To jell a team takes practice and time. To win state titles, it takes practice and time.
To form a team capable of winning state titles, new Maine West High School freshmen coach Matt Smith decided to start a Junior Warriors baseball program.
The program is aimed at middle school students who will attend Maine West. They will practice from August to October on Sundays and start again in February one to three times a week, with games starting in April 2013. Smith said the schedule will include 40-50 games and four summer tournaments.
The full schedule is similar to the high school level's schedule, so the program will help participants learn about "the Warrior way of baseball."
Registration for the season is open to July 29, though Smith said the date is not set in stone.
Smith, who has coached at the college and high school levels, always dreamed of starting a feeder program for high school baseball. Maine West already has Junior Warriors basketball and football programs.
"The goal of any of these Junior Warrior programs is to get the kids who are going to Maine West playing within the Maine West system and feeling comfortable with that system," Junior Warriors basketball coach Rob Hudson said.
Hudson said his program, now in its 31st year, has between 35 and 45 participants annually. This past school year, seven seniors on the varsity team were past Junior Warriors.
The participants learn terminology and philosophy consistent with Maine West High School athletics, allowing time to learn the basics of the sport so by the time they reach high school, there can be more of a focus on the mental aspect of the game.
"We feel that if we have some type of program, they'll know our expectations," Smith said.
Smith believes in the talent in the Des Plaines area, and with a game and practice schedule similar to the high school, he hopes the program will help Maine West win a state title in the future.
As the baseball season winds down for the summer, Smith hopes more people will register. Tryouts are scheduled for Aug. 5 and 12, but they may be extended to accommodate interested families who on are vacation. For more information, contact Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit [URL]www.hometeamsonline.com/;http://www.hometeamsonline.com/teams/?u=JRWARRIORBASEBALL&s=baseball&t=c[URL] and type JrWarriors in the "find a team" field. [/URL]