraderie between the teams as players go to other teener games to support each other. He hopes having them practice together makes them feel like one team.

They’re also learning the expectations of the program from former players who recently exited it.

“The expectations are there, so they’re really working hard to get the 13-14 (year-old) guys up to par,” Norden said. “So when they get older in the program, they know the expectations in the program and what’s going on.”

So far, Norden hasn’t had any complaints from the coaches, players or parents. Therefore in the future, Norden would like to return this group of six coaches, but he knows that depends on a lot of different factors.

“Obviously things change where (these coaches) are at, so it’s hard to say now, but it’d be wonderful,” Norden said. “It depends because next year we could only have two teams at that level. It just kind of depends on the numbers in our program at age levels and where they fall, and how many coaches we do need.”

Related Topics: BASEBALL
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